Painter Carol Bomer (www.carolbomer.com), born in Alberta, Canada, and now living in Asheville, NC, started out as a teacher before she began painting professionally. She has shown her work nationally and internationally and recently taught art at Luxan Academy of Fine Art in Shenyang, China. Her work has been called "a silent form of poetry" (Asheville Citizen Times). Her studio is called SOLI DEO GLORIA STUDIO.
LeAnne: How did you get your start as a painter?
Carol: This question is really the greater part of my testimony. I always loved art. My grandmother, my mother, and two aunts painted. However, my ancestors were pioneers to Alberta, Canada, in1911, so painting was not an option. My mother was a teacher in a small community in northern Alberta where my dad was a farmer. The community school did not have an art program, so the first official course I took was by correspondence in 10th grade.
I wanted to attend the university in Edmonton, the capital city of Alberta, but my parents wanted me to have a Christian education (this was the radical 60s). So I enrolled at Dordt College in Iowa, where there was no art program but an excellent liberal arts Christian education. I was taught to think critically about culture, and in my second year my faith in Christ became my own and not the faith my parents. This time of my life was crucial to my future in the arts. I had grown up with the Christian faith but did not grasp that God’s Word could be applied to all of life and God’s sovereignty reigns over all.
But this college specialized in education and I did not want to be a teacher. I wanted to be an artist! So the summer after my second year, I enrolled in the art program at University of Alberta. However, two weeks before class, God intervened. I reread a paper I had written called The Purpose of Christian Education. I was praying and arguing with God that art was more than thinking biblically about life and art! But I was convicted. I prayed that if God would allow me to be an artist someday, I would return to Dordt College. In less than two weeks, I enrolled in Secondary Education with a Major in English and a Minor in History. In my senior year, I was able to take several art courses at a neighboring college. And most important, I met my life’s partner, Norm Bomer, a Philosophy/English Major and founding editor of God’s World News.
We both taught school for six years until my husband had to quit for health reasons. Then we moved to Kansas without a job. He tried to recuperate while I began to paint. With a new baby on the way, I began my career as a professional artist. Yet we never missed a house payment! My art career hit the road running, so to speak. I immediately had to paint to make a living. I painted landscapes and commissions in watercolor. I did bank shows and sidewalk shows and took classes at the local community college. I was also involved with city art associations.
By the time we moved to North Carolina where my husband began his job as editor of GWNews in 1981, my career in art was somewhat established, so beginning in Asheville was not that difficult. I began entering shows and winning awards in the North Carolina Watercolor Society.
However, until ’84, my artwork was about landscape and still life. Then the Lord intervened again. He brought difficulties and spiritual growth. I devoured the Scriptures. And to quote St. Augustine, “Lord, Thou didst strike my heart with Thy Word, and I loved Thee!” I prayed that God would use my artwork for His glory. I wanted my work to be about Christ and to be biblically based.
LM: You've done many shows and exhibitions, and yet your work is very much biblically-based. How has it been received? Do people ask questions about your work?
CB: It has been well received by secular audiences. Recently, I was awarded First Place at a show juried by Ray Pierotti from Atlanta at the Reese Museum in Johnson City, TN. And one of my Global City Babel pieces was also juried into a show called Appalachian Corridors, an 11-state show, by Eleanor Heartney, a New York art critic. Often it is the message or the hidden meaning of a piece that brings awards, but excellence of craft and awareness of our Postmodern culture are very important issues to consider. We live in a time of relativism, so to introduce the absolute authority of the Word of God is anathema. But who is in control?
The Christian artist who tells the truth about creation and its brokenness but points to redemption through Christ will always be relevant. Christ holds all things together (Col. 1: 15ff) and all men are enlightened by the Light even thought they do not know Him (John 1:9-10). “There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man. He was in the world and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him.”
Lately I have been incorporating words and the Word of God into my mixed media work. For years, I have incorporated Scripture as titles, but now I am allowing glimpses of Scripture to appear in my work. God’s Word is powerful. I can allow God’s Spirit to capture hearts and imaginations. (It is all about Him anyway). In my recent series Global City Babel many asked about the biblical account of the Tower of Babel and what it meant. I have many opportunities to share God’s word and the everlasting story though my work. I was even allowed to do this in China’s Luxan Fine Art Academy this March.
For more of my interview with Carol Bomer, check out Thursday's post.