Cullen Swearingen: Raised

cullen swearingen

Listen to Cullen unpack his painting here.

I’ve known Cullen since his junior year in high school. Been to Brazil with him. Married him and Jessa. Hired him as an intern and a student pastor. We have stayed up late waxing eloquently on the redemptive themes of the Star Wars movies sans the prequels.

So I had a vested interest in the piece he was submitting to this series. And knowing Cullen, I knew there was going to be some deep symbolism, an assumption in which he did not disappoint.

I will not recount the whole explanation here. I’ll just hit the two big highlights for me.

The first highlight was the tree on the right hand corner. The light from the empty tomb hits the tree and it comes to life. The side with no light – no life. It’s a beautiful reminder of how trees are integral to the story of God.

In the beginning we have two trees…
On Golgatha we have a tree…
Between them we have family trees reminding us of God’s promise…
We will have a tree in the final chapter…

The refrain and inclusion of trees in these paintings were not planned. It’s happened very organically in a way that screams of the hand of the Spirit.

The 2nd big highlight for me and it’s not as noticeable on the digital copy as it is on the canvas are how all the fractures are held together by a red seam. In some of these places, it looks like a red cross. And for good reason – it’s the blood of Christ that redeems and binds all things together. Christ will work in the darkest of places redemptively.

Mentors and Wings
As I was watching Cullen on Sunday, it wasn’t lost on me that sitting in the audience were two of his mentors from the art world: Michael Mize and Brad LeDuc. And that he was speaking in the church where he renewed his relationship with Jesus as a high schooler. And where he now serves on staff.

That’s a pretty good picture of the results of discipleship.

Up Next
This Sunday is Brad LeDuc. It’s hard to imagine this series without his help and leadership. He reached out to these other artists and made introductions. He was the one who captured what this series could have been and helped pushed us to explore what it could look like. He’s also the one I’m very thankful for because I feel like I’ve gained 4 new friends through this process.

I can’t wait for you all to see his work on Sunday.

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