Held in the Anne Wright Wilson Art Gallery on the campus of Georgetown College “The Lake of Melchizedek” is a large kinetic work that has been over a year and a half in the making. Based out of the 14th chapter in the book of Genesis this installation confronts the notion of intervention and the current religious trend of solid state belief. The exhibition consists of 5 handmade 18ft rowboats suspended from the ceiling and a handmade writing desk and chair. Suspended in the air by ropes and pulleys the boats are balanced by buckets of water hovering above the floor. As the water in the buckets evaporates over the course of the exhibition the boats slowly make their way down into view.
“The Lake of Melchizedek”
Based out of the 14th chapter in the book of Genesis, this large kinetic installation confronts the notion of intervention and the current religious trend of solid state belief.
After listening to a sermon by Shane Hipps, I have found myself extremely interested in a short encounter of the biblical character Abram and his meeting with two strangers in the desert. The account begins after a victory in battle, when Abram is confronted by the King of Sodom and the King of Salem. The King of Sodom offers Abram a material settlement to buy back his people who were captured in Abram’s victory, while The King of Salem, Melchizedek (a Priest of God Most High) offers a meal of bread and wine. He blesses Abram by saying “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, creator of heaven and earth. And praise be to God Most High who delivered your enemies into your hand.” (Genesis 14:19) Abram responds by giving Melchizedek a tenth of everything from the battle spoils.
From this passage it is clear that God has another way outside of us. At this point in the Jewish story there is no temple, no priesthood of God, and no formal communion with Him. With no temple or priesthood how could there be a Priest of God Most High? How is there already a language of sacrifice (the bread and wine) when there has yet to be a sacrifice? And more so, there is no Jewish law, how does Abram see to give a tenth of his earnings (a tenth is what is required under Jewish law that has yet to be written in Deuteronomy). I see that God has plans and ways outside of what is revealed to us.
Inspired by these ideas and questions, this exhibition uses the boat as a metaphor for the individual, their path and progression. The boats flow and culminate at a writing desk, a place of communication and communion. The buckets of water that would regularly be “the lake” by which the boats float, start beneath the boats that are raised above. And the place in which we should be, above water and in the boat, is where we find ourselves not being. Rather we find ourselves outside of the boats, watching them from below. The writing desk, the place where we would express and address is found where it is not expected, below the boats as well. The chair from which one would interact with the desk is separated from its pairing across the exhibition space. I see the desk as the form of God, and the Chair that of the Christ. We find them there to meet us outside the current and outside of the boat, below the surface and it is only through the chair that we can interact with the desk.
As the water evaporates, the “lake” transitions from a contained form in the buckets, into a breathable lake that we all take part in. The desk and chair stay still while the boats move down to meet them. It is through this action of emptying the ballasts of ones self that we find ourselves sinking (not to be confused with drowning). So what do we find at the bottom of this lake? What do we find at the place where we are emptied of our weight? We find the thing that is least expected, a place of communication with The God Most High. We find an invitation into a kingdom that is different that the orientation of the world. This simple story in Genesis has created a turning point in my approach towards the role of people in the larger Christian narrative. We often times place ourselves in a subverted position of power. This meeting in a desert shares with us that God’s ways are truly independent of us. Who are we that we are needed? The answer is, we are not. Why does God choose to use us to enact his will when He could act more efficiently and directly? I believe it is by His inclusive love, grandeur, majesty and mystery that He invites us into our own lives. It is this Genesis 14 admittance of another shoreline and of another Way that we find ourselves looking and finding, irrespective of our value and efficiency. For it is only through the act of traveling with no sails or oars that we see our inheritance reflected into our actions and in turn see the work of God in what we do.