Visualizing John by Amy Lee
While reading the bible in art school, I formulated a personal understanding of the narratives. I learned painting and graphic design and received my diploma 6 months before the pandemic. During the first year of isolation, I began to draw little ink icons for every few words of the Gospel of John. It wasn’t my plan to address my faith in my work, and at first it seemed like the project might skate by with clever tongue-in-cheek nods to art world happenings—such as Cattelan’s banana taped to a wall in verse 8, a self portrait of the artist social distancing in verse 29, and an intertextual reference in verse 36 to Saint-Exupéry’s titular Little Prince who demands of the author-cum-artist, “Draw me a sheep!”
I knew I wanted to work with data in a way that was palatable to the creative arts. It was a surprise to discover open-source code libraries I could use to expand the role of technology in my art. As my computer skills improved, and the project naturally grew in scope, vaccines were rolled out, and I considered how I would define my project beyond the second year of the pandemic. How would I account for my choice of manuscript, without it being a direct response to the apocalyptic health nightmare still unfolding endlessly? I needed my theology to carry its own spiritual impact, to be awesome in the absence of fear. At last, it is a project that visualizes the data of a literary text, one which is universal across cultures, yet which is personal to each individual.