Advent in Art #3: Nativity

Nativity, James B Janknegt, 2002, oil on canvas

Nativity, James B Janknegt, 2002, oil on canvas

In this week’s Advent in Art painting, Christ is born!

We’re a little early, as I’ve said before, because in the Southern Hemisphere we don’t expect anyone to be around after Christmas Day itself. We have to get the whole story in before everyone goes camping.

Kids really benefit from repetition and preparation. They love turning up to church or school knowing in advance what’s going to happen, having something to contribute. This week’s painting is a particularly good one to chat over with a small person. Early or not, they’ll enjoy knowing things about the story and discovering new ideas about it.

Some starter questions for you and them about James B Janknegt‘s portrayal of two parts of the Nativity story:

What do you notice first?
How many different colours and patterns can you see? What might they tell us about the story?
What presents would you bring to Baby Jesus and his family? What have the visitors brought?
Who is in the garden, and what might he be doing?
What do you think the mum is thinking about? How is she feeling?
If you were painting this story, what would you want to show?
If you were in the painting, where would you be and what would you be doing?

My first thought when I saw the man in the garden was that he was burying the placenta, something that is common among Maori, and increasingly, among other New Zealanders.

The Navajo in America apparently do the same, so perhaps that was in Janknegt’s mind too. Or not. What else might the man in the garden be doing?

This is the third in a series of Advent paintings by James B Janknegt, curated by Alison Squires, from a concept by Mark Pierson, as a project of World Vision New Zealand for the spiritual nurture of their staff.

You can visit the Advent in Art site directly and have Mark’s reflection questions and ritual ideas emailed to you each week, and see our discussions here beginning in the first week with Advent in Art #1: Announcement. Further artworks by James B Janknegt can be seen at BC Art Farm.

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0 comments on “Advent in Art #3: Nativity”

  1. Caroline Reply

    Thanks for that one – we now have stories of the 3 wise men bringing gifts of gold, frankincence, myrrh and a highchair! I’m sure Mary would have been more pleased to have something more practical. I wonder what she did with the G,F & M.

    H(3) was also surprised that there was someone digging in the garden, but I’m guessing that’s John the Baptist doing the ground-work to prepare for the coming of Jesus’ message.

  2. not a wild hera Reply

    Brilliant! Make sure you take the painting along to church to explain her answer at the next children’s Christmas talk 🙂

    Doing the ground-work. I like it. But shouldn’t he be a gurgling baby still? (Not that the painting needs to follow laws of time, of course, so your idea stands.)

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