MAPLEWOOD, NJ — Two young New Jersey artists have revisited one of Christendom’s holiest events, seeking new ways of visualizing Jesus’ agonized walk along the “Way of the Cross” as he carried the cross to his own crucifixion. Their reinterpretations, in paint and in pyrography — images burned into wood, were commissioned by St. George’s Episcopal Church, 550 Ridgewood Road in Maplewood, and will be unveiled to the congregation and community with live music, lively discussion and refreshments Sunday, Jan. 29, from 2 to 4 p.m.
The artists, Jo-El Lopez, of Paterson, and Lizette Louis, of Union County, will discuss their inspirations and interpretations at 3 p.m. Lopez, who is an artist in-residence at Gallery Aferro in Newark, is celebrated for his visual storytelling and bold colors as he explores the “intersection of faith and modernity.” His work has been seen at the Newark Museum, El Museo Del Barrio and in large murals in the city of Newark.
His life as an artist almost didn’t happen. Born in Puerto Rico and raised in Paterson, Lopez studied business and fine arts at Kean University and Montclair State University, preparing, he said, “for a life in the corporate arena. But my life’s journey has led me back to art-making and my true passion.”
Louis keeps a foot in both the world of commerce and the world of art: She studied art at New Jersey City University and is now part of the Ethan Allen interior design team in Englishtown, a career primed by stints at Ashley Home Store and Calvin Klein. She, too, “focuses on portraying sentiment and nostalgia” in her artwork, made by “writing with fire.”
Photos Courtesy of Rose Bennett Gilbert