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Mining the Spirit (2)


He begins working on his art every day at 5:30 a.m. and continues until 9:30 a.m., when he prays for an hour before going to his church. After a day at his ministry, he works on his art again after dinner.

“I sometimes have a dilemma about which ought to come first, but I recognize that it’s all the same thing — communicating beauty, love, and helpfulness.

"In the end I want to be a positive contributor.

"Neither profession is lucrative, so both require sacrifice. But both are parts of my same conviction,” confesses Taylor.

As a professional artist, he’s aware that most marketable religious art is representational, clearly depicting sacred events. Yet Taylor identifies with a more abstract spirituality, one that predates Christianity.

“The abstract expressionists were spiritual people in a nondenominational way, going back to the cave paintings of the Neolithic Age. That’s why I work in abstraction,” he explains.

“Abstraction does not need to be complicated. It needs to speak for itself, not to academia. Life itself is abstract. Nothing about it makes perfect sense; even love and peace are mysteries.”

The Dirt

Ironically, this artist’s self-invented method abstracts its medium — from the earth. Over the last quarter century Taylor has exclusively used dirt to make his “paints.”

He considers this a metaphor for the unity of spirit between man and nature under God. “Earth has a spiritual quality of all that is human.

"We are dust and shall return to dust as the Bible teaches. Dirt is also our sustenance. It provides the food we need to live and to grow. I identify with dirt. It has a calming effect on me. It’s tactile. People want to touch my paintings.”

Taylor farms his paint from the land on which he treads — loamy black dirt from local fields, lighter-color dirt from the famous gypsum mines that made Fort Dodge the drywall center of mid-America, and red dirt from the Mississippi Delta of his youth.

“Dirt contains rare tones, gradations, and textures that lend themselves to an immense range of possibilities. No other medium lends itself so well toward expressing infinite space and spiritual universes beyond the visible world. Dirt is timeless and of the soul.”

(Read more Mining the Spirit)

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