There are four panels in the Boniuk Center’s 2011 Sacred Sites Quest capstone mural. The images read from left to right to comprise a coherent visual narrative. After focusing initially on universal themes of light
in panels one and two, panels three and four invoke the motif of spiritual growth
on the path to divinity
. Each of the four panels stands on its own; yet each is also intimately bound up with the others to form the entire narrative arc.Mural #1: The Light Panel
The more facets one cuts into a diamond, the more brilliantly it shines. The more viewpoints we add to the religious conversation, the more the light of divinity can illuminate our lives. The universality of light and color motifs in the sacred spaces we visited led us to create this first mural. The triad of fractal images, in the three primary colors, reflects that sacredness not only lights our pathways, but also results from our working and exploring holy paths together. We used a rainbow of colors throughout the panel to show the value of seeing the whole spectrum. The figures here are made of mirrors to reflect that religious tolerance applies to everyone, and to show that all of us are journeying on a spiritual pathway. This panel portrays the ways that understanding can light our lives, and the beauty of seeing the full range of colors and religious beliefs.Mural #2: The Water Panel
Just as light struck our 2011 SSQ’ers as a universal theme and salient feature of these sacred spaces, so did water. The water panel depicts the cyclical nature of water in sustaining both faith and the circle of life. The multi-hued rivers represent different—yet parallel—spiritual paths. They flow into the teeming oceans that cover—and unite—the globe. The water then evaporates up into the clouds before returning as rain to fortify the earth and all living things. Faith also sustains many of us as generatively as water does. The eleven mirrors reflecting the sparkling water represent the eleven sacred spaces our 24 students visited on their quest. The prayerful hands form an arch, evocative of this structural feature common to many of the sites. The sun on the horizon illumines the scene, just as it does in the adjoining panels.Mural #3: The Growth Panel
Ideally, light and water “intertwine” to facilitate growth. This growth can be literal and organic; it can also be metaphorical and spiritual. Organic and spiritual growth provide the path through which humans pursue the divine. The trunk of the growing tree symbolizes this path toward spiritual growth. The crown of the tree depicts the globe, and the SSQ students’ multi-hued handprints represent the tree’s roots. The seven mirrors reflecting the viewers on our own spiritual paths allude to the seven continents that—like the oceans and countless faith traditions—sustain life on earth.Mural #4: The Divinity Panel
The divinity panel, the culmination of the three previous murals, is divided into thirds. It represents the apex of spiritual expression and completes the narrative arc of these four pieces of art. The bottom third of this panel represents the realm of earth and all non-human forms of life. The middle section depicts humanity—in both its fundamental unity and inestimable diversity. The top third represents the celestial domain, the realm of the divine. Water and light together nourish all forms of life—and people—on earth. Nurtured by these essential life-giving elements, many of us also pursue spiritual growth on the path toward divinity, the ultimate.
Discerning viewers will no doubt find other significant aspects of the murals on these panels. So we encourage you to interpret them in your own ways, on your own terms, too. Please note as well the themes, motifs, and images that recur among all four.
Without explicitly invoking any overtly religious symbols from particular religious traditions, the artists strive to convey through these murals some of the essential, transcendent components of spiritual faith as they encountered it in their eleven sacred sites.