Coming (2022)

Installation: cloth, ink, acrylic paints, lights, pins, cables

Coming is an Advent-themed textile installation work that features nine hanging cloths. Advent is a season of intentioned waiting, anticipation, and celebration observed by most Christian denominations between the end of November and December. Each of the nine cloths is covered in handwritten text that corresponds with nine biblical scriptures that predicate the coming of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, the central figure of Christian faith. The words on the cloth are tangible, paralleling the celebration of the divine scriptures' incarnation in Christ’s first coming. The cloth is also hung in a way that could be interpreted as ascending or descending, just as the holy Word has been given from heaven and yet is lifted up again through contemplation and veneration. The unveiling of this installation took place during a Lessons & Carols service in the historical church building at Sansom & 17th Street in Center City, Philadelphia, USA. During the service the cloths engage in a sort of performance where Towsley illuminates a single cloth as its' inscribed scripture is read aloud by a liturgist. The congregants of Resurrection Philadelphia participate in the traditional liturgy of this service (songs, lessons and scriptures may be explored in the bulletin below) while the installation itself conceptually enriches the worship of those who attend the service.

A tenth cloth hung at the front of the sanctuary above the baptistery features a painting of an abstracted landscape inspired by Malcolm Guite's poem, ‘O Oriens.' The words of this poem are written on the eleventh cloth draped in front of the painting:

First light and then first lines along the east

To touch and brush a sheen of light on water,

As though behind the sky itself they traced

The shift and shimmer of another river

Flowing unbidden from its hidden source;

The Day-Spring, the eternal Prima Vera.

Blake saw it too. Dante and Beatrice

Are bathing in it now, away upstream . . .

So every trace of light begins a grace

In me, a beckoning. The smallest gleam

Is somehow a beginning and a calling:

‘Sleeper awake, the darkness was a dream

For you will see the Dayspring at your waking,

Beyond your long last line the dawn is breaking.’

First Lesson (Genesis 3:8-15, 17-19) God tells Adam that he has lost the life of Paradise and that his offspring will strike the serpent’s head

Second Lesson (Genesis 22:15-18) God promises to bless the earth through Abraham’s offspring

Third Lesson (Isaiah 9:2, 6-7) The Prophet foretells the coming of the Savior

Fourth Lesson (Isaiah 11:1-9) The peace that Christ will bring is foreshown

Fifth Lesson (Luke 1:26-35, 38) The angel Gabriel greets Mary

Sixth Lesson (Luke 2:1-7) Luke tells of the birth of Jesus

Seventh Lesson (Luke 2:8-16 ) The shepherds go to the manger

Eighth Lesson (Matthew 2:1-12) The wise men seek Jesus

Ninth Lesson (John 1:1-14) John unfolds the mystery of the Incarnation