Bone of My Bones
The Connie Eastburn Gallery currently hosts a masterful collection by Mark Potter, Bone of my Bones: Wood Sculptures Celebrating the Meaning and Mystery of Marriage. The exhibit consists of forty pieces, each elegantly carved and depicting an aspect of marriage. There is deep imagery in each carving. Placards accompany each piece to give insight into the vision behind the art. Through this beautiful medium, Mark tells the story of a love that bonds people to each other and to God in profound and powerful ways.
Unity and diversity are frequently used to describe the union of marriage. Marriage is the coming together of two individuals who choose to walk through life together. This is portrayed in the piece Till Death Do Us Part. To relate the fifty-five year marriage of his parents, Mark binds a piece of oak and a piece of cherry by inserting a third, foreign material to hold them together. Fifty-five pairs of wood blocks line the wall. Each set varies from the last; there are different grains, textures, and heights all along the way. Yet at the end of the row, the cherry piece stands alone. Two people are intended to walk through life together, growing stronger despite all hardships and differences, until death.
Two complementary pieces, Young Love and Old Love, show the strength and growth of love as it ages. The first piece is thin, long, and pale, depicting love as it first begins. Mark continues the picture with words like electric, sleek, and elegant to describe it. The second, in contrast, is thick, beautiful, and punctured with the grit it encountered as it grew. Old love is not beautiful because hardship has been easy, but because it absorbs everything it encounters, adding meaning to its beauty. The placard says old love “grows as slowly and as quietly and as beautifully as trees.” Love tested and weathered by time is sturdy. This piece also likens God’s love toward us. He will not deny us but will love us, even if that love comes in painful form. Old love takes time, but it is much richer than young love.
Set in the middle of the exhibit is a glossy bench made of cherry and rosewood called Two Become One. Why a bench? The piece speaks for itself: “Out of [marriage’s] unity and diversity come the furniture of our lives: the younger generation sits upon the curving marriage-bench made by the union of the very bodies and lives of the older generation. Therefore, as goes marriage, so goes a nation.” Marriage is, or ought to be, the bench on which we rest, the shelter in which we are raised. God created it to be so. The intimacy between two individuals has a lasting impact on those who encounter it, and consequently, the world.
How does an exhibit on marriage influence us as college students? Marriage is the bedrock from which we have come. It is what began us, and we are the going of a nation. We must love well and love deeply, as Christ has loved us, so that those who come after us may have a foundation upon which to stand. We cannot separate the truth of God’s love from its beauty but must convey them as joined and inseparable to those around us. Mark Potter has embodied the essence of marriage in his carvings, and there is much to learn in an hour spent among his work.