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About Me

Hi!

I'M jim baker

I am a New Mexican mixed-media artist working in the creation of three dimensional altered Bibles and DEVOTIONAL art.

My work is strongly influenced by my years as a pastor and by my love for the Bible and sacred writings. My art combines antique repurposed Bibles with Biblical symbols, metaphors, stories, and artifacts to inspire devotion and worship of God, provoke spiritual conversations, and uncover the often hidden meaning in Holy Scripture. 

For most of my life I never considered myself particularly creative or artistic. My work in church administration kept me primarily in the left brain. Over time though, I came to understand that structure and organization can be a creative enterprise. That creativity can be exercised in the designing and presenting of reports and the conceptualizing of processes and systems. And, I came to see art as organized beauty and religion as organized spirituality. This realization freed me to begin accessing both my organized left brain and my creative right brain to uniquely express my personal spiritual journey and my understanding of Holy Scripture. 

 The result is what I call “Sacred Structures,” that convey my belief that the Bible cannot be fully interpreted and applied without understanding its metaphors, symbols, and stories. Jesus modeled this practice when he took what he saw around him……..animals, flowers, trees, vines, bread, wine, yokes and used them as metaphors and parables to communicate truth. For me, art is an expression or representation of my most cherished values and my evolving spiritual journey. Hopefully, through my art I am able to inspire and connect with others who share similar values and spiritual journeys.  



MY Inspiration

All of my work is inspired by the Bible and the 40 authors who wrote it over a 1500 year period. My work reflects the diversity of those writers. Some were kings and prophets, others were shepherds, fishermen, and physicians….people from all walks of life. They lived at different times but used a common language of stories, symbols, and metaphors to communicate a central message – God, who created us all, desires a personal relationship with us through His Spirit and His Son, Jesus.

As a pastor for over 40 years I frequently came across old Bibles in different languages and translations. I discovered there is a vast trove of old Bibles in many languages in a state of disrepair and disuse. My desire became to somehow repurpose these old Bibles, to give them a new life and a new purpose. Turning them into pieces of art seemed to me an appropriate way to restore their beauty and transform their usefulness into something that could serve as a visual reminder of one’s faith heritage and could continue to be passed down from generation to generation. 

The realization that the word “religion” comes from the Latin word, Re-ligio, which means “to rebind,” prompted me to rebind these old Bibles in a manner where the focus is on the pages and the truths the words portray. 

My final bit of inspiration came from the knowledge that from the beginning of time every culture and faith group has used stories, metaphors, and symbols to communicate the history, values, and truths they hold dear. Because my faith heritage is Judeo-Christian, I drape these re-stitched Bibles from a Biblical symbol, metaphor, or story. 

Techniques and process

I use a variety of media in my sacred structures, including paper, wood, stone, rusted nails, metal, and salvaged wood. At times I create the metaphorical structure the Bibles are mounted on and at times I find an existing piece that I can incorporate, such as a yoke, skull, boat, cross, or other religious relic or symbol. I especially enjoy incorporating found and discarded items to represent how Christ “makes all things new” and can repair and repurpose our brokenness and mistakes for his purposes. 

Most of my art structures incorporate an antique Bible. Prior to 1860, especially in Europe, Bibles were printed with bold black ink on heavier and thicker paper due to the especially high percentage of rag content, or scrap cloth, used in making the paper. While today’s papers are thinner and are prone to crack and yellow with aging, pre-1860 papers are often found to have survived fire and flood and outlived their leather covers and bindings. I found this older, heavier, and thicker paper has a beauty all its own and drapes gracefully when re-stitched and hung in a U-shape. 

The pages of each antique Bible are carefully and prayerfully hand torn into strips. The size of the Bible dictates the size and number of strips. The torn strips are then grouped in sections, or “signatures,” of 10-15 folded pages and are adhered with a Nepalese handmade paper that comes from the bark of the Himalayan Lokta plant. The sections are hand sewn together with waxed linen thread using a 4th century Ethiopian Coptic stitching. Finally, the sewn signatures are draped over a religious metaphorical or symbolic structure forming a U-shape. The U-shaped drape of each altered Bible represents God’s Word as a container providing a vessel for our belief system. The inside of the U-shaped Bible represents the contents of our inner spiritual lives, the communing with God in our spirit through prayer, reflection, contemplation, and creation. 

galleries and exhibitions

Gallery Representations: 

Convento Gallery – Northern New Mexico Regional Art Center, Espanola, New Mexico 2019 - Present 

Jemez Fine Art Gallery, Jemez Springs, New Mexico 2018 – Present 

Seraphim Gallery Studio, Santa Fe, New Mexico – Coming in the Spring of 2020 

Solo Exhibitions:

Convento Gallery – Sacred Structures, Espanola, New Mexico 2019 

Jemez Fine Art Gallery – Sacred Structures, Jemez Springs, New Mexico 2018-2019 

Group Exhibitions: 

Recycle Santa Fe Art Festival (Honorable Mention) – Santa Fe, New Mexico 2017

New Mexico Capitol Rotunda Gallery Book Art Show – No Library Card Needed, Santa Fe, NM 2019 

La Sala de Galisteo Gallery – Under the Influences, Galisteo, New Mexico 2019 

Stables Gallery - Arte De Descartes XIX, Taos, New Mexico 2019 

Galleria Arriba - Two Tours Show – Abiquiu, New Mexico – 2017 

The Lavender Festival – Abiquiu, New Mexico – 2016-2017 

Abiquiu Studio Tour – Abiquiu, New Mexico 2016-2019 

The Abbey – 10th Annual Religious Fine Art Show, Canon City, CO 2019 

Fuller Lodge Art Center – Spirit Lines, 2018; Inner Workings, 2018; Mapmaker 2019; Vessel, 2019, Fuller Lodge Art Center, Los Alamos, New Mexico  

The Episcopal Church Visual Arts Online Exhibition – Universal Christ – 2019        

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