Christian Graffiti

"According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building on it. Each builder must choose with care how to build on it." 1 Corinthians 3:10

Art is not created in a vacuum. Each of us builds on the work of those who have gone before us, adding our own unique vision to a larger body.

This photograph was taken in the Temple of Dendera. North of Luxor, in Egypt, this temple looks like many ancient Egyptian temples, but all is not as it seems. Just as a neo-gothic church was built to harken back to the mystery of gothic churches built centuries earlier, this temple was built by the Ptolemies who ruled Egypt from 305 BCE to 30 BC. They were a Greek family who came to rule Egypt following Alexander the Great's conquest. The Ptolemies built new buildings in the style of the ancient Egyptians of 2,000 years earlier. This picture is of the hypostyle hall with its 18-Hathor Columns supporting a roof decorated with astrological scenes. This Ptolemaic temple was built on the foundations of a temple that probably dated to Khufu from around 2570 BCE. The temple was begun by the Ptolemies and completed by the Roman Emperor Tiberius who reigned during Jesus' lifetime.

It is neither purely Egyptian nor Greek, but a Greek interpretation of the glory of Egypt. Then graffitied on this column is a cross from a time when the hall was used for Christian worship. The cross is carved so that a Egyptian God is holding it aloft giving the old column yet a new interpretation. Then adding its own layer of meaning, I photographed the hall with light slanting through the old temple thinking of how each of us builds on what has gone before.

Like every work of art, the photograph is as much my autobiography as anything. Each work is another page in the diary of the artist as the choices made in creating a piece all reflect the creator. Each layer from Khufu, to Ptolemies, to Tiberius, to Christian graffiti, to a contemporary photograph leaves meaning hidden within the finished print. Each layer the diary entry of an artist contributing to a much larger work.

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Image and words by The Rev. Frank Logue, Vicar, ©2008
King of Peace Episcopal Church
Kingsland, Georgia

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