Which Came First: Color or A Way to See It

For the past several years small groups of folks have explored art with me here in Memphis, Tennessee. It was the birth of sharing my ideas about Art with a broader audience. These Art adventures are a part of my church’s Summer Refreshment EventsGo to the link to register for the next event.

Thursday our group of Art explorers visited the transcendent works of Zao Wou-Ki Watercolors. This exhibit is proof of the function of Art in a community. Art exists to connect us and to encourage us. Zao Wou-Ki’s delicate powerful art does that for us.

These paintings made us pause and reflect. The discussion for this evening was on the function of color in our world, specifically in art. The central question, “Which came first, color or the way we see color?”

Much like chicken and eggs the idea is one of the philosophy of origin. I often asked my students this question to help them to wonder about the complexity of God by considering the human eye and the perception of color.

Genesis 1:3 “Then God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.” In that moment God made all color. For Himself. Light is the essence of color.

Color is the perceptual characteristic of light described by a color name. Specifically, color is light, and light is composed of many colors—those we see are the colors of the visual spectrum: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet. Objects absorb certain wavelengths and reflect others back to the viewer. We perceive these wavelengths as color.” Janet L. Ford Shallbetter

This definition comes from the experts on color at worqx.com. Color is Light.

The proof is in these translucent layers of colors laid on paper by Zao Wou-Ki. He captured and shared his perceptions of the beauty of bamboo, water and the garden.

Layers of lines bisecting the planes of reds and pinks narrate his sight for history. And we, the viewers, are enfolded in the richness of his experience. This work illustrates that light came first. Color came first. Then came our eye to SEE, to enJOY, all that is made. Thank God that He made color! Thank God He made our eye to see them, even though, I believe He reserved some for Himself exclusively; some colors only God can see.

One response to “Which Came First: Color or A Way to See It”

  1. Dawn Talley Dalton Avatar
    Dawn Talley Dalton


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