Painting the Bible to Life

Rachel Lead

The world is full of art--from nature made by God to masterpieces created by mankind, creation is inescapable as we are constantly surrounded by both the fingerprint of God and of humanity. But more intimate is the work that is created out of a passion, not only for art but for the Creator who instills a love for artistic expression. Such is the case for DBU Alumna Rachel Wimpey, whose artwork is a visual representation of her faith that portrays both a passion for Christ and the artistic mind.

During her time as a student at DBU, Rachel was commissioned to paint the mural that is now displayed on the back wall of Sadler Hall in Pilgrim Chapel. The three painted panels depict the major building projects at DBU over the previous years, including the Chapel building. It would not be until after she graduated in 2010 that Rachel finished painting the scene. "I was usually in my Chapel studio from 2 to 11 at night," Rachel explained. "Working in the Chapel for so many months really gave me the sense that I was working on holy ground, and I did not take my project lightly. I wanted the painting to reflect the goal of DBU and so I placed Jesus as the focal point in the painting, with all the sightlines leading back to Him."

More recently, and six years after completing the DBU mural, Rachel received a special commission by the newly established Institute for Creation Research in Dallas to paint the 7 days of creation, entitled Let There Be. The works are the first thing attendees see as they walk in through the doors. "This is now by far the most complex project I have undertaken, and it took two years to complete, "Rachel shared. "Throughout the whole process, I continually reminded myself, if I finished the DBU mural, I can finish this one. The DBU mural was a stepping stone for me into a larger scale of intricate design and composition. It set a new threshold of what was artistically possible for me personally."

Rachel states that she approaches all her artwork in the light of her faith, just as she did with her mural in Sadler Hall and now at the Institute for Creation Research. "Jesus affects the way I approach my artwork because I try to view everything I create as a gift to Him," Rachel said. "I want my work to reflect beauty and truth. My goal as an artist is to help people have a visual encounter with the Word of God. Whether that's a specific Bible story, a depiction of Jesus, or scenes of the beauty of creation, my work aims to help people have a deeper understanding of spiritual realities and who God is. When we truly come to an understanding of God as Creator and Sustainer of the entire universe, it helps us surrender and trust Him more."

Currently, Rachel owns an art studio in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and she is now gearing up for a trip to Israel this winter as she starts new projects. "Now, I am working with a non-profit group based in Jerusalem and will be spending time there this winter working, studying, sketching, and researching for my next Biblical series."

For aspiring artists, Rachel encourages believers to honor God with their artistic talents and endeavors, ultimately bringing glory to Him alone. "We have to remember that, as believers, we can produce any style and any type of work that brings God glory when that is our focus and intent," Rachel shared. "It can be an abstract painting, a landscape, a ceramic, a sculpture you name it. We can bring glory to God, no matter the subject because God is the Creator of all things. When our work is done with excellence, it brings even more honor to Him." Rachel says that "excellence, not perfection," is the mantra of her studio. "When we allow God to work in us, and then through our artwork, it has the power to affect real change in people. That is why I am an artist. I want people to hear from God in a visual way."

For more information on where to find Rachel's paintings, visit Willowbrush, or the next time you visit Sadler Hall, take a moment to admire the mural created by one of DBU's own.

Written by Faith Myers

Faith Myers is a member of University Communications at Dallas Baptist University.