Nathan Greene to be present for artistic portrayal of Jesus’ return
A new painting by Adventist artist Nathan Greene titled The Second Coming will be unveiled at the General Conference session in Atlanta Friday, July 2. Adventist Review managing editor Stephen Chavez spoke to Greene in a telephone interview from Greene’s home in Michigan about the challenges of portraying such an epic event.
CHAVEZ: How did this project come about?
GREENE: A number of times [evangelist] Mark Finley had asked [Hart Research Center president] Dan Houghton and me if it would be possible to do a new depiction of the Second Coming. It’s a big investment of time and money.
A few years ago I was in Tucson, Arizona, for ministerial meetings and Mark Finley was there. I asked him what I could do as an Adventist artist to contribute something important to the Adventist Church. Right away he said, “A new Second Coming painting.”
How will this be different from anything we’ve seen before?
It’s a fairly traditional approach, but it’s very culturally diverse. That was probably the most important thing Mark stressed. We need something that’s very diverse, so that people all over the world can recognize and indentify with it.
Even with the angels I have cultural diversity. I have angels that reflect, subtly so, everyone from Caucasian, African-American, Asian-Indian, Filipino. Even the model I use for Jesus is half Cuban and half Spaniard.
What are the dimensions of this painting, and where will it be exhibited?
It’s eight feet long by about five and a half feet tall. My understanding is that it will hang in the new Hope Channel building at the General Conference.
I imagine it will be used in a lot of the evangelistic slides and presentations.
We actually delayed releasing a new CD of all the images for PowerPoint because we wanted this to be in it. We feel that this is something that can be used pretty extensively.
Doing the Second Coming has been one of your burdens, hasn’t it?
Twenty-two years ago I was visiting [Adventist illustrator] Harry Anderson in his home in Connecticut. I asked him, “What was your most difficult challenge as an illustrator?”
He said, “Depicting the Second Coming.” He said it was actually something he put off for a long time and didn’t really want to try to attempt, because how could a human being, with all our limitations, render something so spectacular.
I thought, One of these days I may be in that position of trying to render it.
When this painting is finished, what do you hope people will take away from it?
I hope they’ll get a glimpse of what [the Second Coming] might be like; also that it’s a worldwide event. The painting is somewhat symbolic, in that I have people from all over the world in one place at one time, which, in reality, they wouldn’t all be together at one place. But I hope they’ll get excited about the reality, the real thing. It’s not some fantasy we’ve concocted.