Visitors will never look at the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s headquarters in the same way again.
The foyer and atrium of the church’s headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland, have been transformed into an art gallery that takes viewers on a journey from Adam and Eve’s garden home some 6,000 years ago to the Earth made new after Jesus’ return.
The 78 paintings of the “Eden to Eden” collection portray God’s guiding hand in the activities of His people down through the ages and now in the Adventist Church ahead of His soon return, said Ted N.C. Wilson, president of the Adventist world church.
“It pulls you in,” Wilson told top church leaders at a dedication of the permanent exhibition this week.
“When you visit ‘Eden to Eden,’ you will see how God has led His people every step of the way,” said Wilson, who began work on the exhibit shortly after being elected president in 2010.
The paintings — selected by Adventist artist Lars Justinen and Tanya Holland, design manager at the Adventist world church’s communication department — bring together beloved classics by artists such as Harry Anderson and contemporary works by Nathan Greene, Steve Creitz, and Justinen himself.
The paintings in the exhibit are handsome replicas, printed on canvas and hung in frames. The exhibit was conceived, constructed, and implemented by FlipTV, an Adventist-operated production company in Laurel, Maryland.
“Eden to Eden” aims to help visitors, church members, and church employees immediately understand as they enter the building that the Adventist Church’s headquarters is a highly spiritual and religious center, Wilson said in an interview.
“Visitors need to fully appreciate the great controversy theme that is being played out before the universe and that soon Jesus will come as the Victor,” he said.
A downloaded MP3 tour in English, Spanish, Portuguese, and French is in the works. Visitors will be able to download the tour on their cell phones or other portable electronic devices and listen to it through their own ear buds or earphones. The English-language tour will be narrated by evangelist Mark Finley.
“I want you to know that after ‘Eden to Eden,’ the General Conference will never be the same again,” exhibit coordinator Williams S. Costa Jr., communication director of the Adventist world church, said at the dedication ceremony.
Here are 20 paintings that Justinen, creative director of the “Eden to Eden” collection, chose to showcase for Adventist Review readers:
Justinen explained why he chose these 20 paintings:
“In choosing these 20, I have focused on paintings that have a lucid and dramatic visual appeal, images that communicate clearly a Scriptural event and stimulate our imaginations,” he said. “I included paintings that are new to most people, some having been painted just within the past year. Some are classics that never get old, such as the great works of Harry Anderson. Some are familiar to many of us, such as the beautiful works of Nathan Greene. And some represent the new art of rising Adventist artists like Steve Creitz.
“All these images should remind the viewer of various parts of the great mosaic arch of mankind’s spiritual journey, the story of how things came to be the way they are, and what God wants us to understand about who He is and what He has planned for us. I hope you find a painting or two that resonates personally with your spiritual journey — art that speaks the unspoken words of the Spirit. Words of hope and faith.”
Ted N.C. Wilson, president of the Adventist world church, prays at the opening of the "Eden to Eden" permanent exhibition at the General Conference headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland, on April 12, 2015. Courtesy of Mylon Medley / ANN