The burnt-orange hues of Antelope Canyon in Arizona; mountain reflections in Germany’s pristine Lake Sylvenstein; and the billowing, star-studded clouds of Orion’s Horsehead Nebula — these are among 14 breathtaking photos installed along a lobby wall to greet those who enter La Sierra Hall, home of the H.M.S. Richards Divinity School at La Sierra University in Riverside, California, United States.
Called the Creation Wall, it is the conceptualization of Divinity School dean Freidbert Ninow, an avid amateur photographer who desired to commemorate the Creator’s work through a wide-ranging display of photographs from among hundreds taken over the past three years —representing just a tiny fraction of tens of thousands Ninow has taken over a lifetime. The Creation Wall photos depict exquisite natural scenes in vivid color, including celestial realms captured through astrophotography.
On November 7, 2022, the Divinity School unveiled and dedicated the Creation Wall installation. The photographic montage stands opposite a glass-walled meeting room where a large mural depicting Jesus and the last supper is displayed.
A handout for the unveiling gives information about the photographs and describes the wall’s purpose. “We believe that this world we live in, the world around us, and the world beyond our reach has been called into existence by a gracious God.… As you enter the La Sierra Hall lobby, this Creation Wall stands juxtaposed to the wall to your left which reminds us of God our Redeemer in the Eucharist. God’s grace in creation and redemption,” the statement reads.
“This wall was empty,” Ninow said to those who gathered for the unveiling event. “So, two years ago or so, I got the idea since I have a hobby called photography to create what I will call the Creation Wall. I placed some of my photo work here and tried to honor God’s creation by doing this.”
“This is also exciting for me because I haven’t seen it before this moment,” La Sierra University president Joy Fehr said at the ceremony. “To realize the ways in which God works in our lives from the very beginning through to the gift of life eternal as is illustrated here is amazing.”
Ninow said the process of choosing photos for the wall took longer than he anticipated. “I didn’t want to do seven days [of creation] and seven photos, but to really express my appreciation for creation through the work I do,” he said.
Ninow’s interests in photography were piqued in adolescence when he began shooting landscapes and portraits. Many years later he encountered astrophotography through the influence of a friend. Delving into a whole different photographic world required a telescope, a tracking mount, a steep learning curve with computer programs, and lots of patience. A feature story in the Fall 2021 issue of the La Sierra University alumni magazine documents Ninow’s journey into this photographic dimension.
The initial concept for a photographic commemoration of God’s creation of the world was inspired through his work in astrophotography, Ninow said, when he was “noticing the vast spaces and the awe of what is out there.”