Poor Man's Bible

Graduation project Design Academy Eindhoven
Showcased at virtual Dutch Design Week
Illustration by Roberts Rūrāns
Photographs by Angéline Behr

Poor Man’s Bible is a series of stained glass artworks that look at human’s correlation with nature from a biblical perspective.

As a child, I grew up in a Christian community. What still remains in my consciousness to this day are the illustrations from the Bible picture books. Often they state how a humans relationship to nature should be, for example, Genesis says, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” I wonder how far we have stretched this concept. While nowadays climate change is a political terrain, it manifests itself in scenarios that have all the hallmarks of biblical narrative -  the days of violent storms, plagues, resource scarcity, have come. I want to alert people by using the symbolic language of stained glass. Often referred to as ‘The Poor Man’s Bible’, it has come into use to illustrate the narratives of the Bible, originally for a largely illiterate populace. One of the main functions it held within a church was to show the viewer the way to Salvation, which was achieved by exposing a message of responsibility and ambition.

According to the Bible, a man reaps what he sows. Svalbard archipelago in Norway is the place where arctic drilling has taken place with its direct contribution to global warming and ice melting. Just a few yards away stands the Global Seed Vault where we keep seeds of all biodiversity to keep our world running in case a climate catastrophe occurs. For this glass story I chose to show the juxtaposition of the attempt to build ‘the ark’, while causing ‘the flood’ at the same time (and place).