Artist’s Story (told by Melina Daniels)
The story of how the painting was made and how it affected people’s lives is told by the artist’s wife, Melina Daniels, on the Makers and Mystics podcast (Season 2 Episode 7). She is being interviewed by the podcast’s presenter: Stephen Roach.
We had a print of one of Jacob’s paintings – Imago Dei – of a black man ascending into Heaven – and that painting was his perception of the ascension of Christ in modern day. That painting was a vision Jacob got 6 months before the Charleston shooting at the church and he got this idea to do a modern day time of what Jesus would look like ascending into heaven. And this painting is one of the most famous religious paintings out there – there’s hundreds of churches and cathedrals and renditions in traditional settings of a white man who looks very old and sad and crucified, ascending into heaven . Jacob wanted to do a contemporary version of this. He had a vision and he took a photo of one of our friends, RJ, took 25-30 photos of him and photoshopped him to look like he was ascending. He said “I’m painting, this, man.” This painting is beautiful: it’s 6 foot by 4 foot, hanging in our Church gallery.
But fast forward 6 months, Jacob was like “I don’t know what I’m doing with this painting, but he says, I want to call it “Imago Dei”, which means the image of Christ. But all of a sudden when that church shooting happened in Charleston, Jacob felt compelled as a love offering, or a gift, to send a large print of that painting down there, as an expression of condolences. So he send it down with a couple, a family that were going down just to visit to love on them, and when they brought the painting into the church, there were women in the church handwriting thankyou letters saw it and they just fell to their knees:
“Oh my gosh! That looks just like them – that looks like him – that looks just like him! Come over and check it out. Look that’s him! That’s him!”
And the group of women were just gasping at this painting.
That looked just like the youngest man shot that day – that dove in front of his grandmother to save her. And he died from the shooting, but saved his grandmother. But it literally looked identical to him but Jacob had no clue.”