by Gerald Griffin
Oil on canvas
This painting by Gerald Griffin was commissioned
by the Fourth Church Racial Equity Council
and dedicated on September 22, 2019.
A poem by Gerald Griffin
I saw him rise
After he was beaten down
Hold up his head
After they stole his crown . . .
Learned how to speak
After his words were taken away
How to see in the dark
After they hid him from the light of day . . .
He dared to multiply
After they murdered his numbers
He still refused to die
After they buried him under
He was the very first
The original head of class
He endured the worst
But he will be the last . . .
He learned how to love
Those who showed him hate
Learned how to feed those
Who stole from his plate
He regained his mind
When no one was paying attention
He regained his shine
during “The Ascension”
The Fourth Presbyterian Church of Chicago has as its mission being a light in the city, reflecting the inclusive love of God for all people. Currently that mission includes becoming a fully multicultural, antiracist congregation, working for racial equity in our church and city, and increasing the racial diversity and inclusivity in our church.
A church’s artwork reflects who we value and honor, what history we want to lift up, and what vision and identity we are claiming for who God calls us to be.
For the thousands of congregants, guests, and visitors who enter our space on
North Michigan Avenue, it is important for Fourth Church to give clear public witness that people of all races are made in the image of God and celebrated in
God’s multicultural, multiracial Beloved Community.
The Fourth Church Racial Equity Council commissioned “The Ascension” by Gerald Griffin to proclaim our vision to be a church family in whom persons of color are valued and fully engaged, whose gifts and leadership strongly shape our ministry.
Acts 1:1–11 — describing the ascension of Jesus Christ and commanding the onlookers to be his witnesses “to the ends of the earth”
Revelation 7:9 — “A great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb”
Revelation 1:15 — describing the risen Christ as having bronze-colored skin
About the Artist
A graduate of the prestigious School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Gerald Griffin has exhibited at major venues around the country such as the Studio Museum in New York, the SoHo Gallery District, the National Black Fine Arts Show in New York, the Columbus Museum of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, the DuSable Museum of African American History, Governors State University Gallery, and the Columbus School of Art and Design.
The recipient of numerous awards, Griffin has also been featured in a number of media and publications including Art News, Art Forum International, Décor Magazine, Valentine New York, Images Magazine, Homes of Color, Indigo Magazine, New York Times, Chicago Tribune, and Chicago Sun Times.