Lucy Cook created this painting of Jesus wearing a crown of thorns to tell viewers Jesus loves them.

PHOTO SUPPLIED

Lucy Cook created this painting of Jesus wearing a crown of thorns to tell viewers Jesus loves them.

September 14, 2015
THANDIWE KONGUAVI
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER

Teenager Lucy Cook wasn't sure what the reaction would be when she painted the face of Jesus, wearing a crown of thorns, to be displayed at a major Sherwood Park intersection.

Lawyer John Ashton had left the final product on the four-foot square cubed installment on his commercial property entirely up to each of four artists.

He specified only two considerations: That it would be erected at the corner of Broadmoor Boulevard and Athabascan Avenue - an intersection with lots of traffic going by - and that whatever they created should be visible from a distance.

"I knew that I had a big opportunity to share something I was really passionate about and that I really believed in," said Cook, 17.

The inspiration to paint Jesus came after a failed relationship with someone who was not as deeply into their faith, she said.

"I realized the difference between someone who is on a faithful journey and someone who decides not to be," she said.

Cook best expresses her passion through painting and decided that showing the crown of thorns was how she wanted to reflect the message of God's love to others.

"I wanted to show the fact Jesus sacrificed his life for us on the cross for our sins. He did that because he loved us unconditionally," she said.

"I don't want to force my religion onto anyone. I just want them to feel that fire that I have within myself through that painting so that they could understand God's love a little bit more too."

Lucy's mother Joanne Cook was not as thrilled when she first learned her daughter would be painting Jesus.

She feared Lucy would face threats or vandalism. "I was afraid of persecution," she said while also admiring her daughter's bravery.

Lucy was unwavering.

"I just wanted to show God's love. If that meant I had to get eggs thrown on me or Jesus' face had to be coloured on, that would've shown the message even more," she said. "So God's will be done."

The young artist was admittedly a bit anxious about whether Ashton would actually put it up. Her fears were groundless. Ashton, a Catholic, was more than happy to erect the painting.

"We could've said no, but we were quite delighted that she did that," he said. "It's quite refreshing to find somebody that young who's prepared to stand up and say, 'I believe.'

"That's probably not common nowadays among teenagers but good for her."

Ashton said the reaction he's received to Lucy's painting of Jesus has been nothing but positive.

The installment, called Ashton's Folly, is 12-feet high. It also features three paintings by other artists - Ashton's granddaughter and university art student Sydney Ashton, retired art teacher Trish Haugen, and teacher Nikolette Galenza.

Inspired by an 18th century fad among British gentry to place some inscrutable structures on their property, the folly has turned into another triumph for the now-retired 80-year-old Ashton.

He has commissioned a number of sculptures and artwork in the vicinity of his property along what is known as Heritage Mile along Broadmoor Blvd.

"At the beginning, it was a bit of a lark but what it evolved into now is - I would consider it to be - one of the artistic gems of Sherwood Park," said the art benefactor

Cook, who is going into grade 12 at Archbishop Jordan High School, has done other religious art pieces. They include a dark depiction of the devil, a serene Tree of Life painting and a portrait of Joan of Arc.

While the talented teen hopes to embark on a career in art, she is also considering other options including religious studies, religious life and television reporting.