Seven Stones

An early version of Seven Stones. The presentation of this piece has changed a few times depending on my installation needs.

This was the first piece in which I explored performance as a means of object-making.

In Joshua 3 and 4, the Israelites are trying to cross the Jordan River with the Ark of the Covenant.  As they step out into the Jordan, the water is parted and they are able to cross on dry land.  God then orders the Israelites to take twelve stones, one for every tribe of Israel, and put the stones where the Israelites were to stay that night.  The stones were to act as a monument to commemorate what God had done for the Israelites there.

The Israelites had to take faithful action twice in this story. First, they had to physically step out into the Jordan River with the Ark of the Covenant and trust that God would provide a way for them to safely reach the other side. Once they reached the other side, God gave them a task to complete. This is the Israelites’ second act of faith. They had to retrieve twelve stones from the Jordan and build a monument. There are two potential reasons for this. One is that the Israelites tended to have a short memory when it came to the miracles God worked for them. The physical act of building the monument was an outward act that recognized God’s faithfulness. They put their faith into action. The second reason is that to anyone who passed by, the monument would have been a lasting physical reminder of God’s faithfulness. This story highlights the importance of physical acts of faith and how these actions can create objects. These objects create a lasting awareness of a miraculous event for an individual and/or community, even for those who did not witness the event.

When I was about six, my dad took me fishing.  He is not much of a fisherman and neither am I, so we spent all day sitting at the edge of Lake Jennings waiting for the fish that were not going to bite.  Six-year-old me wanted so badly to catch a fish that I got down on my knees and prayed a six-year-old’s prayer that God would send me a fish.  Not ten minutes later, a catfish swam up to the shallow water near us and just sat there.  I cast my line out next to it, but it did not move to bite.  I grabbed the net and reached for it, but it was too far out.  I knew the fish was for me, though, so against my dad’s wishes, I waded out into the water and grabbed the fish with my bare hands and brought it back to the shore.

Inspired by the story in Joshua and this memory, one day I sat and thought of the things God has done in my life. Seven instances stood out in my mind as moments when God undoubtedly acted in my life.  These instances are the reasons why I held onto my faith even when it would have been more convenient to let it go.  Some of the things were big things.  Some were smaller things like the fish story. Most were answered prayers.  To remember these moments, I decided to walk down to the Willamette River once a day for seven days, pick up a stone, and carry it back to my house. From this experience, I created my piece Seven Stones.

It was important for me to do something physical like walk down to the river, find a stone, and carry the stone back. Like the creation of the monument for the Israelites, this process was an active form of meditation. It was a way to ground my belief through an action. It is hard to forget or deny a physical act that leaves you with a physical object. Walking down to the river and picking up a stone paralleled the act of wading into the water as a child and grabbing the fish. A living faith does not stop at belief, but grows into a way of life. This requires consistent action and discipline. Like the Israelites, I was also left with a physical reminder of God’s actions in the stones I found. Remembering God’s works in my life brought His works into my physical world. Through this experience, God’s faithfulness became tangible for me again and for those that view this work.

Artwork Info

Type of Work Performance/sculpture, installation
Medium Stones from the banks of the Willamette River, wood, paint
Dimensions 7' x 7'

Artist Info

Gregory Gonzalez

Joined: February 9, 2010

Rights: All Rights Reserved

Appears In 1 Album

20 items

Greg Gonzalez BFA Painting Thesis Spring 2015