Lil Copan is a founding member of GUILDWORKS and is Senior Acquisitions Editor for Trade Books with Eerdmans Publishing Company, with a focus on faith, spirituality, literature and the arts. From her background in literature and the arts, she also is a writer for The Century’s "On Art" column. Lil's engagement in spiritual direction and contemplative practice shapes her devotional life, also informing her painting through the impulses of folk art, art brut, and the spiritual language of icons.
In many of my paintings, I take dimensional work (sculpture, people, spaces) and seek to flatten the surface, in order to explore interior dimension. In trying to be witness to another dimension, I discover both a faithfulness to dimensionality as well as a simplifying of lines. Painting is an attempt to understand the quality of something: the sound, the spirit, the witness, the silence, the motion—the gospel recorded at its most basic lines and full expression. Trying to witness one dimension through the absence of another speaks to me of the work of icons. With icons we meet a flattening that is understood as dimensional (even supra-dimensional) at the same time, where the spiritual dimension, the source of light, speaks to the spirit. The removal of moving parts, as it were, sometimes allows us to see what is within, or behind. In my work, the saints are explored, or some expression of sacrament or sacramentality, because they offer an encounter with the gospel: of meeting with God, of sharing that meeting, putting it in service to others.