For many us the phrase Life imitating Art is often used an expression used to deal with a particular situation that seems so bizarre…out of the ordinary or unfortunate that it can only be described or understood through that context or prism.

But what happens when the reverse is true. Instead of life imitating art you get a piece of art that imitates life? And that piece of art could be used to help deal with some of the unfortunate situations people, particularly youth find themselves in?

On April 15th The North End organization Inner City Youth Alive (ICYA) will be raffling off a piece of art by the renowned Winnipeg Artist Christian Worthington with all proceeds going to ICYA.

For those unfamiliar with Inner City Youth Alive, it is an organization that is located in the North End of Winnipeg. ICYA offers an opportunity for some of the poorest and most underserved youth in the Province the chance to take part in relationship and mentorship programs. It also helps youth find success in both school and in their early job experiences.

The name of the piece ICYA will be raffling off is Christian Worthington’s beautiful and haunting painting called The Prodigal Son. Stimulated by Rembrandt’s painting of the same name, both paintings take their inspiration from the parable as told in the book of Luke. The story of the son returning home to his Father broke and destitute after living extravagantly and scandalously, and the father welcoming the son with open arms; the subtext being his son was lost but has been found.

Worthington is captivated by the art of the 16th and 17th century masters such as Rembrandt, Caravaggio, and Titian. He is not only an artist but also a scholar as well, who understands the methods and devices used by the masters. For Worthington they are the high standard that he holds his own creations up to.

The Light and the Shadows

Worthington uses light and shadow to help make his paintings tell a story and pop off the canvas. This is a technique he has painstakingly learned by studying the work of 16th and 17th century masters for years. As Worthington says of the style, “The use of light just has so many theological and metaphysical connotations…the contrast of opaque passages where the light hits it and bounces off… and then it hits the oil glazes where the light literally goes through the layers like stained glass windows. There is a long exposure to experience the paintings because the light is physically moving, and it’s moving at different speeds, so it causes the eye to experience all those things…shadows are deep and lush, and the crisp opaque highlights hit your eye sharp and quick, and so you have the contrast of those two elements. [light and shadow]”

The Use of Scripture as Inspiration

One of the other places Worthington gets stimulus from is Biblical scripture. As he explains, “The thing about those texts is they just have such a grand vision, and such a vision of human nature….the human condition our aspirations…who we really are. I think those texts are able to just always give you that gravity to work. I think it just sets a high standard. There is so much to deal with in those texts, and to be inspired by that and to try and create works that reflect those deep currents that are in there…there is so much there to inspire the work and to push it.”

The Prodigal Son from the Ground Up

The idea to raffle off a painting for ICYA organically grew out of conversations with friends in his inner circle that work and volunteer there. “Originally it was just going to be let’s just raffle off a painting. I think most artists would admit sometimes when they are asked to give a painting to donate to a charity; they tend to go to a painting that hasn’t sold for five years. My attitude has always been ‘if I’m going to do it I’m going to do it properly’…so I said I want to do a painting from the ground up that’s specifically for this raffle….and I challenged myself to make the best painting I have made so far. And I do believe this is the best realistic work I’ve painted to date.”

The Inner City Youth Alive Raffle is on right now and the deadline for the raffle is April 15th. All of the proceeds from the raffle will go toward this extremely worthwhile cause and the work that is being done by ICYA.

For more details visit ICYA’s website.