It was time to meet artist Elfred Lee as he nonchalantly picked up off the stainless luggage carousel a long black PVC tube that held a 4 x 8 ft. canvas original painting. Looking more like a bazooka than a painting, I was amazed he had gotten through airport security.
The Westvale SDA church in Syracuse, N.Y. had invited Elfred for this important weekend, which would culminate in the unveiling of The Invitation.
The audience hung on every word as Elfred recounted his rescue as a child from a WW2 Japanese prison camp where he first learned to draw. When he shared the 35mm slides of his expeditions up Mt. Ararat in search of the famed Noah’s Ark, recounting the testimonies of the Ark eyewitnesses he had interviewed, the audience showed no interest in letting Lee quit his presentation. Audience excitement grew as the time neared to finally see Noahs Ark captured on canvas.
Evening of April 18, 2004 finally arrived. The people were seated; As the black cloth dropped to the floor, the audience let out a simultaneous gasp. Unexpectedly they rose and gave their approval with a standing ovation.
When they took their seats, Elfred spoke. He pointed and described the symbolism hidden in the painting and reason for certain design elements. Lee ended his tour of the painting with this last symbol “Notice Noah’s shadow?”, Lee said. “It’s the shadow of a cross.” Continuing he said, “Noah was a carpenter, so was Christ, Noah made a way of salvation for the people, so did Christ.” Profound and they’s more…so much more.
People milled about asking question after question to Elfred. Dozens of inspired audience members purchased their copy of The Invitation and headed home. What a night.