Over the years I’ve been collecting digital images of Christian artworks in hopes of making contact with the artists and exploring the feasibility (cost-wise and permissions-wise) of creating an online art gallery. I find these images mostly online, just from reading blog posts or utilizing search functions. Unfortunately there are many online content providers who post images without attribution, and so they are reposted, and reposted again, ad infinitum, without any information attached to them, and they circulate throughout the Web until it becomes nearly impossible to track down the image’s original source.
Whenever I come across an unattributed image that I want to use, I always do a reverse image search using Google: I just go to www.google.com/images, click the camera icon, and paste the image URL into the search bar. This function finds all the other places the image appears on the Web. Sometimes by clicking through to different websites you will find one person who may have appended a credit line to it or mentioned an artist name in the running text. Or else you may be able to find a few probable artists, as the reverse image search brings up close matches (color, style) as well.
If that fails, I try searching a description of the subject depicted, if it’s unique enough, or string together some keywords. For example (without the quote marks), “butterfly collage anointing Jesus feet” for the first one below, or “Jesus collage medieval German woodcut LAF” for the second. I view results first under the image tab, then under the Web tab, because Google image search does not recognize images that are embedded in PDFs, PowerPoints, videos, or Flash-based applications.
If the image was photographed by the person who posted it, I try to contact that person to see where they took the photo, which gives me a better idea of where to look further. If the image is from an advertisement, I try to contact the advertiser.
Still, sometimes none of these tricks works—as is the case with the five images below. So, I need your help! I know it’s a long shot, but do you know the creator of any of these artworks/illustrations, or any other information about them?
All I know about this one is that it is in the private collection of Monte and Karey Swan. It was given to them by a friend, but Karey said that the artist’s signature is illegible. It’s a beautiful visualization of the episode recorded in John 12:1-8, in which Mary, in an act of worshipful abandon, anoints Jesus’s feet with an expensive perfume, rubbing it in with her hair. It shows her being spilled out, like the ointment, spent for her Savior; the transformative impact of this intimate moment is suggested by the butterfly wing. Behind the two, scenes from Jesus’s past and his imminent future line the wall. The garden images are evocative of both Eden and Gethsemane.
There is an artist with online presence who goes by “LAF,” but she did not respond to an e-mail inquiry I sent her last September regarding this collage. Given her lack of response and the visual dissimilarity to her other work, I’m guessing that it may be by a different artist. Whoever its creator, this is such a fun image. Out of a Last Supper scene in the bottom left corner emerges an orb-like speech bubble populated by Jesus, evoking the idea that he is the Word of God. Immersed waist-deep in waves, Jesus spins his crown around on his finger like a basketball, this King of kings, as the Holy Spirit floats past him in the form of a dove. (Update 8/12/16: This collage is by Luke Flowers and is copyrighted by Focus on the Family, who commissioned it for TrueU, a DVD-based apologetics curriculum.)
I totally dig this groovy Jesus. The website where I found him, DiaryofEm.com, is now defunct, and he doesn’t live anywhere else online!
I don’t have a record of where I snagged this image from. It’s a heavily cropped image with Christ in the center as the Good Shepherd, holding a lamb and a staff. He’s flanked by a Japanese woman on one side and an Indian woman and white man on the other. I would guess that the image in full pertains to the universality of Christ, his at-homeness in various cultures around the globe.
Wesley Uniting Church in Perth did not respond to an e-mail inquiry I sent them last March regarding the image in this exhibition promo. A spirited, haloed Christ cartwheels among dandelions, cross in hand. You don’t often see Passion images so fanciful and light. Perhaps it’s a Resurrection station? The dispersive flower seeds remind me of how the Spirit was active in the Christ event and is blowing still, carrying Christ’s redemptive work to the ends of the world.
(Update 1/29/15: The artist of this last image is Cedric Baxter. Click here for more information.)