~ Malachi 3:10b
Copyright © Edward Riojas
I was originally going to do the obvious and plow through a complete list of pieces on which I’ve worked during the past year. Exhaustive lists like that, however, are exhausting. If such a compiliation doesn't bore you to death, it most certainly would have made me comatose. Besides, I don’t have the time to gather all that stuff.
2016 was certainly different from all previous years. I suppose I could have told you that I deftly pulled myself up by my bootstraps after getting fired from my job at The Grand Rapids Press/MLive Media Group, but that would have been mostly a lie.
I was a good boy and followed through with the company-sponsored transition training. I became a LinkedIn expert, whatever that is. I beefed up my resume and portfolio so that it impressed even me. I sent out self-promotional information to dozens of local firms, flexing my artistic and intelectual bicepts in the process. If, however, anyone asked me how many bites I got from all that effort, I would have borrowed the line from Monty Python’s Flying Circus, “Almost, nearly one.”
In spite of what didn’t happen, I became very busy. I am convinced none of it was my doing.
Countless projects materialized out of thin air, pastors contacted me out of the blue, and commissions piled up. Work became a constant. What once was a one or two year waiting list for side-jobs is now a two or three year waiting list in a full-time job. It wasn’t until someone quipped that they love my job did I realize that I, in fact, have one. Wearing jammies in the afternoon doesn’t necessarily mean one is unemployed.
And while I was forced to say goodbye to a few dear friends at the office and, in some cases, forego the farewells altogether, I have gained new acquaintances and friends. Some of those friendships mean close collaborative efforts, including a book project and vestment designs for a small firm. In other cases, individuals have gone out of their way to create work for me and have promoted me far better than I do.
Losing a job can be humbling. Laboring at my current work is even more so.
One year ago today, I was escorted out the door of a company where I had labored for nearly 31 years. To put it plainly, I was no longer wanted there. But while I now need permission to walk those office floors, a church in Austin, Texas, is interested in what I can do with their terrazzo floors. Three other churches are interested in what I can do for their walls, and an additional two – one in Cincinnati and one in Fowler, Mich., have approved commissions for their walls. I recently delivered a piece to a church in Frankenmuth, Mich., that flanks the altar of the Lord. I am currently working on a piece that will sit on another altar in Wausau, Wisc.
One piece that defines my new role and my not-so-new “Boss” will soon be found in a church in Denver. While not the largest or most grandiose of art, and while covered for all but one day of the year, a simple design of mine will grace not some “hallowed” wall of commerce or industry, but will be engraved, in stone, on the very altar of the Lord.
|“Altar top design”|
Edward Riojas. 2016. (Trinity Lutheran Church, Denver, Colorado)