Centerpiece of the Sistine Chapel ceiling painted by Michelangelo around 1511
Whether one believes in creation according to the Book of Genesis or not, hardly anyone find the chapters about creation riveting reading. It seems rather dry and too simplistic to be “real” to our 21st Century culture. We can hardly accept it, even as “head” knowledge.
On the other hand, beauty in the form of Michelangelo’s masterpiece of the Creation of Adam, still invites repeated contemplation from most viewers after 500+ years. The painting shows a man offering his hand toward God while reclining on a green and blue background representing the land and sea of earth. In contrast, God leans forward and forcefully reaches down to bring life to the solitary person.
As we continue to absorb the emotional meaning of the painting, we can hardly escape the fact that the shape of the cloud that God inhabits somewhat resembles a brain cut in half. Could it be that the figures surrounding Him are “in the mind of God,” although not yet present on earth?
The figure of God reaches toward His new creation with His right hand while His left arm embraces a woman who eagerly, perhaps even lovingly, gazes at Adam. It makes you think of Eve, created especially for Adam and from Adam – to be a helpmate for him, but not exactly the same as another man.
A baby sits in front of the woman, the only person in the painting who looks at the audience. God’s hand rests on his shoulder, as if He embraces man, woman, and the child who comes from their union. It’s as if Michelangelo believed God created mankind to live together in families and wants his audience to understand that.
Copyright 2017 by Kaye Fairweather