On a winding road in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, near a stream, down the road from a peach orchard, sits a quirky, boxy building encrusted with mirror strips, bits of colored glass, and postcards sandwiched between glass. It still has beauty, like the face of an ancient, dignified neighbor, but like that old person, a little neglected, and needing repair.
Far away, off a main road in the center of Chartres, France, down a footpath, sits a ticket booth. Beyond that lays a narrow three room house, the 36 year work of one graveyard sweeper, Raymonde Isodore. It’s called La Maison Picassiette. (The house of stolen plates). What prompted this man to trowel concrete onto his home and furnishings and embed bits of found pottery, rocks, glass, and shells onto it’s surfaces? What kept him going? Walking for miles to pick up debris. Lugging all that stuff back. Meticulously carving and coloring concrete, laying bit and bit over surfaces, spilling out the house and onto the surrounding garden and courtyard. That driving force. To make order and beauty out of discarded material. To redeem them. To form something enduring. In the physical realm, this is the heart of a frugal bohemian. Making beauty with small resources. But isn’t that what Christ does to his own? He takes the foolish and broken of the world and builds them up into something enduring. Carves and places and lays bit and bit over surfaces, until he has a glorious church without spot, wrinkle or blemish. That’s truly redemptive art.
La Maison Picassiette can be seen on http://www.thejoyofshards.co.uk/picassiette/index.shtm