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by Amanda

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My artifact further explores, through art, that which Tolkien explores in his short story, “Leaf By Niggle:” the value of human sub-creation imitating that of God’s ultimate creation, and the conflict between the rendering of detail and the possibly more useful “bigger picture.”

My attempt to explore these themes is revealed through several aspects of my painting. For one, I painted a tree—a subject which is not only one that Niggle was particularly fond of painting, but also one that symbolizes God’s own creation–nature. The tree in my painting is relatively simple and unadorned, as is the background. I glued three-dimensional leaves onto the tree branches in order to starkly accentuate them against the solid blue background of the sky—and through this contrast, illustrating the conflict between the bigger picture and the more frivolous details. Niggle was fond of painting trees, but even more fond of painting leaves. He struggled with balancing his time, wanting to delight in the small, exquisite details of the leaves rather than turn his attention to the background, or even to the tree itself.

I am drawn to Tolkien’s interest in the art of creation, and admire him for the many ways in which he took part in sub-creation. He is heralded as the “author of the century,” but he was not only an author. He was a painter, a poet, a lyricist, a philologist, a creator of intricate myths and worlds. Although my project was infinitely smaller than anything Tolkien did, it was a true joy creating something frivolous and beautiful myself.

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