One thing that immediately becomes apparent as you look at Eva Timothy’s “The Lord Is My Light” collection is that there are hands to lift and feet to wash but very few faces. It is without a doubt an interesting creative decision—so what caused Timothy, a fine art photographer who grew up behind the Iron Curtain, to omit faces in many of her pieces? And after years of photographing more secular collections that have been displayed in places like the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, what has it meant to Timothy to share the light of Christ in her most recent collection?
The following excerpt has been edited for clarity.
Morgan Jones: One thing that I love, Eva, about the pieces that you've created is that you rarely include people's faces. And you said that the reason that you do that is because you want people to imagine if it were them—if they were the ones in the piece of art. So how did you decide to do that? Or [how did you] get the inspiration to kind of keep faces out of it?
Eva Timothy: Yes. Oh, great. I'm so glad you noticed. You're amazing, you're an artist yourself. And truly, it's something that I felt very inspired [to do], it was like revealed to me. Literally, I felt a strong impression, before I even started this whole project, that this has to be a very personal, intimate view of what the Savior did. Just like what you said, that we are one-on-one with Him, that we can just step right into this story and hold His hand, that we can be right there hugging Him, or touching His robe, or giving the fishes to Him. It's this momentum that we all see Him in our own special way. And that's the beauty of it—that He's so dear to our heart. And what I wanted to bring is this intimate view of the Savior, that intimate story that we all individually matter so much to Him, and to jump right into what He did for us and what He is doing in our lives, in our hearts, this very moment, this very day.
Morgan Jones: Eva, one thing that I honestly found myself feeling a little bit jealous [of] as I looked at your art and thought about the experience of spending that kind of time with Christ [is] . . . we read our scriptures, and we do Come, Follow Me, and we long to feel closer to Him, but few of us have the chance to devote the amount of time that you've devoted to creating these pieces to spend with Christ. So how has creating this Christ–centered art allowed you to feel like you know Christ better?
Eva Timothy: Oh, wow. You know, it's interesting. I'm always jealous of missionaries now, looking and thinking they have all this time to study the scriptures, and to just ponder, and in a good way, right? But I feel like that's [the case] with a lot of my friends that I have. I'm like, “Wow, you guys can just ponder [your] scriptures, and sit down and do this as well.” So it's interesting how we all feel that—that there's always wanting more, you want more time with the Savior. And it's just so fantastic . . . that we continue to hunger and thirst after that righteousness. . . . I do it every day. I'm like, “Oh, I wish I had more time.”
And so . . . I feel very, very humbled, truly, and very blessed that I've been able to be part of this work that Heavenly Father inspires me to do. Because it does—I mean, honestly, if I've been doing yelling or just not having a good day, I can't create. So I don't feel like I could just go and do, and so it’s been very transformational for me as well because I feel like I have to align myself. I have to be good in order to create this work. And when I fall short, I can't do much at all.
And I think that's the beauty of the gospel—we continually strive to be closer to Him and we keep striving to have Him in our lives. And creating this [art]—I seriously would shut my door and I'd be in my studio. It's been a very spiritual experience for me, one that has brought me much closer to the Savior on a different level because I am using my art now to show how much I love the Savior.
Usually, I would just use my words and who I am, right? But now as I'm creating, I'm always feeling, “I hope people feel that love that I feel right now.” When I'm in my studio, I feel it. Like my heart starts burning and beating fast and I'm like, “Oh my gosh, I love this.” I hope that other people would feel that too.
And that's why I keep creating, because I hope that people, when they look, when they stop and ponder and look at the art, that they will be brought to feel that love for the Savior. Their love for Him would be magnified. And that's what gets me creating constantly. So I pray and I hope that people will feel that strong love that the Savior has for us, and that they will feel Him in their hearts, and it would bring more light, more happiness, more joy, as they look unto Him in their own personal lives. And that's what gets me creating every single time, and I'm so excited and try to push through opposition and hard times. And I seek that. I hope this makes sense.
Morgan Jones: No, it makes complete sense. And I think going back to what you said about feeling jealous of missionaries, the best advice I was given before my mission was from my grandma who didn't serve a mission and is a convert to the Church herself. She joined the Church when she was married to my grandpa. And she said, “You will never have another chance the rest of your life where you don't have anything else demanding your time or your attention but the gospel of Jesus Christ, and the opportunity to study your scriptures and to draw closer to Him.”
And I often think back on that, and I think, “How did she know that? How did she even think to give me that advice?” And I do think any opportunity that we have, whether it's just a short season of life, whether it's a mission or a professional endeavor, any chance to use our time and our talents to come to know Christ better is such a gift.