When St. John’s began its capital campaign in 2017, church leaders sought a tangible way to express appreciation for the many individuals who generously contributed to the restoration, renovation and preservation. The donor recognition committee was eventually led and captivated by the work of Ron Yrabedra, a highly regarded artist who had extensive knowledge of the Bible. In 2021, Ron shared his vision for this project as a triptych, “From Eden to Gethsemane,” a stunning piece of artwork that is now hanging in St. John’s parish hall, home to the Lively Café.
In this conversation with the artist, the Rev. David C. Killeen, long-time St. John’s rector, discusses the process involved in creating the painting, and the symbolism and stories depicted in each panel.
The vibrant painting offers a reminder that the Bible begins and ends in a garden and that we are called to be in harmony with God, each other, and all creation. Our abundant life is reflected in the symbols displayed in this painting.
Additionally, the gold used throughout the painting symbolizes the presence of God and the light of knowledge. “From Eden to Gethsemane” is a gift to St. John’s Episcopal Church from Raymond & Katherine Bye. In turn, the painting is a message of peace from St. John’s to all who visit Alfriend Hall. For decades to come, parishioners and community members will enjoy learning about the symbolism contained in this beautiful piece of artwork.
About the Artist: Ron Yrabedra (1944-2022) was professor emeritus of art education from Florida A&M University, where he taught for 34 years. Ron’s career in education spanned four decades, beginning with his work with children during the Civil Rights Movement in Alabama. Eventually, this work led Yrabedra to his doctoral studies at Florida State University and a specialty of instructing teachers about children’s art. Teaching led him to become a lecturer on discipline-based art education for the Florida Institute of Art Education, sponsored by the J. Paul Getty Institute of California. Ron was the director for LeMoyne Center for the Arts from 1982–86. Since 1981. For years, he had a painting studio in Railroad Square Art District, where hundreds of his paintings, drawings, and ceramics were exhibited.