December 2022 / January 2023

Celestial Lights and Aquarium Glow

By Rachel Veal Craven

Celestial Lights was part of a study for a ceiling mural I worked in this summer. The mural was meant to be a nebula with imagined constellations across the surface like a map of mythical stars. The goal of the nebula was to portray a sense of light as well as beginning and ending and the motion and movement of that light. In Celestial Lights the varied shades and tones of blue themselves give this idea of light and dark, appearing to regress and surfacing, while the white and gold spaces actually reflect light. Like stars against a vast, dark space, the menagerie of colors mimic this glowing wonder of starlight and gases. (Celestial Lights  is 11” x 20” on canvas//acrylic)

During a trip to the Georgia Aquarium with some students several years ago, I found I was as fascinated by their wonder and the way the glowing tanks seemed to highlight that as I was by the beauty of the ocean life itself. The tanks were almost like treasures filled with brilliant fish, radiant plants, and light trickling through the water like whispering, golden scales. The silhouettes of the children leaning against the tanks seemed stronger and more fantastical in their contrasting shadows. I painted this shortly after the visit as a way to capture this moment of illuminated awe as a reminder to look at all the world around us through the light of the One whose glory shines on it. (Aquarium Glow is 11”x20” on Masonite// oil)

About the Artist

Rachel (Veal) Craven is a an artist, dancer, writer, and art professor (Lee University and UTC) in Chattanooga, Tennessee. On the local scene, you can see one of her murals (for EPB’s Heart and Soul of MLK project) on 10th and Foster and an ArtSparks box in the East Lake community. She completed a custom ceiling mural for a client over the summer and just finished a collaboration with Pure Barre Chattanooga. Whether performing, painting, or pursuing other creative adventures—she finds vision and inspiration through the Holy Spirit and all the world The Lord has made. Her faith and family, near to heart, are reflected in her artistic pursuits. She loves sharing life with her husband, Jason, spending time with her nephews, baking, and running in the Chickamauga Battlefield Park with all the deer. You can see more of her art at Immersion Gallery on Broad St. after the opening on December 9. Feel free to follow her on Instagram (@screaminvivi) and check out her website to see more of her artwork: