Have you been Stamped or Fingerprinted?

Downtown Tampa is one of my favorite places to spend the day with my hubby. One sunny afternoon we found ourselves strolling through the galleries at the Tampa Museum of Art.

Modern Art isn’t really my thing so I was a little disappointed to hear that the traveling exhibit was, “Famous Artists from USF Graphicstudio.” After an hour of reading plaques and descriptors, I still had no idea what graphicstudio, lithograph, intaglio, and serigraph meant.

My husband on the other hand, apparently majored in art (while I wasn’t looking)! He eagerly gave me a whole dissertation about the various forms of printmaking. Somewhere around the history of intaglio print I found myself…







There were two intriguing images that were calling me from across the room.


"Vik" by Vik Muniz

“Vik” by Vik Muniz

The first was a portrait of a man-made completely out of office stamps. The image felt dark and grainy. The man’s features were heavy and harsh. As I looked closer the effect of the stamps gripped me. The stamps read “To Be Destroyed,” “Abandoned Project,” “Rush Medical Supplies,” “Caution,” and “Copy.”

Staring deeper into his “date stamped” eyes I began to see the truth in this image. How often do we stamp ourselves or allow others to stamp us with labels.

Are you still wearing labels from your childhood experiences or past failures? Have you been stamped with helpful or harmful labels? My fear is that all too often we continue to identify with the negative stamps people have placed on us, like “Damaged” “Abandon Project,” and “Fragile.” If you were given a basket full of stamps which ones would you use to recreate your face?

The heaviness of this portrait lingered.

Combersomely I backed away from the portrait. At the end of aisle hung the second intriguing image.

T"Fanny" by Chuck Close
“Fanny” by Chuck Close

The second portrait possessed a haziness from afar. The soft glow of the woman’s eyes drew me in. As I neared her gaze I was amazed to discover the entire image was made out of finger prints. The artist did not use pencils, chalk, markers or pens. Every detail and intricate work was made simply with pigment and a fingerprint.

This creator worked diligently to form a uniquely beautiful masterpiece.  Her features were carefully crafted. Just think our Heavenly Father, the God of this universe has taken great care to craft us. Isaiah 64:8 says “Yet, O Lord, You are our Father; we are the clay, and You our Potter, and we all are the work of Your hand.” His fingerprints are all over us!

Both of these images rolled off the canvas and imprinted my soul. I walked away asking myself, “When people look at me do they see the stamps I’ve labeled myself with or do they see the fingerprints of my creator and Lord?”

What do people see when they look at you? Fingerprints or stamps?