In the Winter 2017 Issue of Grace as Justice, we were privileged to interview artist Aeron Brown for our spotlight section on the role of Arts and Media in the fight against human trafficking.
“My father was an artist and when I was three he passed away. He left behind paintings, sketches, all kinds of songs he wrote—he was an awesome creative—and my mom put them all away in a closet to deal with her grief. I would take a lot of his things out of her closet and hide them in my own closet. When I was in high school I started taking out pieces of his work and by cutting them up I created my own form of artwork and collage.” While Aeron’s use of collage started as a way of connecting with his father, the practice has become something of a signature in his work and Aeron continues to use an element of collage in most of his paintings to this day.
After going through a few years of inactivity with his art, Aeron started doing live paintings in church as an expression of worship. His first live painting was a divine setup that God used to reveal the power of art in restoring lives. Aeron tells the story this way:
“I asked God what I should paint because I didn’t want to do it apart from Him. I saw a hand holding a treasure chest, and there was a key opening the treasure chest. I thought that was such a lame image! I thought it was cheesy and dumb to be honest, but I really believed it was what God wanted me to paint that night.” Aeron painted the image he saw. “That night this lady came up to me afterwards that had been going through a lot of stuff. She was really broken and didn’t want to be in church that night. She had given God an ultimatum because she didn’t want to do this whole God and church thing unless He showed her He was real. When she found out a painter would be painting live, she told God that if the artist painted a treasure chest being unlocked, then she would believe. It was crazy—and so cool! She ended up giving her life back to the Lord and I gave her the painting. Man, that girl was on fire after that. I’ll never forget her story and how that all came together.”
That transformational incident left a lasting impression in Aeron’s heart about the power of art—especially art yielded to, and co-created with God—to break chains and restore broken lives. Realizing he could create with God helped unlock Aeron’s own creativity, knowing he was never doing it alone. “After the experience with that girl, it was like a drug to me. I wanted to create, and I wanted to transform people’s lives by speaking God’s words, through art, into their hearts.”
When specifically asked about the role of art in raising awareness in areas of social injustice such as human trafficking, Aeron said, “Art is like a megaphone into the ears of people who are locked up on the inside, and it wakes them up out of their complacency.” He went on to tell this story, “In prayer years ago, in the spirit, I saw this little Indian boy locked in a cell with nothing but a little pair of small shorts on. I wept uncontrollably for hours and it wrecked me. I prayed for years, ‘Lord, free the children in bondage!’
“I think God was also healing me. When I was a child I was molested, but I really believe our mess can become our message. I really believe everything that happened in my life wasn’t for nothing. There is a redeemable thing that happened through the cross that we can access if we believe and operate in that reality. When I drew the image of the little girl breaking chains, it was me accessing that realm, not just for myself, but for others. I did a whole series of women breaking chains, children breaking chains, I even did little birds. That seemed so simple, but there’s something powerful behind seeing a little bird break this gigantic chain that is so symbolic of the human experience. We feel so small; how could we ever break something that is so big and so binding? But there is a supernatural thing that happens through the cross that doesn’t take our ability—it’s His ability in us that breaks chains. “
Aeron offers this advice to other creatives who want to have lasting impact in bringing awareness to injustice through their art: “Get heaven’s perspective on those issues. So many people want to run after a movement, or a cause, or an organization and you end up with a narrow vision. You can become so encompassed in your own hurt over an issue that your voice becomes muffled. It’s still a voice, but it’s a voice filtered through pain. You have to be grounded in the love of God, otherwise you end up with an agenda. If you don’t live like a much-loved child, the cause and the call will burn you out. The ones who don’t grow weary are the ones who know who they are and why they’re doing what they’re doing.”
Aeron certainly seems to know who he is and why he is doing what he is doing. There is greater freedom—and beauty—in the world because he does.
Aeron Razz Brown is an artist and musician, who was born and raised in Southern California, where he still lives with his wife and three children. At the passing of his father at a young age, Aeron submersed himself in his father’s sketches, lyrics and creativity. Aeron wanted to connect with his father in the ways he knew how, through art and music. Aeron employs mixed media, acrylics, collages, canvas, wood, and one-of-a-kind collaged vintage collections of newspapers from the 1920’s-1960’s, scraps of book pages, book covers, sheet music, poetry, handmade custom frames, and canvases and other medium to express his unique form of art. Aeron and his wife, Michelle, own and operate The Threshold Art Gallery in Redlands, CA
*NOTE: All artwork in this post is copyrighted by Aeron Brown and has been used by permission