First-year student Candace Bighead was often seen around campus doodling in a notebook at Bethany College, Hepburn, Sask., during the school year. But, the 200 hours the Prince Albert, Sask., woman poured onto these pages weren’t a distraction from homework – the illustrated notebook was the major assignment for her Introduction to Jesus and the Gospels course.
Each year, instructor Randy Klassen gives students in his course the option to write a research essay, or create a beautiful handwritten copy of one of the four Gospels for their final project. Bighead’s manuscript of the Gospel of John “was simply outstanding,” he says.
Bighead produced more than 80 drawings, most in pencil crayon, to illuminate the life of Christ. Some of the drawings are more abstract – “evoking the theological symbolism of John,” says Klassen – and many are embellished with thick window paint, to portray glistening surfaces like water, wine, or blood.
Bighead copied all 21 chapters in an even, calligraphic script. “My manuscript is my prayer journal,” she says. “I have prayed, reflected, bled, and cried throughout writing and creating it. Drawing the whip marks and the blood of Christ just seeped into my heart and mind.”
“For Candace, this was an amazing labour of love,” says Klassen.
Bighead’s work was acknowledged with an Award of Excellence, presented at Bethany College’s year-end graduation ceremonies, Apr. 22.
See more pages from Candace Bighead’s John and Exodus journals here.
Updated Feb. 18, 2015: photos added.