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Artist Peter Reitsma feels called to create art that portrays his imaginative views of what our world could look like as a result of the effects of climate change.

Peter Reitsma with his painting Wall Street depicting the effects of climate change on New York City.

Heidi Bulten

“As Christians we don’t often dare to look directly in the face of what the future can look like,” explained Reitsma, a member of Meadowvale Community Christian Reformed Church in Mississauga, Ontario.

In a series of three paintings titled Wall Street, Crash Test Superheroes, and Climate Dance, Reitsma portrays New York City under severe flood waters with a trinity figure in heroic rescue poses.

Reitsma said these images came to him as a result of his belief that climate change is caused by economic injustice, which results in the conditions that are causing the polar ice cap to melt, leading to predictions that coastal cities will be flooded.

“What I’m doing in this art is asking the question ‘Where is God in all of this?’ I’m making the point that we can’t rely on science alone to solve this problem if we believe that God is sovereign over every part of life,” Reitsma stated.

Reitsma said his desire is to put out this hope that, with God’s help, we can live together in a just society on a planet that is sustainable. He explained that the paintings are his prayer for our world; he views himself as operating on a prophetic level.

Reitsma’s paintings were recently on display at his church, where pastor Sam Cooper used them as a sermon illustration.

“I believe the gospel needs to be communicated visually and tangibly as well as verbally,” Cooper said. “This series of paintings is prophetic intercession. Months and months before [Hurricane Sandy] occurred, Peter, and likely many others, led by the Spirit, were praying, were giving voice to the cries, the suffering, the immediate future of this part of Creation. I used Peter's work to celebrate the prevenient grace of God's providential care.”

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