In an era of endless Instagram feeds and around-the-clock photo sharing, the timing seems ripe for a beautiful, visually-centered Bible to come into being. Enter “Alabaster” ― a Kinfolk-esque reimagining of the four gospels in the New Testament.
The books seem to have fulfilled an unspoken need. In less than two weeks, a Kickstarter for the project has already surpassed the initial goal of $35,000, and the project’s creators hope to see it spread far and wide.
The masterminds of “Alabaster,” Brian Chung, 28, and Bryan Chung, 22, share a name, a passion for visual art and a deep rootedness in the Christian faith. The two met at The University of Southern California through InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, a campus ministry, and started working on “Alabaster” in May.
“Alabaster is for people who are drawn to beauty and faith in our modern culture,” Bryan told The Huffington Post. “Our hope is that not only Christians will pick up this book, but also those that are spiritually curious who have an inkling towards beauty.”
Bryan is an artist and photographer and shot many of the photos included in the four books that make up “Alabaster.”
“We want people to engage with the text and the images side by side to point towards the beauty of God,” he said.
Beauty is a theme of key importance that speaks throughout the pages of the books. Even the name, “Alabaster,” comes from a biblical passage that references beauty.
In Mark 14, a woman breaks an alabaster jar filled with expensive perfume and pours it onto Jesus’ head to anoint him before his crucifixion. Onlookers berate the woman for wasting such an expensive good, the worth of which could have been used to feed the poor. But Jesus intercedes.
“Leave her alone,” he says. “Why do you bother her? What she has done is a beautiful thing.”
Bryan and Brian illustrated the theme of beauty by featuring photographs of alabaster on the covers of each of the four books. And throughout the pages of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, text from the New Living Translation of the Bible is paired with stunning, representational images that help bring the gospels alive.
“We started with the entire Gospel of Mark, printed it page by page, and taped it onto a large wall so we could see all the pages at once,” Brian told HuffPost. “As we zoomed out and saw the entirety of the Gospel of Mark, the beauty took us aback and imagery portrayed in the scriptures, and we were simply led to pray.”
They looked for key themes and repetition, hoping to convey a visual message that would complement and not detract from the text. Bryan shot the majority of the photographs around Los Angeles, using friends as models, and said the process of bringing imagery to the scripture was a spiritual experience unto itself.
“As a visual artist, where so much of my daily experience is visual instead of verbal, to have the ability to create images based on my Christian beliefs was truly profound. It was the first time I saw my identity as an artist and my identity as a Christian so directly tied together,” he said.
Learn more about “Alabaster” in the video above and scroll down to see a sampling from the books: