A rare example of an image that started out with intent, I knew what I was more or less going for while shooting this. Have you ever noticed in certain periods of art - Botticelli and the Renaissance period comes to mind, the nude figure would be depicted with a fig leaf or carefully placed piece of flowing fabric covering the genitals of figures in the work? This likely says more about the time period than the artist, in fact, I am sure of it. Funny though, without this piece of fabric in this shot, I would have to restrict and label this image as "adult" so really, how much has the world's hangup on nudity changed in five hundred years? Nevertheless, that was the idea behind this shot - approximating that visual aesthetic of a religious painting. That did leave me with a problem, however, in that I am an atheist. What can I say with a piece that uses Biblical source material as an inspiration? Quite a bit, really. I was raised Catholic, I went to church (not by choice), I was an altar boy, and I spent 11 years in the Catholic school system. With all that indoctrination, with all that immersion, I came out the other end an ardent atheist. I won't go into the why of it, but what remains of my "faith" that i never really had, are bits of memory of fantastical imagery from the Bible, and I would never turn away a good metaphor or allegory, regardless of its origins! So, this piece, which had, since I started work on it, the working title of "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" became a slightly satirical take on my journey through and out of faith. We see the garden, the left side of the piece contains a shadowy serpent, the red fabric over the loins to signify the lust and carnal desires, and to the right, a somewhat concealed crucifix in the tree, and a bible, floating upwards. Over the head of the man, the apostolic or Pentacostal tongue of fire, signifying the presence of the Holy Ghost. On his arm, a Christian symbol depicting the Holy Trinity. All this, a magic floating book and the fire of the Holy Spirit, and the man seems doubtful, disinterested, or untouched by it all. There is the "me" in the piece - despite the trappings of Faith and the years spent trying to believe, I am not of that faith, or any. It rang false, and still does. Model: Mike Ryan

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