Samson’s New Fate

Long poses beside her masterpiece, The Triumph of Samson, that was inspired by a cancer patient, she cared for. “Everybody has something that they have to overcome in their lives. Whether it is race, income or anything that holds you back if you let it. But most of the time you can find a way to overcome.” (Staff photo by Carl Smith)


 

Golden Belt artist Christine Amory Long painted a different ending for Samson’s story; a choice that seems to mirror how she has chosen to change her own life by going from a career in nursing to a career in painting.

Although Christine Amory Long began painting at age 10, she didn’t study it seriously and make it a full-time career until much later. In fact, she was a nurse in intensive care for 37 years.

“I like to create a world that is beautiful but controlled,” Long said. “Usually there is a hidden message in my paintings and I want people to study the paintings to figure out the message. Sometimes it is obvious, sometimes it is not.”

Long grew up in Lynchburg, Va., then studied at Duke University, where she earned her BS in nursing. She has called Durham home since 1966 and was a nurse at Duke University Medical Center.

Her experience in the medical field influences how she views life and the messages that she desires to communicate through colors, lines, and shapes.

One patient inspired her masterpiece, The Triumph of Samson.

“I once took care of a young 19-year-old African American star baseball player from one of the local high schools in my intensive care unit for a few months,” Long said. “He was fighting cancer but never stopped fighting to survive. His physical appearance and fight reminded me of Samson’s struggle in the Bible to bring the temple down.

Artist Christine Long working on her latest piece of work. “I don’t want to paint the ugly stuff going on in the world we see enough of that, we need a place to let our soul and eyes rest. Something that is going to inspire you and be beautiful.” (Staff photo by Carl Smith)

The Triumph of Samson is a painting of Samson chained to a pillar, trying to break free from restraint.

Unlike the Bible where his fate consists of him dying after he brings down the pillar, in the painting, the link to the chain is broken which allows the ending to be different.

Long said that she showed the patient the finished product and told him that he was the inspiration for the painting. Though he didn’t survive, she thinks a little of his spirit lives in the painting.

“Everybody has something that they have to overcome in their lives,” Long said. “Whether it is race, income, or anything that holds you back if you let it. But most of the time you can find a way to overcome adversity. That is what gives all people commonality.”

Long’s calm spirit and soft voice have a significant impact on the people she encounters.

“She has taught me a lot about the painting techniques of the old masters and her friendship is always an encouragement to me,” said Karol Tucker, also a painter. “My artistry has been impacted by Chris mostly in the way she encourages and edifies me.”

Long said that she is into creating artwork using classical techniques so her work could have a timeless appeal and could also last for many years.

“I own several of her paintings depicting fall leaves in a creek. Every time I look at them. I admire her ability to achieve the effect that some of the leaves are partially submerged,” said Matt Tomko, another professional painter. “Her classic painting techniques serve her well in tackling her difficult subjects and she inspires me to keep creating works of a quality that will last for centuries.”

Long said that art should be an escape into a world of positivity and happiness.

“Art should be something beautiful and lift your spirits up. It should appeal to people for years to come,” Long said. “I don’t want to paint the ugly stuff going on in the world; we see enough of that in the media. I feel that we need a place to let our soul and eyes rest. Something that is going to inspire you and be beautiful.”

Long has been a full time artist for only eight years. She has gone back to painting some over the years, but says that she did not paint much during her undergraduate studies.

“I did not do a whole lot of painting at the time, but I loved to be creative. I used my creativity in gardening and interior design,” Long said. “I didn’t have the time and training to paint like I wanted to.”

Then she began studying with Frank Covino, a national artist, in the early 90s.

“He taught me how to create what I wanted to see and do as an artist on the canvass,” Long said.

Long can be found at the Golden Belt, Building 3, room 109. Golden Belt is located at 807 East Main Street, Durham.

 

Carl Smith is a junior journalism major at NCCU from Macclesfield, N.C., serving this fall as a staff writer-photographer for the Durham VOICE.