Loaves and Fishes


Completed: November 4, 2003
Image size: 24″ x 36″
Edition Size: 250 Prints
Paper: Coventry Rag Vellum White GSM
Archival 100% Cotton-Rag Paper
Media: Serigraph, 54 colors printed


Artist’s Notes

For many years, I sketched and tried to work out in my imagination, how I could paint Loaves and Fishes, with its multitude of people. In addition to telling the familiar story, I wanted this image to honor native peoples in many parts of the world; those who work the land for their livelihood and have lived for generations in small communities or villages. In 1986, I completed an 18” by 24” acrylic painting on canvas with bright colors, rolling hills and high floating clouds.

Loaves and Fishes (acrylic painting, 1986)
Loaves and Fishes (acrylic painting, 1986)

The people in my painting are wearing garments with many colors and patterns, inspired by the creations of clothmakers: the weavers and the dyers of Central America, Mexico, and parts of Africa and India. The Bergsma Gallery, of Grand Rapids, Michigan sold the painting to Trinity College, Palos Heights, Illinois. The painting proved popular with various groups, and it has been used on books, hymnals, posters and bulletins, by the Presbyterian Church USA, Oregon Catholic Press, Novalis Publishing, and Orbis Books.

In early 2003, I began to consider revisiting and recreating this image as a serigraph in collaboration with Jim and Sandy Butterfield of Aurora Serigraphic Studios. In the years since the painting, I had further developed my ability to work with colors, and with complexly detailed images. I chose to make the artwork larger, 24” by 36”. The meticulous process of creating a drawing for each of the 54 stencils gave me the chance to build up the colors, patterns, and textures, and to develop the work much further than I had with the painting.

Drawing on mylar with fine technical pens, I built stippling and shaping into each stencil. I felt the work itself guided me at each step. We used new screens for each color to achieve the proper fabric tension required for the very precise color registration the large work demanded. I custom mixed the inks for each printing using oil paints and a clear varnish. The inks are alternately layered opaque and transparent; this layering creates an effect of intricate built up textures, and rich saturated colors.

Loaves and Fishes reminds us of the basic needs of all humanity.  We all share the need for food and the need to provide for our families and communities.


When I hear bread breaking I see something else; it seems almost as though God never meant us to do anything else. So beautiful a sound, the crust breaks up like manna and falls all over everything, and then we eat; bread gets inside humans.
Daniel Berrigan
Also used in the serigraph when i hear bread breaking (Corita Kent, 1965)

“Man, my friends,” said General Loewenhielm, “is frail and foolish. We have all of us been told that grace is to be found in the universe. But in our human foolishness and shortsightedness we imagine divine grace to be finite. For this reason we tremble…”

Never till now had the General stated that he trembled; he was genuinely surprised and even shocked at hearing his own voice proclaim the fact. ‘ We tremble before making our choice in life, and after having made it again tremble in fear of having chosen wrong. But the moment comes when our eyes are opened, and we see and realize that grace is infinite. Grace, my friends, demands nothing from us but that we shall await it with confidence and acknowledge it in gratitude. Grace, brothers, makes no conditions and singles out none of us in particular; grace takes us all to its bosom and proclaims general amnesty. See! That which we have chosen is given us, and that which we have refused is, also and at the same time, granted us. Aye, that which we have rejected is poured upon us abundantly. For mercy and truth have met together, and righteousness and bliss have kissed one another!’ ”
Isak Dinesen, Babette’s Feast, 1958

And about one hundred and sixty three people all talking and waving and laughing and drinking and smiling and frowning and shaking heads and opening mouths and putting forks and spoons in them and chewing and swallowing all kinds of produce and sitting back and relaxing maybe and drinking coffee and lighting cigarettes and getting up and so on and so off…”
Laurence Ferlinghetti, Pictures of the Gone World, 1955

“ It is still true today… that charity begins at home. But home today, is all the world. Man cannot progress by himself alone. All men must grow together. All men must work as one, to build the common future of mankind.
Pope Paul VI, Populorum Progressio, 1967

Real Wealth is indestructible and without practical limit. It can be neither created nor lost — and it leaves one system only to join another. Real wealth is knowing what to do with energy. Man’s intellect has the ability to tap the cosmic resources of energy and make them work for him. Technology providing more and more goods from fewer and fewer resources could guarantee that all men would survive.
Buckminster Fuller, I Seem to be a Verb,1970

What we do is very little, but it is like the little boy with a few loaves and fishes. Christ took that little and increased it. He will do the rest. What we do is so little we may seem to be constantly failing. But so did He fail. He met with the apparent failure on the Cross. But unless the seed fall into the earth and die, there is no harvest. And why must we see results? Or work is to sow. Another generation will be reaping the harvest.
Dorothy Day, 1940

More than a fear of going astray, my hope is that we will be moved by the fear of remaining shut up within structures which give us a false sense of security, within rules which make us harsh judges, within habits which make us feel safe, while at our door people are starving and Jesus does not tire of saying to us: “Give them something to eat.” [Mark 6:37]
Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel) Chapter 1, Section 49, 2013

by David Farley
Though I’m just a boy with some bread and a couple of fishes,
I’ll give them to this hungry crowd and to the one who knows my wounds and wishes.
And I pray he works a miracle for the ones who the world leaves empty,
For we who struggle and starve while the few cling tight to their plenty.
This is my prayer. This is my prayer. This is my prayer. This is my prayer. This is my prayer.

For those who work on the land, for those who plant the seed,
For those who work with their hands to bring us the food we need
Thanks be to God and blessings on all who labor.
Thanks be to God and justice for all our neighbors.
This is my prayer.

Come all who hunger and thirst and bring what you have to share,
It may seem so little at first, but soon there’ll be plenty there.
For the one who made heaven and earth, the one who brought forth the waters
Has given the fruits of the earth to all life’s sons and daughters.
Though I’m just a boy with some bread and a couple of fishes
I’ll give them to this hungry crowd and to the one who knows my wounds and wishes
This is my prayer. This is my prayer.



Additional information

Weight 3 lbs
Dimensions 36 × 7 × 7 in