Annie Henrie was inspired to paint Balm of Gilead after the March 2011 tsunami hit Japan. As she thought about the destruction, she thought, “How does anyone ever really get over those tsunamis, those earthquakes in our lives, those huge events?”1 Her goal was to depict the absolute power of the Savior when it comes to healing each man and woman from the tsunamis in their lives.
The moment this painting captures is after the catastrophic destruction of the Second Coming, when the Savior comforts and heals his people. Henrie loves the concept of being physically close to Christ, so her image depicts a young girl in the Savior’s arm and a man worshipping at His feet. She says this image is her offering of solace to those suffering in Japan.2
The phrase “Balm of Gilead” comes from a medicinal spice used to treat wounds that grew on a bush in Gilead in Old Testament times. The prophet Jeremiah lamented, “Is there no balm in Gilead” for the house of Israel?3 Christ is painted in front of a bush that represents that medicinal balm, and his outstretched hand bearing the marks of crucifixion against the background of that bush reinforces the message that Jesus Christ is the balm of Gilead who can heal all wounds, both physical and spiritual.
The two scriptures painted at the bottom of the painting both come from the Old Testament. Isaiah 54:11 reads, “O thou afflicted, tossed with tempest and not comforted, behold, I will lay thy stones with fair colors.” 2 Kings 20:5 reads, “I have seen thy tears: behold, I will heal thee.”
Annie Henrie describes her style as “Modern Renaissance,” inspired by her time studying in Italy. She uses plaster, gold leaf, oils, and other textured materials so her paintings evoke the feeling of an Italian fresco. She strives to achieve a balance between antiquity and freshness in her art.
Further reading: “Relief Society: A Balm in Gilead”
- Jeremiah 8:22