A Jewish artist who admits to not knowing much about Jesus Christ seeks to create the "ultimate portrait" of the man Christians confess as Lord and Savior.
David Ilan, who has done portraits of celebrities including David Beckham and Diana Ross, is undertaking his most ambitious project ever. The drawing, which will be called The People's Portrait of Christ, will take at least one million dots to create. The artist uses a technique called Pointillism, in which he draws portraits with pen and ink on canvas using only dots.
What's unique about this project, however, is how each of the dots in The People's Portrait of Christ will represent one Christian.
"The portrait will be amazing because it will be the only image of Jesus made from millions of hand-drawn dots representing real believers," Ilan explains on the project's website, www.dotsforjesus.com.
And not only will the work potentially bring together millions of Christians, it could bring together millions of testimonies as each volunteer is asked to explain the difference Jesus has made in their life.
"The people who keep the message of Jesus alive, will now literally be creating his image one person at a time and sharing [their] message about His meaning in [their] life. Millions of people from all over the world [will be] coming together in this profound and powerful project," says Ilan.
The basic idea for the Jesus portrait project began a few years ago when Ilan wanted to use his talent to make a positive difference in the world. It was at that time that he decided to create the "Points with Purpose" project, which focused on survivors of rape and sexual abuse. For that project, each dot in his portrait represented a real survivor.
Through the "Points with Purpose" project, Ilan noticed how the name "Jesus" kept coming up in the survivors' stories. And he also noticed that believers in Jesus were further along in their recovery than those who did not mentioned Jesus.
This observation inspired him to create a portrait of Jesus, in which believers would explain the impact Jesus has had on their life.
"You have to understand that I don't really know much about Jesus," Illan admits. "After all, I am Jewish. I don't even know the difference between Christians and Catholics."
Still, the 37-year-old artist says he has a "deep respect" for the man so many across space and time have confessed as their savior and wants to have a deeper understanding of him.
"I really want to know exactly how Jesus helps people in such a powerful way, because I see firsthand with the survivors in Points with Purpose that he does," Ilan says.
The artist hopes to get one million Christians to participate in his project by midnight Christmas Eve. If successful, he will begin drawing on Christmas Day.
And if he can begin on Christmas, Illan expects to finish the portrait by Easter Sunday.
Though Ilan's pen has yet to reach the canvas for his latest project, it has already been described as the "ultimate portrait of Jesus."