What images flood your mind from reading the title of this entry? Freedom? Anarchy? R.E.M.? I am exploring new artistic territory by creating an interactive piece based on a series idea “Losing My Religion”.
Hearing the series title immediately conjured up images of Michael Stipe’s bowed head and a dark room with a figure crouched in a fetal position. After jotting down those images, I returned to the title and ask myself the question, “What does losing one’s religion look like?” That’s when the answer hit me; it is a process. Letting go of something ingrained into your psyche is a process of emotional surgery. Religion is much deeper because it entails visible actions and, for some, certain vocalized beliefs. It’s much more complicated than turning a switch on an off. This revelation of letting go being a process led me to create this piece in such a way that viewing it is a process.
As the viewer, you must work your way through four stages before viewing the final image of this piece. Each stage carries with it a unique message and break another link in the chain of religious bondage. The process of taking in this creation is a process of breaking links in the chains of religious bondage, the art holding your hand and walking beside you every step of the way.
Religion – When first approaching the piece, the image represents religion. It is not indicative of any specific religion, I am representing religion in general. The piece extrudes itself from the wall where it hangs as if it is reaching out to each passer-by, craving their attention. Once a viewer’s attention is capture, they see the shadow box wall hanging is very closed. Two wooden panels are the first attributes than grasp the eye’s attention. Each made of rough OSB plywood, camouflaged to match the smooth rails that frame in the piece using the same dark wood stain. These two panels embrace a heavy curtain, protecting it from tampering hands and minds. The curtain stands stoically protecting the internal image, much like religion covers the heart of faith and conceals the mission of the church.
Stop – The panel on the bottom left is a stop sign. Below the stop sign; no left turn, no right turn, do not move back, do not move forward. Religion gridlocks souls in constant fear by setting strict rules and standards of thought and behavior.
The world is a smorgasbord of religious dogmas. If someone does feel the need to adopt religion, how do they know which one to pick? Practice each one, then pick your favorite? Set up an interview for religious recruiters and go with the most convincing pitch? One characteristic practically every religion shares is knowing for a fact they are the right one. Go here, do that, not this……..good luck.
Turning over the ‘Stop’ panel exposes the words ‘I AM THE WAY’, the starting phrase of John 14:6. Thomas, one of Jesus’s disciples known for his insecurity, was quite disturbed when Jesus foretold his impending death. Jesus stated he was going to prepare a place for his disciples, a place they already knew how to reach. Thomas reacts by asking, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” Jesus answers “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”
Follow Me –
Luke 9:23 If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me daily. In the fog of rules and directions bombarding us from every direction, Jesus clears a path by this one statement; follow me.
It is Finished –
With his dying breath on the cross, Jesus uttered a phrase that concluded his ministry (and his life) as a resident of earth; tetelestai (John 19:30). This Greek word was commonly used to close business deals and settle legal matters as a statement of completion. Translated into English, this word means “it is finished”.
As the apostles recount the events of Christ’s death, the moment Jesus breathed his last several significant events occurred. Darkness overtakes the skies from noon until three (Matthew 27:45, Mark 15:33, Luke 23:44), an earthquake struck (Matthew 27:51), tombs opened and their occupiers rose to life (Matthew 27:52), the curtain in the temple which separated the people from the Holy of Holies (Matthew 27:51, Mark 15:38, Luke 23:45). Up to this moment, only the High Priest could pass behind the curtain and converse with God on the people’s behalf. The tearing of the curtain carved the path for each individual to freely embrace God for themselves.
At this point of the piece, the viewer is free to pull back the torn curtain and expose the image behind. The focal point is the bowed head of our deceased Messiah, one final tear glistening as it slides down his lifeless nose.
Above Christ’s head, written in Greek, is ‘tetelestai’. I used gold leaf to create these letters to symbolize the value of this statement, it is finished.
You Are Free –
That’s me in the corner
That’s me in the spotlight
Losing my religion
Trying to keep up with you
And I don’t know if I can do it
Oh no I’ve said too much
I haven’t said enough
Below his chin is a phrase written specifically to help you as the viewer understand the impact tetelestai, ‘YOU ARE FREE’. These letters are dark crimson, symbolizing the blood shed for their inception. The phrase is placed below Christ’s chin to imply they are Christ-breathed and located at the bottom of the page, where your eye comes to rest after absorbing the full image.
YOU ARE FREE