Music: "Quiet" by This Will Destroy You
Portrayals of Jesus in art almost always present a single message of Jesus as one thing - Jesus as a unified whole. As soon as an artist decides to portray Jesus, they must make choices as to what he will look like, what his demeanor is, what he is doing, what is in the artwork with him, and so forth. These are all decisions that commit to a certain understanding of Jesus. However, Jesus is not a figure that can be pinpointed as a single unified person or idea. The figure of Jesus has varied wildly over time in terms of people's perception of him. While it is true that Jesus was a single person, historically, differing perceptions and perspectives on Jesus have had such a profound impact on history that the different ways people see Jesus have become more important than the "real" historical Jesus, a point agreed on even by those who study the historical Jesus.
The idea for this project was to take a wide array of depictions of Jesus over time, and combine them digitally using Photoshop software. This approach is a way of getting around a depiction of Jesus as a unified whole, and to present him more as a collage than a single person or idea. This art was largely inspired by Jeremy Cowart's A Portrait of Christ, in which he starts with a sketch of a Jesus figure, and then proceeds to take random images off the internet and incorporate them into the artwork using Photoshop. I started with a very old depiction of Christ Pantocrator, and proceeded to take pieces from depictions of Jesus by Bondone, Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Caravaggio, Hunt, and Dali and incorporate them, both actually and stylistically. I then turned to my own spiritual understanding of the figure of Jesus, and added pieces from a depiction of the race of Jesus reconstructed by the BBC, and depictions of Jesus in Godspell and Jesus Christ Superstar. The final step was to add symbolic images to the artwork based on my own spiritual understanding of Jesus as well as my own aesthetic sense. Thus, images of a sunrise, the moon reflected on water, the logo of a raised fist, a shepherd's staff, a heart outline, bread, and water were all added to the collage.
The result is very much a collage, and a rather messy and mildly disjointed one at that. However, I believe this is not far off my personal understanding of Jesus. He was and is so many different things to so many different people, that the more we broaden our scope the more disjointed our perception of him becomes. This is not necessarily a bad thing, however! I think that the disjointedness of the final product accurately depicts a figure extraordinarily rich in history, culture, spirituality, and understanding. Therefore, I think this artwork conveys a Jesus that is, while eclectic, also not only interesting but worth studying.
This project was inspired by an digital mashup assignment from earlier that year in my New Media class. The assigned topic was less interesting to me, but it served as a nice precursor to this assignment.
Music: "Threads" by This Will Destroy You