Roundup: Controversial Eve painting, liturgy, protest, visualizing belief, and “Ya Hey”

“Mormon painting of a black Eve draws fire, but not for the reasons you might think” by Peggy Fletcher Stack, Salt Lake Tribune: Early this year a new painting of a seminude black Eve by Mormon artist J. Kirk Richards went on display at Writ & Vision gallery in Provo, Utah. While many Mormons have expressed how captivated and inspired they are by it, a few have insisted it’s wrong for a white man to depict a nude black woman because it conjures up collective memories of sexual brutality and enslavement. The article features some interesting perspectives by black Mormon feminists. In addition to the issue of racial representations (and I’ll just note, black figures are extremely rare in Mormon art), I’m intrigued by how Richards’s painting illustrates a distinctly Mormon view of the Fall, which differs from the orthodox Christian view—a fact he alludes to in his March 14 gallery talk.

Eve and the Fruit of the Tree of Knowledge by J. Kirk Richards
J. Kirk Richards (American, 1976–), Eve and the Fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, 2016. Oil on panel.

“A Conversation about Creativity and the Liturgical Calendar,” panel discussion presented by Brehm Center and Fuller Studio: Moderator Edwin M. Willmington, composer-in-residence at Fuller Theological Seminary, talks with an all-star trio of creatives and liturgists comprising David Gungor of The Brilliance [00:50], on authenticity in songwriting and introducing liturgical practices to the evangelical church he attended; Todd E. Johnson [10:40], on the history, purpose, and major observances of the church calendar; and Lauralee Farrer [26:18], on discovering the Canonical Hours in a New Mexico desert and later developing them into characters for a film project. Questions: [34:02] How has liturgy shaped you? [36:20] Advice for artists on how to bring the church year to bear in their art? [37:11] Have you found that lament is generally embraced or resisted? [39:41] Advice for worship leaders?

“An Art Historical Perspective on the Baton Rouge Protest Photo that Went Viral” by An Xiao Mina and Ray Drainville, Hyperallergic: During a July 10 protest following the fatal killing of Alton Sterling, Reuters photographer Jonathan Bachman captured the moment of twenty-eight-year-old Ieshia L. Evans’s arrest. As heavily armored policemen pressed in, the other protestors dropped back, but Ieshia stood assuredly in the middle of the three-lane highway, prepared to be bound. This article lauds the strength of this image of confrontation by citing compositionally and thematically similar paintings, including Briton Riviere’s Daniel in the Lion’s Den and Giotto’s The Arrest of Christ, and other works of art.

Ieshia Evans arrest photo

Ieshia considers herself a vessel of God, eager to be used by him to bring justice and peace. Here’s what she wrote on her Facebook wall the night of her release from jail:

Ieshia Evans statement

“Things Unseen: Vision, Belief, and Experience in Illuminated Manuscripts”: Running through September 25 at the Getty Center in Los Angeles, this exhibition “explores the visual challenges artists faced as they sought to render miraculous encounters with the divine, grand visions of the end of time, the intricacies of belief, and the intimate communications of prayer.” It includes a September 15 talk, “How Do We Depict Religious Experiences?”—that is, how do we convey metaphysical essence in physical form? I appreciated the Getty’s blog post this week featuring a newly acquired choir book leaf that’s part of the exhibition. Curator Bryan C. Keene writes about the difficulties of identifying the illuminator and about discovering, through an examination of the back and a search on the Cantus database, that the illumination depicts the wiping of tears from saints’ eyes, not, as previously assumed, the healing of the blind.

Christ wiping the tears from the eyes of the saved
Initial A: Christ Wiping the Tears from the Eyes of the Saved, attributed to the Master of the Antiphonary of San Giovanni Fuorcivitas, ca. 1345–50. Tempera and gold leaf on parchment, 5 1/3 × 5 1/3 in. (13.5 × 13.5 cm). The J. Paul Getty Museum, Ms. 113, recto. Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program.

“Ya Hey” song cover by The Brilliance: Written by Ezra Koenig of Vampire Weekend, “Ya Hey” is a modern-day psalm that expresses frustration with God’s seeming unresponsiveness—to being spurned and being sought, to brokenness and suffering, to sin and struggle. The title is a play on the word Yahweh, the Hebrew name for God. The chorus references the burning bush of Exodus 3: “Through the fire and through the flames / You won’t even say your name / Only ‘I am that I am.’” The Brilliance’s acoustic cover of “Ya Hey” was released last month as a music video on YouTube featuring four New York City ballet dancers. It abandons the shrill vocoder and heavy percussion of the original song in favor of a softer, purer sound. Read the lyrics and an analysis at Sound: Interrupted.

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