Lent, Day 32

LOOK: Tabernacle by Denise Weyhrich

Weyhrich, Denise_Tabernacle
Denise Weyhrich (American, 1956–), Tabernacle, 2010. 70,000 used communion cups, 7 silver ribbons, plexiglass base, 42 × 42 in. Sasse Museum of Art, Upland, California. Photo: Jeff LeFever. [object record]

From Easter 2008 through Yom Kippur 2009, installation artist Denise Kufus Weyhrich collected unwashed cups from weekly communions at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Orange, California, and a few neighboring churches, leaving them out to dry in her studio. Over that year and a half when they accumulated, the room was filled with the fragrance of wine, she told me.

Once she had collected 70,000 cups into stacks—seven is the number of completion or perfection in Judaism and, by extension, Christianity—she arranged the stacks on a plexiglass disc and bound them together with six silver ribbons, like a sheaf of wheat. The seventh ribbon she threaded through all the cups and up to the ceiling, which could be read as the love of God coming down and through the people, uniting them, and/or the people’s thanksgiving going up to God through this ritual act of celebrating the Eucharist.

Each one of those wine-stained cups represents a person being fed by the body and blood of Christ. Their collective presentation is such a beautiful picture of the church and of God’s ongoing bestowal of grace and forgiveness. Weyhrich named the piece Tabernacle, the place where God dwells.

Weyhrich is the codirector, with Cindi Zech Rhodes, of Seeds Fine Art Exhibits, a nonprofit that supports artists of faith by transforming galleries into sacred spaces. “Our exhibits always have a central theme which invites contemplation of ‘that something other’ than the purely physical world,” she says. They just wrapped up California Redemption Value, a solo show by assemblage artist Leslie Caldera, and are now showing work by Teri Shagoury through May. Their gallery is located inside Full Circle in Orange, California.

LISTEN: “Holy Communion” by The Brilliance, on Lent (2012)

Gracious Father, we give you praise
And thanks for this Holy Communion
The body and blood
Of your beloved Son

The body is broken
God’s love poured open
To make us new
Lord, make us new

Abba Father, we bless your name
And take part in this Holy Communion
Make us all one
To love like your Son

Refrain ×2