Though we don’t generally think about it, thirteenth-century religious art actually reflects medieval European perceptions of events that occurred in the ancient Middle East. In the Divine Beauty project I filter sacred iconography through the secular lens of today’s societal perceptions by placing found commercial fashion imagery (from magazines and other sources) in the context of painted religious narratives, producing a clash of ideas that throw both sources into question.
many Western New Yorkers, I was raised Catholic. I attended a Catholic
elementary school, went to church every day. While the indoctrination
didn’t last beyond childhood, it did instill a lifelong affinity
for the visual traditions of sacred art. But, as the recent economic meltdown
has made apparent, conspicuous global consumption has replaced western
religion today as the favored path to personal fulfillment. Fashion models
serve as the new icons for the church of materialism, gazing intensely
from billboards and magazines. Like traditional depictions of saints and
religious figures, they often evoke rapture, anguish, and implied narratives.
I’m intrigued by the fake heroic ethos, smarmy lighting, and barely
hidden sexual agendas (that tug at both male and female desires) of these
ads as they promote devotion to cologne, jeans, and underwear. My work
retains many conventions of traditional religious art, balancing historical
painting against tossed-off illustration. Homoerotic subtexts parallel
those in many historical religious works. I also reference pop culture,
mass production (as in the "quick and dirty" stenciling in many
of the backgrounds), and our current "crusade" for oil in the
middle-east. The frames (made from commercial carpenter moldings, or gold
spray-painted thrift shop frames) mimic 11th to17th century styles.