Thursday, December 11, 2008
12 days of alternative Xmas art Dec. 14-25
AltXmasArt, a groundbreaking exhibit of alternative Christmas art, will be posted online in 12 daily installments Dec. 14-25 at the Jesus in Love Blog (www.jesusinlove.blogspot.com). Nine artists combine Christmas imagery with a progressive vision of gay, lesbian, bi and trans (GLBT) rights, racial and gender justice, and a world without war, poverty or environmental destruction. “We hope that people will visit AltXmasArt daily for progressive inspiration in the 12 days leading up to Christmas,” says lesbian art historian and minister Kittredge Cherry, curator of the show. “Many people feel left out of the traditional Christmas scenes, but AltXmasArt breaks the stereotypes and shows Christ for ALL of us -- gay and straight, male and female, black and white, rich and poor.” The series offers a superb fusion of high-quality art, deep spirituality and socio-political commentary. Surprising variations on the traditional Nativity scene include black madonnas, lesbian madonnas, father-and-son scenes of Jesus and Joseph, and a multi-racial trio of female Magi. The AltXmasArt series starts Sunday, Dec. 14 and ends on Christmas Day. “Christian rhetoric is used to justify hate and discrimination these days, but AltXmasArt frees people to think differently. We hope to stimulate dialogue and consciousness of love,” Cherry says. It’s important to imagine the Christmas story in new and different ways because it empowers people to grow in their relationship with each other and with God.” The sometimes controversial art was created by a diverse group of nine artists, including openly gay or lesbian artists such as Keith Haring, Swedish photographer Elisabeth Ohlson Wallin and Becki Jayne Harrelson of Atlanta. Artists who dare to picture Jesus’ mother as a lesbian have faced censorship and even death threats, but now their liberating images can be seen and celebrated. Explicitly queer Christian imagery in AltXmasArt includes “Annunciation” by Elisabeth Ohlson Wallin, in which a gay angel gives a lesbian couple a test tube for insemination, and “Madonna, Lover and Child” by Becki Jayne Harrelson, where lesbian parents cuddle the baby Jesus. Each image in the series will be accompanied by Cherry’s seasonal reflections on its artistic, political and spiritual significance. Cherry is the author of “Art That Dares: Gay Jesus, Woman Christ, and More.” She holds degrees in journalism, art history, and religion. She served as national ecumenical officer for Metropolitan Community Churches. Artists in AltXmasArt are: Joseph Giuliani, Keith Haring, Becki Jayne Harrelson David Hewson, Robert Lentz, Armando Lopez, Janet McKenzie, William Hart McNichols, and Elisabeth Ohlson Wallin. The show includes artists working both inside and outside the church. Five of the artists are also featured in “Art That Dares,” which is filled with color images by 11 contemporary artists from the U.S. and Europe. The artists tell the stories behind their images, including censorship, and a lively introduction puts them into political and historical context, exploring issues of blasphemy and artistic freedom. The Jesus in Love Blog promotes artistic and religious freedom by supporting spirituality and the arts for GLBT people and their allies. Here is a quick guide with links to the whole series: “Annunciation” by Elisabeth Ohlson Wallin “La Anunciación (The Annuciation)” by Armando Lopez “Mother of God: Mother of the Streets” by Brother Robert Lentz “Black Madonna - Mitochondrial Eve” by David Hewson “The Holy Family” by Janet McKenzie “San José (Saint Joseph)” by Armando Lopez “Joseph and the Christ Child” by Father John Giuliani “Mary Most Holy Mother of All Nations” by Father William Hart McNichols “Pacha Mama Healing the Earth” by David Hewson “Epiphany” by Janet McKenzie “Radiant Baby” by Keith Haring “Madonna, Lover, and Son” by Becki Jayne Harrelson _______ If you like this art, you’ll also enjoy “Art That Dares: Gay Jesus, Woman Christ, and More” by Kittredge Cherry. The book is filled with color images by 11 contemporary artists. Five artists from AltXmasArt are featured in the book. The artists tell the stories behind their images and a lively introduction puts them into political and historical context, exploring issues of blasphemy and artistic freedom.