Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Gay artist links body and spirit

“Angels Consorting” by Stephen Mead Mixed media on canvas, incorporated into the DVD “Captioned Closeness
Sexuality and spirituality unite beautifully in the work of gay artist Stephen Mead of New York.

Gay angels enfold each other in glittering wings as they make love in “Angels Consorting” (see above). Another pair sleeps wrapped in each other’s arms with naked vulnerability in “Angels Sleeping Unawares”(see below).

Angels are usually presented as neutered, asexual beings. Mead delights the eye and does great service by showing that the messengers of God can be erotically alive. Both angel paintings are part of “Blue Heart Diary,” a meditative series about the universality of struggle, both global and personal.

Like much of Mead’s work, it fuses art and poetry. The actual written work is over a thousand lines long with several hundred images spanning over two decades. A video sets some of the images to music, creating a meditative experience that is both soothing and thought-provoking.

The angel paintings also appear on his DVD “Captioned Closeness” at Indieflix.com. Mead presents a different view of embodied spirituality in “Sponge Christ We Anoint You” (see below).

Taking care of a dying man becomes a sensuous, holy experience in the evocative painting. The work is a glowing embodiment of Christ’s own words, “Whatever you did for the least of these, you did for me.”

Both the anointer and the anointed become one with Christ. In the poem that accompanies the work, Mead writes:

Sponge Christ, We anoint you.
Whatever modern day soul
Your skin christens; the sponge, a host
For the innocence
Without martyrdom
Save the humanness
In being a triptych
Of vision, blood and bone.

“Sponge Christ We Anoint You” is included in Mead’s series “Washing the Body,” which is dedicated to the patients from Mead’s 15 years in the healthcare field.

Self-taught as an artist, Mead acknowledges that his art has been heavily influenced by both surrealism and expressionism. In the early 1990s his poetry began appearing in such journals as Onionhead, Bellowing Ark, and Invert. He moved Provincetown and began to concentrate more on visual work.

He returned to New York in 2000 and started seeking publication again for both his writing and his art combined. Since then, his work has appeared internationally both in galleries, in print and in cyberspace.

Mead has done films, CDs and e-books, including the award-winning “We Are More Than Our Wounds.” His current project is “Swan Songs,” a film series that superimposes live footage over his images while using his own singing voice as a soundtrack.

His most recent book is “According to the Order of Nature (We too are Cosmos Made): Art and Text for Gay Spiritual Sensuality.” published in 2016. This mixed-media series of paintings aims to reverse persecution, exploring LGBT sensuality for its spiritual roots and profound bonding. His other books include “Our Book of Common Faith,” which features his lyrical Laramie painting dedicated to Matthew Shepard.

“Angels Sleeping Unawares” by Stephen Mead Watercolor pencil on board, incorporated into the DVD “Captioned Closeness
“Sponge Christ We Anoint You” by Stephen Mead Mixed media on canvas, from the series, "Washing The Body"


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