Transvestite Jesus by Bill Burch, 2009
A transvestite Jesus and a female Jesus appear in a new series of alternative Christ photos by Colorado artist Bill Burch.
The images explore, expand and maybe even explode the gender of Jesus. They are part of an ambitious project to create a collage of 100 alternative Jesus images arranged to form a traditional Jesus portrait.
“When viewed from a distance the piece will appear to be a large (very large!) portrait of a traditional Jesus, but when viewed close up it will become the many alternative faces of Christ crucified,” Burch explains.
The model for “Transvestite Jesus” (pictured above) is not a transvestite in real life. Instead Burch found a friend who could represent a traditional Jesus, and challenged him to portray an atypical version. “I coaxed him into the bra and panties for five minutes to shoot these images, then he was back in his paint stained blue jeans and t-shirt,” Burch recalls.
The concept for “Fur Coat Jesus” (pictured below) came from the 62-year-old model herself. “She wanted to portray a feminist Jesus and picked the items of her costume accordingly,” Burch says. He describes the model as a pragmatic feminist who “enjoys stirring the pot, challenging our male dominated Biblical-oriented society.”
“Fur Coat Jesus” is disturbing on many levels because not everyone thinks of high heels and fur as feminist. Perhaps this photo makes a statement that high-heeled shoes are part of the “cross” of oppression born by women… and the animals sacrificed for women’s fashions.
So far Burch has shot Black Jesus, Skinhead Jesus, Fur Coat Jesus and Transvestite Jesus, in color and black and white. The color images, collectively titled “I and my father are one,” show Jesus looking into the light. In the black and white images, Jesus turns away from the light. Their collective title is “Why hast thou forsaken me?”
Alternative images of Christ are the subject of my book “Art That Dares: Gay Jesus, Woman Christ, and More.” These radically new Christ figures embody and empower people who are left out when Jesus is shown as a straight man. They can free the minds of everyone who sees them. I appreciate Bill Burch for inviting viewers question their assumptions about Jesus and connect with Christ in new ways.
Fur Coat Jesus by Bill Burch, 2009