“Solidarity” by Richard Stott (Photo by Rebecca Litchfield)
Rainbow clothing gives a queer quality to Jesus and his mother Mary in new paintings by gay British artist and minister Richard Stott.
The two rainbow Christian images made their debut recently as part of the exhibit “Sacred Stories of the Body: Gender, Sexuality and Spirituality” in the United Kingdom. It was on display during May and June in the gallery at 35 Chapel Walk in Sheffield, England. The show featured five artists with a range of sexual identities and religious traditions.
Stott, a Methodist minister and art therapist in Sheffield, displayed a number of paintings that explore his experiences as a gay Christian. Two bold new rainbow images stand out:
* Jesus wears a rainbow loincloth as he hangs on the cross in “Solidarity.” This single powerful image expresses God’s solidarity with the suffering of LGBTQ people. Whenever anyone is abused or killed for their sexual orientation, Christ is crucified. Stott portrays the queer Christ figure in a stencil style with painterly drips, similar to the satirical street art of British graffiti artist Banksy.
* A Madonna wraps a rainbow flag around herself and the Christ child in an untitled work by Stott. The dignity and tenderness of the image suggest the holiness of LGBT families. The painting suggests the love of a mother for her queer child… or the bond between a lesbian mother and her child. When lesbians use artificial insemination to have babies without heterosexual contact, it reminds some of Mary’s miraculously queer virgin birth.
“Untitled” by Richard Stott
Stott painted the Madonna with rainbow robes in fall 2013 during a conference organized by Changing Attitude, an Anglican LGBTI group. He was invited to create art while the conference met at a Victorian church in Stockport. In a reflection about the image on his blog, Stott writes:
The church had been festooned in rainbow flags and the way the fabric curved as it hung beguiled me. They echoed the folds of cloth on a statue of the Virgin Mary with her child at the opposite side of the church to me. So I brought them together and this image emerged.
It was only at the end, when I stepped back to look at what I’d done that I began to reflect on the meaning of the picture. What started as a study of a very material and ordinary thing, the shadows in hanging fabric, became an image laden with significance…
The “Sacred Stories of the Body” show also included Stott’s “Intimacy with Christ” triptych, which grew out of his meditations on the medieval mystics. The exhibit contains more of his new work as well as his series on the Body of Christ and a fresh interpretation the angel Gabriel as an ambiguous semi-nude harbinger of sexuality / pregnancy.
Stott posted his article about the “Sacred Stories of the Body” exhibit on his blog, I Ask for Wonder. It features more images and info about the other art and artists in the show.
From left to right: Jay Gadhia, Amberlea McNaught, Ric Stott, Jade Morris, Jade Pollard-Crowe (Photo by Jeremy Godwin)
Stott sees deep connections between spirituality, creativity and LGBT identity. In a reflection titled Queer Creation, he writes:
“It seems to me that both the gay identity and the creative obsession of the artist are prophetic ways of being. Both entail a way of seeing and experiencing that fractures the world and breaks up comfortable formulations of identity, gender, relationships and theologies that some may see as blasphemous or disturbing.”
People can contact Stott to purchase stencil images and prints of his religious rainbow images.
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This post is part of the Queer Christ series by Kittredge Cherry at the Jesus in Love Blog. The series gathers together visions of the queer Christ as presented by artists, writers, theologians and others. It is also part of the Artists series by Kittredge Cherry at the Jesus in Love Blog. The series profiles artists who use lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) and queer spiritual and religious imagery. It also highlights great queer artists from history, with an emphasis on their spiritual lives.
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