Issue 117 December 2008


Editor’s Note

In the recent ACAA conference aptly titled “Art, Theology and Imagination,” relevant contemporary issues were articulated in the gray lines between art and theology. Speakers and participants from the different sides of the spectrum, and from different countries too, come together to discuss theology’s relevance in the arts and how the arts can stir, evoke, move people into change with the help of an ample amount of theological background. Given that the times are changing, certain issues were pointed out, how the political landscape has changed both the arena of art and theology. For one, the church’s relevance is in question. Being an institution that majorly affected political movement in the past, and at the most extreme, controlled governments, and in its most powerful form, controlled history, the church’s relevance in our day and age is waning since the demarcation between church and state was established. The church’s power in the past is no surprise of course: Christianity was the vehicle of Western empires to conquer nations. Christianity in its very essence is alien to Asian culture and its integration into the culture of its landscape has been long and tedious. Christian iconographies show us a Caucasian God, the savior and chosen out, which obviously became a persuasive argument to conquer states. The context of this construct is what Joseph Campbell says of a hero: a being from a different land out to rid a small village of its problem, slay a beast. History tells us of course, of a violent narrative between the empires and the lands they conquer and it is far from a utopian world, it is violent and brutal until one culture submits to the other. Nowadays, the landscape of theology in Asia, as we know it, seemed more slanted in the Western way of things. We could say this Christian culture is in character Western as points of reference lead us to a “white” Christ, narratives imbued with the culture alien to Asian culture. The need for an Asian perspective in religion is urgent, and the church needs to understand the importance of its expressions, be it in the dances, music, liturgy, literature and the fine arts. In the past years, ACAA has answered the call to artists to express and contextualize Christian iconographies and narratives in an Asian context through the publication of Image Magazine. The vocation of contextualizing Western frameworks is quite tedious since the church adorned with its dogma, rules set in stone. This characteristic of the church to be dogmatic strike fear and aversion from its people, appearing as an institution imposing formalities and unnecessary rituals with a very rigid moral framework that is almost impractical. In this picture comes the need for artists. The church should recognize the value of art in theology, as it creates frames of the realities of the culture in which the church operates. These frames of narratives become expressions of the way of things and helps people make sense of a fuller understanding of their faith. By contextualizing worship, the sense of experience is heightened. Artists should realize their potential to be agents in helping theology interpret the contemporary realities and come up with insights and reflections relevant in our times. Image Magazine has featured artists from different parts of Asia in hopes of cultivating a prolific atmosphere for Christian art.

On the cover
ANGEL Federico Domiguez Gouache on Bristol Board CREATION BANNER Community project in Adelaide Paper Cut 3x4 meters

On the Back Cover




117 December 2008


CONSULTANTS Ron O’ Grady Rod Pattenden Harry Wallace Judo Poerwowidagdo MANILA OFFICE STAFF Emmanuel Garibay Michael Balili Corie Cyrene Boongaling

02 FEATURED ARTISTS 04 13 Editor’s Note Federico Dominguez Zaki Baboun

IMAGE is published four times a year and circulated free to members of the Asian Christian Art Association. IMAGE is a publication of the Asian Christian Art Association. ACAA and/or the artists hold the copyrights to all the images in this publication. To inquire about permissions to use, please email us at

FEATURED ARTICLES 06 Magnificat by RH SMith 08 Art, Theology and Imagination 10 Of Empires, Christendom and the Christian Arts by Dr. Ferdinand Ammang Anno 12 Artworks from Art, Theology and Imagination

All inquiries should be addressed to IMAGE Magazine 25-D Malambing Street; UP Village, Diliman, Quezon City 1101 Philippines Mobile Phone: +639202059244 Email:

Paintings in this Issue Yang ya Utaw si Manggob (Angel), Front Cover Yang ya Utaw si Manggob (Pamilya), 4 Yang ya Utaw si Manggob, 5 Yang ya Utaw si Manggob, 5 Yang ya Utaw si Manggob, 5 Second Adam Triptych, 6 Flight to Egypt, 13 Second Adam (detail), 14 Second Adam (detail), 15 Creation Banner, Back cover

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FEATURED ARTIST | Federico Dominguez

YANG YA UTAW SI MANGGOB (on this page) 12 x 12 in; Gouache on Bristol board (opposite page) 5 x 12 in; Gouache on Bristol board from the collection of Mike Luz


FEDERICO “BOY” DOMINGUEZ was born on June 9, 1953 in Tangkulan, Bukidnon, Philippines. He traces his roots to the natives of Siargao Island and Mandaya indigenous peoples of eastern Mindanao and the Tagalog ethnic group in Luzon. He spent his childhood in Davao City but spent his vacations in his parents’ community in Davao Oriental where he experienced some of the social events performed by his Mandaya relatives as well as several indigenous groups in Luzon. He has been involved with various governmental and non-governmental organizations and people’s organizations as a freelance artist doing posters, illustrations and layout designs on publications, mural paintings, and production and stage designs. Dominguez has staged numerous solo exhibitions, most notably the “Wa Ya Kila” and “Illustrasyon” series. In Dominguez’ works, narratives from the bible are contextualized in Filipino culture and settings. Yang ya Utaw si Manggob (When Manggob was Born) is a collection of paintings on the nativity contextualized in Filipino culture. The title is in the dialect of the Mandaya, one of the indigenous people residing in the provinces of Davao, Agusan and Surigao. The Angels are dressed as Mandaya and Bagobo of Davao del Norte and Davao City. The Wise men are represents the Kalinga from Cordillera, Matigsalog of Bukidnon and Higaonon of Bukidnon and the Agusan provinces. 5 | IMAGE


(First of two parts)

by Rachel Hostetter Smith
“GOD’S WAYS ARE NOT OUR WAYS,” the saying goes. God consistently confounds the expectations of this world inverting the wisdom of mankind as he pursues his purposes for his creation, choosing unlikely agents for equally unexpected undertakings. Moses—the tongue-tied fugitive charged with negotiating with Pharaoh to lead his people out of Egypt to the Promised Land. Gideon—from the weakest clan and the least important member of his family called to defeat the armies of Midian with a small band of men. David—the impulsive adolescent shepherd called to be a warrior although he is apparently no match for Goliath. Peter—the ill-tempered disciple designated to be the cornerstone on which the church will be built. Paul—the zealous persecutor of the followers of Jesus who is God’s chosen apostle to the Gentiles. The list goes on and on. Unqualified, unimportant, unprepared, unsavory, and ultimately unsuitable; they commonly respond like Gideon, “who am I to do this?” or try to wriggle their way out of doing what God has asked of them. Why is it that God nearly always chooses such unlikely characters to do his work? The answer lies in that most unlikely culmination of God’s plan for the salvation of mankind—the incarnation of the Christ through Mary—and perhaps more specifically in Mary’s song recorded in the book of Luke (1:46-55), the Magnificat, that announces with a prophetic voice the imminent arrival of a new age in which the present order will be overturned and replaced with a new one—God’s—which will reign supreme and for all eternity.
Creation. Incarnation. Art. God creates and calls it good. The Word becomes flesh for love of his creatures so that they might know him better and be restored to himself. The painter paints for love of his materials and to know himself and his world more fully. Because we are physical beings we come to know things through our senses. “I love paint,” says Bruce Herman. “I love the smell of it, the feel of it. I love to work with it; to see what it can do and what it can become.” The smudges, scratches and occasional fingerprint in these paintings signal this intimate involvement of the artist with his materials. Samuel Escobar has said, “the Incarnation is the greatest translation ever, and poetry [or art] is a little incarnation,” making the invisible visible. These paintings have a palpable presence, inviting us into an equally


intimate relationship with them. Achingly beautiful, they ask us to be fully present with them to contemplate being and presence through their tactile surfaces and sonorous color harmonies. As it is in the case of the woman with the precious jar of nard who anoints Jesus’ feet with a lavish, apparently gratuitous outpouring of all that she has, so the artist pours all that he has into his art as an offering and gift in order “to make paint sing.”1 Magnificat is both proclamation and acclamation, inviting us to celebrate the unbearable goodness of being and the “radical physicality,” as Herman puts it, of the gospel. There is much to be learned from the example of Mary and her participation in the Incarnation. The two triptychs that anchor this exhibit, Second Adam and Miriam: Virgin Mother represent the dual paths of discipleship that Mary exemplifies: the via activa, where Mary is active participant called to be a key instrument in God’s most critical work and the via contemplativa, where Mary is reflective witness pondering the implications of God’s audacious plan. Just as he has so often throughout history, God chooses an unlikely, decidedly unimportant, and apparently highly unsuitable agent to be the means through which he will come into the world a helpless infant. What could be more unexpected? What could be more uncanny? And yet what could be more consistent for a God who will overturn the powers and principalities that rule in this world? Just as God chose to use a small band of undistinguished men led by Gideon to defeat the armies of Midian, so God chose a poor young teenage girl to be the vessel through which he would defeat the forces of death. And as God explains to Gideon, in this way it is God’s glory that will be made known because there can be no doubt about who has brought about that victory. Influence and InSpIRatIon Herman credits a conversation ongoing for over twenty years with trusted friend and longtime colleague John Skillen and their shared enthusiasm for and dialogue with the Italian Renaissance tradition with prompting him to undertake the subject of Mary in his painting some five years ago. But equally significant to this work is the influence of the three most significant women in his life—his wife Meg and daughter Sarah, who served as models for some of the paintings, and his mother. In addition, conversations with close friend, painter Tanja Butler, who has herself recently undertaken a series of paintings on Mary, have informed his understanding

of both the artistic and theological heritage of Mary and have also provided insight into his own work and artistic process. Strong women, every one, it is they who have inspired much of the thought that lies behind this body of work by helping him to recognize the distinct experience of women in cultures that do not often honor them and the particular sensibilities they bring to negotiating the joys and challenges of life with grace and integrity. The distinctive dignity and repose in the midst of suffering that Herman attributes to Mary in his paintings derives from his observation of these women. With this understanding, the paintings of woman at significant stages of life provide an indispensable counterpoint to the themes of the triptychs, bearing testimony to the mundane yet profound truth that we often get our first glimpse of God when we really look at each other.

“The shifting planes of luminous blue and gold blur the distinction between the physical and transcendent as architectural structures transform into veils of color and the impervious gilded surfaces of the divine realm.”
In his essay “Tradition and the Individual Talent”, T. S. Eliot (1919) challenges his reader to understand that no artist stands alone but must be seen in relation to those who have gone before. We stand on the shoulders of “the dead poets”, able to see perhaps a little bit farther only because of what they achieved before us. Herman’s work embodies just this kind of complex interplay between tradition and innovation. Drawing from the deep well of the Christian tradition, he casts that imagery into our present moment by melding it with contemporary modes of expression where the abstraction of surface complexity carries just as much meaning and weight as the representational content. The patchwork of gold and silver leaf, tarnished and worn, with vibrant color passages scratched, abraded, over-painted, and sanded smooth, these beautiful yet marred surfaces are the visible signs of divine presence in a world that is broken and tainted by the Fall. The aesthetic of fragmentation seen here is the painterly equivalent of Herman’s conception of the body broken—a visible manifestation of all creation’s groaning, the need for its redemption, and redemption’s

tremendous cost. A devastating house fire that consumed his family’s goods and most of his paintings in September of 1997 set his work on this new trajectory that led to the series The Body Broken (2003) and the group exhibition A Broken Beauty (2006) which explored along with artists like Erica Grimm-Vance, Tim Lowly, and Mary McCleary the paradoxical relationship between beauty and brokenness which is the true state of human beings and this world. Herman imbues his figures with an arresting monumental importance, a quality also found in the work of Bay Area painter James Weeks, a mentor (along with Philip Guston) in graduate school at Boston University School for the Arts, who first noted a striking correspondence with Richard Diebenkorn’s painting in the veils of color that provide an architectonic structure to the work. Although a connection may be seen between the lush color and enticing abstract surfaces of Guston’s early paintings, it is the social conscience that takes center stage in Guston’s later figurative paintings that relate to the probing of the human condition that is the essence of Herman’s work. Palimpsests—faint traces of things that have been erased, reworked, or overdrawn-constitute yet another distinctive component of Herman’s visual language. Intrigued by the symbolic implications of the palimpsests so commonly found in Italian art and architecture that bear witness to the ways in which an image or structure has been revised, replaced, or renovated in some way, Herman introduces these ghostly images to indicate the multi-layered and multi-faceted nature of reality and to remind us of our incapacity to apprehend it fully. But just as it is impossible to grasp the complex unity of God’s redemptive work in a strictly linear fashion with its overlays of prophesy and fulfillment, hope and memory, it is impossible to unpack the iconographical intricacies and theological depth of Herman’s paintings by dealing with the paintings as discrete entities, one at a time. They are best understood in dialogue with one another. Like the sacra conversazione, the Italian Renaissance altarpiece form that inspired them, they invite us to engage our theological history and the implications it has not only for the Church but perhaps more importantly, for ourselves. Recognizing this, the paintings of woman at various stages of life make manifest the import and intent of the redemptive work depicted in the triptychs, reminding us that it is in every woman—and every man— that God’s work is to be made complete. (continued on page 14) 7 | IMAGE


art, theology and Imagination
28-30 October 2008 Cardinal Sin Center, Loyola School of Theology Ateneo de Manila University, Quezon City, Philippines
The recently concluded Asian Christian Art Association (ACAA) sponsored conference entitled “Art, Theology and Imagination”, held at the Loyola School of Theology left artists and theologians like with insights and reflections. ACAA, together with Tutok: Karapatan, an group of artists advocating human rights, and the Loyola School of Theology, devised the conference as an opportunity for artists and theologians to have a dialogue and in effect create discussions and disturbances from both parties. The conference aims to construct an understanding of both parties on how each can help in honing their craft. It is well known that the world of art is vastly populated by religious images, made strange by the artist’s imagination: depositions, pieta, Madonna and child, Christ Ascending, even narratives from the Bible survive the artist’s rendition of the incredulity of Thomas, or the head of John the Baptist on a plate. Theologians on the other hand, feel the need to add an artistic dimension in expressing faith, either in songs, dances, liturgies, and most especially, an articulateness to contextualize religion. In “Art, Theology and Imagination,” both parties were given the opportunity to converse with each other. Participants came from different parts of the country and from different religious sectors and artist organizations. The conference started with the lecture on church history by Dr. Ferdinand Anno from the Union Theological Seminary (Philippines), a way creating a chronological framework of the church as institution and the fundamental difference between Christianity and Christendom. Dr. Anna Skagersten, from the Church of Sweden, talked on bridging theology to art and art to theology to create a visual map of culture to wrap up the first day of the workshop. She also stress on juxtaposition of opposites– i.e. their necessary coexsistence. The second day of the workshop started with Dr. Rod Pattenden’s lecture on the many faces of Christ in different cultures. His lecture started with a dance interpretation of the many struggles of humanity, issues from the center and voices from the margins and how each paints a portrait of Christ. Dr. Alice Guillermo’s lecture on the religion, society, art, ideologies and politics is an interesting study of some paintings and murals from different artist organizations depicting social realism. The participants were divided into groups afterwards and were given blank canvases. Groups consist of artists and theologians, were encouraged to interact with each other and come up with an artwork that exemplifies the face of Christ in this time, place and age. The last day of the conference started with Fr. Rene Javellana’s lecture on Christianity, culture and faith. Fr. Javellana talked about the indistinct and sometimes interchangeable definitions of culture and faith, with an historical approach starting from the 1st century up to the post-post-modern times. The workshop concluded with the presentation of the artworks created by the group collaborations, each explaining the logos of their creation and how the workshop influenced their imaginings.


of empires, christendom and the christian arts:
by Dr. Ferdinand Anno


THIS SHORT ESSAY was prepared to outline or frame a discussion on the historical and liturgical contexts of Christian arts as it evolved through the centuries. It does not however go into the minute details of history, of liturgy and the arts in Western Christianity, or in contemporary global Christianity. It simply touches on how the logos and ethos of Christendom intersect with the Christian theological imagination and artistic objectivations— the relationship between the rise and fall of empires and the bondage and redemption of the Christian Liturgy and the Arts, i.e., Christian Arts. To begin with, I want to point to a survey made in relation to the ways in which Christianity and the arts intersect, and in particular, where the arts inform Christianity (Arts 11:2, 1999). Arts and worship intersects in several ways: firstly, in worship, where the arts serve as the primary medium of communication, or better yet, as the media that connect the human to the sacred; secondly, in the way the arts and religion are one in raising questions or issues on the meaning and purpose of life; thirdly, in the arts serving as texts mirroring the nature of historical and contemporary faith; fourthly, in the prophetic role the arts play particularly in the process of conscientization and, more directly, in its capacity to speak prophetically to us in our time; and fifthly – in the sacramental potential of the arts – to become a means through which the holy is experienced and comprehended albeit partially as in a dim mirror. The above survey, indeed, speak of the common ground where the arts and Christianity or religion meet – of the common ground where the sacred and religious experience are objectified and the profane and corporeal experience transfigured, each one animating the other. Asian Christian Arts locate itself in these intersections IMAGE | 10 cHRIStendoM and tHe cHRIStIan aRtS. This survey of where arts and Christianity intersect indeed gives us a very good way of describing what Christian Arts is about. But what is suggested in our discussion of Christendom in the history of Christian arts is a qualifier, a historical qualifier. That Christianity is not as neat an historical entity and a movement. Christianity, in most part of its history, especially in its institutional form, was part of empires and empire building. And, in newer forms, this deep attachment to imperial politics remains – to this day, in some neo-Christendom form! So that when we talk about the Christian in Christian arts we also need to talk about the institutional expression of Christianity: the church and Christendom. The above survey is mainly on how the arts are informing Christianity. But how is Christianity in its Christendom form informing the arts? Our clue to this relationship or interfacing of Christianity and the arts is the liturgy. As already cited above, we need to locate Christian arts in its liturgical context. But before going into that, let me start with an exchange I had with Anna, a performing artist-friend. My good friend Anna was saying Christendom is a Swedish word suggesting ‘knowledge of Christianity,’ and which further leads us into the thought of Christianity as key to knowledge of everything, of universal truths, so that Christianity becomes, in effect, the ruling idea! Citing this Swedish etymological understanding then connects us to the vocation of Christian arts for a good number of generations, i.e. as a cultural partisan for imperial interests. cHRIStendoM and tHe ReSacRalIzatIon of tHe eMpIRe. Christendom was historically the context of the exultation of Christian arts. Christendom can be defined i n many ways. Historically, it was a political and cultural phenomenon that started initially with the toleration of Christianity by Constantine from CE 313. Sometime in CE 375, Christendom took an institutional shape when it was adopted as the quasi-official religion of the empire. (It has its peak during the reign of Charlemagne and continues to manifest itself in many forms and embodiments in the present). There are many historical nuances in the development of Christendom that were related to the politics of competing

centers of Christianity (Constantinople and Byzantium) and their corresponding historical landscapes. However, I would not venture into the details of the history of European Christianity. It would suffice for our purposes this morning to define Christendom in relation to Christian imagination, theology and the arts. Historically, it refers to the ‘Christianization of public space (M. Stringer),’ and of the popular consciousness and imagination. The history of Christianity as Christendom is a history of centralization, and consequentially, of marginalization and exclusion. It is a hegemonic process of empire-building aimed at maintaining a ‘center’s’ control over a subaltern marginal majority. In this process of hegemonization where’ societies’ discourses of consent‘ are controlled and regulated by the dominant discourse, the ruling powers also establish and consolidate themselves in positions of authority and power. The theological debates during the formative years of the empire church especially centering on Christology, for example, resulted to the tragic suppression if not persecution of those who challenged the center and its discourse. The consolidation of the center through the silencing of dissenting theological voices effectively established orthodox Christianity and laid down the institutional base of what would be the cultural, spiritual and political colonization of many societies from the centuries of Roman imperial rule to the most recent wave of proselytizing evangelization. In this process of hegemonization the liturgy plays an ideological role. In all its static (textualization, visualization) and dynamic (performance) objectivations worship became an important instrument in the institutionalization if not sacralization of the center. This was due in part to the fact that, in the Christian world, the period from the seventh to the ninth centuries was not so much noted for its literacy. Much of the popular media that were available to people outside of this period were remotely accessible if not outrightly banned by the empire church. Public worship and popular devotion became the primary formators of Christian culture, spirituality and discourse. The control of the liturgy thus was crucial to the powers that be. Through the liturgical rite [and Christian arts], t he empire found its most potent means of self-communication and selfrationalization. In and through the liturgies consenting to and helping build hegemonic discourse Christendom established itself – to provide the empire its most dependable, lasting religio-cultural and cultic base.

In the contemporary world, Christendom has taken a new form in the alliance of Church interests with contemporary empire-building. In this contemporary neoChristendom church, the liturgy maintains an ambiguous (a liturgy that is ‘of,’ ‘above,’ and ‘against’ the dominant secular culture [to use H. Richard Niebuhr’s typologies] at the same time) yet ultimately consenting, collaborative and ideological stance vis-avis the establishment. As in Christendom, the art of contemporary establishment Christianity serves as the aesthetic rationalization and sacralization of the imperial structures of church and society. fRoM Kristo reylogy to KRIStology: fRoM cHRISt tHe KIng to tHe dISSIdent KRISto. Emmanuel Garibay’s christo-graphy in his Kristology, i.e., the concept of progressive incarnation suggests a post-Christendom route in the Christian arts. Christology in post-Christendom arts is beginning to take multiple incarnations and objectivations. No longer is Christology solely subscribing to imperial images and designs. PostChristendom arts have bracketed off the Christological representations of the empire to encounter the Christ in the margins of contemporary empire-building. The externalization of this encounter, aesthetic wise, has now been objectified in the image of a subaltern dissident Christ. This objectivation of post Christendom arts is now providing and establishing an iconic center for mass dissent, where the masses are able to construct and evolve a new mythography for their emancipation. This process is most evident in popular resistance arts like in protest paraliturgies. Christian resistance arts, especially in its liturgical and religious context outsize and outperform the canvass and the stage to serve as a theographical and theological impetus for mass emancipatory politics. Christian arts and their larger cultic encasement owe their efficacy to their capability to visually, aniconially and physically mediate and communicate divine presence and message – speaking prophetically in our time, as the survey above puts it. The image of the dissident Christ in particular sets into motion dissident energies to subvert the social, economic, cultural and religious structures that maintains imperial establishment fRoM cHRIStendoM aRtS to tHeologIeS of StRuggle Post-Christendom arts, especially those that go astray into the dissident stream are, beyond the artists’ wildest intents and

expectations, providing aesthetic resources in the construction and articulation of theologies of liberation and struggle. If the icons of the ancient and medieval Christianty were able to nourish a spirituality of reaction, then a parallel role for contemporary dissident Kristological iconography can, in as powerful ways, serve as the lifeblood of revolution towards social reversal. The cult and arts of Christendom had, for a long time, effectively kept the powerful in their places and the poor in their wretchedness. Through the same medium can the social cancer of radical disconnectedness be corrected – from the radical altering of mass consciousness [-- the re-Christianization of the public imagination] to mass upheavals. Here, the Kristology and the popular cult of colonial Filipinos come to mind, when they effectively nourished the revolutionary spirituality of the illiterate mass to launch one of the first anti-colonial upheavals in Asia. Theologies of Struggle – these are where dissident post-Christendom Christian arts may lead to. They witness to the continuing relevance of the arts and religion in the reordering of the cosmos, in the construction of a new world and the birthing of new life. It is this point of intersection between the arts and Christianity or religion in general that, finally, will bring the arts into the home and womb of real culture.

Dr. Ferdinand A. Anno is a Professor of Liturgy, Theology and the Arts at the Union Theological Seminary at Dasmarinas, Cavite, Philippines. This paper was presented at the ACAA conference, “Art, Theology and Imaginatiomn,” on 28 October 2008.

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“Art, Theology and Imagination”
(Clockwise from left) the cross is a bridge between god and Humanity. Jesus, who is both man and god, has become the bridge. god reaches to humanity through Jesus christ. Humanity reached god through Jesus christ. by Pablo santos, raul rodriguez, Martin Licup and Christian Martin yanez Knowing and understanding christ is a continuous dialogue. there is openness to what’s next. by Philip yohan, Alfredo Liongoren, ivan roxas and emannuel Garibay everyone can be christ as exemplified by our actions. by raoul ignacio rodriguez, Don Djerassi Dalmacio, Nilo sayson, Maximo santiago and sr. Leodie riza remedio It is hope(aSa) that bridges the gap between the search and the questions (aSan) and finding the answer(naSa). by tinnah Dela rosa, Jess, Wesley Valenzuela, Mark Justiniani, CJ tanedo christ is in us. We are a reflection of who christ is. our identity as christ and our perception of christ is also shaped by the culture and the society. by Jocelyn Calubayan, Buen Calubayan, Crisanto De Leon, Kirby roxas

Artworks from the participants of

IMAGE 12 IMAGE | |12



The Palestenian artist, Zaki Baboun was on born July 30, 1962, and lives and work in the town of his birth: Betlehem. Zaki Baboun was only five months old when his father died, living the mother with three sons. From primary school, Zaki Baboun went on to secondary school, but by his fifteenth birthday he had made up his mind to work in a garage and become a motor mechanic, like his father. But things turned out differently. What he like doing best was sketching and painting. He made carvings for the tourist industry, but later discovered the pleasure of applying his painting to the woodwork . From 1994, Zaki has been concentrating on painting with oils. He was born into a Christian family. Questioned about the significance of his faith, Zaki replied “On Sundays, I was taken by my mother to the church. I heard lots of stories there. Those about Jesus were the ones that enthralled me the most. Later on, in 1991, I was baptized in the Jordan, just as He was. I am not all that familiar with the Bible, but I have a firm belief in God who wants me to listen to what His son has to say to me at this present time. God... I think this name means much for Jews, Muslims and Christians. I could well imagine that God just wants us to respect one another as faithful people.”

Editor’s Note: At present, correspondence with the artist has been difficult due to the Gaza-Israel conflict. The conflict, as of this writing, has tolled 898 lives and 3, 695 injured since the start of fighting last 27 December 2007.

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MotHeR of god, fIRSt dIScIple Until recently most Protestants had seldom contemplated the significance of Mary except as a foil for Jesus in the Christmas story or as a mother grieving for her son beneath the cross on Easter. This new attention to Mary has had profound effects within the church because, when one looks at Mary, one is confronted not only with Mary but with Christ and with one’s self. Virgin, mother, servant, prophet, witness, disciple—she is all of these but it is perhaps this last, disciple, that is the most significant to consider. Recognizing Mary as “the first Christian” casts into sharp relief some important truths that may easily be overlooked. Mary is the first to believe that the child she would bear was indeed God’s son—the Christ who would restore mankind to himself. She bears witness to that truth by going to her cousin Elizabeth, perseveres in that faith in spite of the collapse of all expectations of what his coming would mean to her and to the oppressed people of Israel, stands with him at the cross, and bears witness to the empty tomb. That belief both carried her through as she fulfilled her ominous calling to be the theotokos— the mother of God or God-Bearer, as it is more accurately translated—and cost her dearly as she was required to embrace the suffering that would necessarily entail. The dispute over the designation of Mary as theotokos (God-Bearer) or christotokos (Christ-Bearer) in the early church was fundamentally a debate regarding the doctrine of the Incarnation and the true nature of Jesus Christ. In the fifth century, the designation christokos, which may sound perfectly acceptable to our ears (after all, how can we quarrel with the designation of Mary as the mother of Christ?), accounted for only one of those natures—the divine— not both. With this in view, the phrase “born of a woman” invites reflection on the very particularity of the Incarnation—a particular woman who bore a particular man, Jesus Christ, who was no less than the Word of God. Herman’s depiction of Mary overshadowed by the Holy Spirit in the central panel of the triptych Miriam:Virgin Mother brings the incomprehensibility of this convergence into sharp relief. Who could imagine that the Almighty, Omniscient, Omnipresent God would deign to limit himself in such as way? But in view of the theology of creation/re-creation where God creates and Jesus Christ re-creates, Mary’s “yes” to God takes on profound significance and makes perfect sense.

MagnIfIcat—a pRopHetIc call The Magnificat represents Mary’s resounding assent to Gabriel’s astonishing announcement and God’s audacious plan. Echoing the words and prophetic voice found in both the Song of Deborah (Judges 5:2-21) and the Song of Hannah ( I Samuel 2:1-10), Mary celebrates the impending fulfillment of the redemptive history foreshadowed in the Old Testament with words declare it is already accomplished in God’s righteous sovereignty. This fulfillment takes center stage in the triptych Second Adam where kronos, historical time, collapses into kairos, God’s time, where the relationship between all things is known. The shifting planes of luminous blue and gold blur the distinction

the barrier between earth and heaven. The crisscrossing lines behind Christ recall the two thieves who represent the metaphorical scaffolding of mankind’s sinful nature that required the raising of the Cross. At the top of the Cross, a spiraling form that could be serpent or vine, recalls Moses lifting up the golden serpent to cure the plague of serpents unleashed upon the Israelites for t heir disobedience, asserting that Christ is the final and singular antidote that restores all creation and mankind to himself, thrust upward by the will of God against the forces of death and destruction. This represents the radical inversion of the Gospel where death defeats death to bring eternal life to those who do not deserve it through the substitutionary sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Christ’s gaze, cast down in the direction of both Adam and Eve, and Christ’s feet, touching Adam’s head transcend the barriers of time to link these events inextricably. The encrusted faces and flesh of so many of the human figures in both triptychs invite our touch as one person to another and remind us that we are all the sons and daughters of Adam— which is from the Hebrew adama meaning “earth”—and thus limited and otherwise destined to be returned to it when we die, as “dust to dust” and “ashes to ashes”. The scale and somatic persuasiveness of these figures requires our participation with them blurring the boundaries of image and reality so that we too become actors in this story. To the right of Adam we find Eve, a broken weeping suppliant cast in shadow blindly reaching out to touch the vine which is her only hope, her trailing hand marking the legacy of sin that has passed from generation to generation. Her prostrate figure situated over gilded ground recall the goodness of the created order, and God’s presence with her despite her despairing state as one who is lost but not abandoned. Masaccio’s Expulsion from the Garden depicted on a medallion on the base of the column between Adam and Eve indicates the rift their disobedience created with God and between one another. Behind her stands Mary, the second Eve, a suppliant at the cross, turned inward in prayer to contemplate the grievous cost of their—and our—redemption. Pale transparent streaks of mauve that frame her carry depths of melancholy and confusion as she traverses the realms of memory, hope, and grief. Yet a golden light radiating behind her supports and shores her up, holding her firm with the tangible imprint of a hand reaching out touching her arm as if to assure her of God’s presence even, perhaps especially, in this. Flanked by the shadowy palimpsests of the earthly order that is fading away, Mary is

between the physical and transcendent as architectural structures transform into veils of color and the impervious gilded surfaces of the divine realm. Beneath the Cross, the first Adam, naked and bent by the toil that is his lot grasps a vine that leads upward to the crucified Christ, the source of all life. The scored and fractured surfaces of the ground that surrounds him indicate the challenge of his circumstances that threaten to engulf him. The vine, transfigured gold above, links to Christ piercing the veil that exists between the City of God above and the City of Man below leaving a crumbling edifice that signals the end of the powers and the principalities that have ruled this place since our first parents’ original sin. The patches of blue breaking through the frame at the top and the chinks in the gilded surface that reveal the underlay of ruddy clay boll indicate the breakdown of

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not only a mother grieving for her son, but also stands as the Church pondering—and treasuring—all things “past, present, and future”, in Herman’s words, that converge in this one moment. This Mary, standing alongside Christ at the Cross, represents the substitutionary suffering that is at the heart of the Gospel, for just as Christ willingly chose to give up his life so that we might live, so Mary willingly undertook the suffering that assenting to God’s call would demand. But we can’t stop there because these events also have implications for the Church and for each one of us, as Beverly Roberts Gaventa explains in her essay “Standing Near the Cross”, “to consider Mary in light of the cross summons, first, images of the mater dolorosa, the sheer fact of Mary’s grief and the grief of all who acknowledge the relentlessness of the human rejection of Mary’s child. Yet more is at stake than shared grief. Mary’s association with the cross recalls for Christians the scandal at the heart of the gospel: that God’s actions on our behalf meet ever and again with misunderstanding and rejection. In Mary’s “standing near the cross” (John 19:25) Christians may find themselves alongside the suffering world and its vulnerable God.”2 Mary’s prophetic response to Elizabeth’s recognition of the messianic identity of the child she carries announces the coming of a new age when the Lord will bring “down rulers from their thrones” and fill “the hungry with good things” sending “the rich away empty.” The status inversion proclaimed by the Magnificat where the lowly are exalted and the mighty are brought down designates her as advocate of the poor and downtrodden, a calling widely recognized beyond feminist and liberation theology as central to the work of the Church. In the panel to the left of the Crucifixion, Mary is depicted at the wedding at Cana meditating in hortus conclusus (the enclosed garden that refers to her virgin purity as the vessel for the Incarnation) adumbrating the miracle where water will be turned into wine and her son’s eventual death. The overlapping of the three scenes in the triptych and the translucent veils of paint offering faint glimpses of forms and colors just beneath the surface coincide with the penetrable nature of time and memory, suggesting a God’s-eye view of the outworking of mankind’s salvation that was anticipated from the beginning. A horizontal line that passes from Adam’s hand grasping the vine to Mary’s breast establishes a connection between cause and effect. Gazing at the water pots, she contemplates the dilemma of the good wine that has

run out before it is time. Encompassed by a golden light she stands as a witness, wondering and waiting, for the fulfillment of God’s promise, looking forward and back, pondering the meaning of Jesus’ quizzical reply to her request for help, that “[his] time ha[d] not yet come.” The Eucharistic implications are clear where the wine foreshadows Christ’s saving blood. Linking time from the anticipation to the fulfillment of that promise, the two Marys in the panels flanking the Cross are mirror images of one another differentiated only by the color of the headdresses and the texture of their skin. Yet the visible weariness and signs of aging in Mary at the Cross reveal a private suffering and the personal cost of following God’s call. Just as in the Italian Renaissance,

Job, Abraham, David, and so many others who came before her, she struggles and misunderstands, yet persists in her faith in spite of those very limitations. She provides a model for the life of faith, it’s true, but of a woman who is truly one of us. Lutheran theologian Lois Malcolm writes in an essay titled “What Mary Has to Say about God’s Bare Goodness” that reflects on Luther’s Commentary on the Magnificat that, “the lesson that Mary…teach[es] is that God’s bare goodness, even when hidden or unfelt, gives the equanimity not only to defend the right or the truth…but to face whatever may come with an ‘even mind’.” Mary’s quiet strength, so evident in these images, as she wonders and waits for the unfolding of God’s plan at Cana and witnesses its culmination at Calvary can be no better assurance of God’s faithfulness in all things. (TO BE CONTINUED IN IMAGE 118)
Notes: 1 From M. B. Goffstein, An Artist (Harper & Row, 1980). 2 Blessed One: Protestant Perspectives on Mary. Beverly Roberts Gaventa & Cynthia L. Rigby, editors. Westminster John Knox Press, 2002. (page 56)

these figures are engaged in a holy conversation with one another, collapsing time to see things more whole from a divine perspective. Contrary to the Modernist emphasis on expression which turns inward to focus on the self, this art aspires to look outward inviting communication so that we may commune or be truly present with one another and with God. Contrary to common perceptions, most of the Reformers held Mary in high regard. Many accepted the designation of Mary as theotokos, understanding its christological significance. Both Luther and Calvin presented her as an exemplar of obedience and faith who should appropriately be honored and emulated, albeit avoiding exalted titles or formal ceremony. It is in fact Mary’s very humanness, so readily seen in these paintings, that commends her as a model to the Protestant mind. Like

RACHEL HOSTETTER SMITH holds the Gilkison Chair in Art History at Taylor University in Indiana, USA. Before coming to Taylor in 1998 she was on the graduate faculty of the School of Comparative Arts at Ohio University. She earned her doctorate from Indiana University with specializations in Italian Renaissance, Asian, and Medieval Art. She has curated several exhibitions, including East Meets West: Asian Art in Michigan Collections. Smith currently serves on the Board of Directors of Christians in the Visual Arts (CIVA) and is chair of the Publications Committee which oversees the journal SEEN which is published twice a year. She writes on a wide range of topics in the arts including historical and contemporary subjects in the visual arts, architecture, literature and film. Her work has been published in books and journals such as Explorations in Renaissance Culture, Renaissance Quarterly, Sixteenth Century Studies Journal, Christian Scholar’s Review, SEEN, Arts, and Mars Hill Review. BRUCE HERMAN is a painter, and Professor of Art at Gordon College, near Boston, where he is currently Lothlórien Distinguished Chair in the Fine Arts. Herman’s artwork has been exhibited in over seventy-five exhibitions in major cities in the United States (Boston, New York, Chicago, L.A.) and abroad (England, Italy, Israel). His work is housed in many private and public collections including the Vatican Museum in Rome; UCLA Grunwald Center at Armand Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, and the DeCordova Museum in the Boston area.

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