You are on page 1of 16

image

CHRIST AND ART IN
Issue 117 December 2008
ASIA
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 On the Back Cover
ANGEL CREATION BANNER
Federico Domiguez Community project in Adelaide
Gouache on Bristol Board Paper Cut
3x4 meters

IMAGE | 2
117
CHRIST AND ART IN ASIA December
2008

THE ASIAN CHRISTIAN ART ASSOCIATION

CONSULTANTS
Ron O’ Grady
Contents

Rod Pattenden
Harry Wallace 02 Editor’s Note
Judo Poerwowidagdo

MANILA OFFICE STAFF
FEATURED ARTISTS
Emmanuel Garibay 04 Federico Dominguez
Michael Balili 13 Zaki Baboun
Corie Cyrene Boongaling

FEATURED ARTICLES
06 Magnificat by RH SMith
_______________________________________
08 Art, Theology and Imagination
IMAGE is published four times a year and circulated free to 10 Of Empires, Christendom and the Christian
members of the Asian Christian Art Association.
IMAGE is a publication of the Asian Christian Art Association. Arts by Dr. Ferdinand Ammang Anno
ACAA and/or the artists hold the copyrights to all the images in 12 Artworks from Art, Theology and Imagination
this publication. To inquire about permissions to use, please
email us at mail.acaa@gmail.com.

All inquiries should be addressed to
IMAGE Magazine
25-D Malambing Street;
UP Village, Diliman, Quezon City 1101
Philippines
Paintings in this Issue

Mobile Phone: +639202059244 Yang ya Utaw si Manggob (Angel), Front Cover
Email: mail.acaa@gmail.com 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
Visit the website at Second Adam Triptych, 6
www.asianchristianart.org
Flight to Egypt, 13
Second Adam (detail), 14
_______________________________________ Second Adam (detail), 15
Creation Banner, Back cover

Annual Subscription Fees

Individual Membership

USA, Canada, and Europe, AUD35

Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Korea, Singapore and
HongKong, AUD25

The rest of Asia, Africa, Central and South America, AUD15

Institutional Membership - AUD35

3 | IMAGE
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

IMAGE | 4
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
FEATURE ARTICLE

Magnificat
by Rachel Hostetter Smith
(First of two parts)

“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

IMAGE | 6
intimate relationship with them. Achingly of both the artistic and theological heritage tremendous cost. A devastating house
beautiful, they ask us to be fully present of Mary and have also provided insight fire that consumed his family’s goods and
with them to contemplate being and into his own work and artistic process. most of his paintings in September of 1997
presence through their tactile surfaces and Strong women, every one, it is they who set his work on this new trajectory that
sonorous color harmonies. As it is in the have inspired much of the thought that lies led to the series The Body Broken (2003)
case of the woman with the precious jar of behind this body of work by helping him to and the group exhibition A Broken Beauty
nard who anoints Jesus’ feet with a lavish, recognize the distinct experience of women (2006) which explored along with artists
apparently gratuitous outpouring of all that in cultures that do not often honor them like Erica Grimm-Vance, Tim Lowly, and
she has, so the artist pours all that he has and the particular sensibilities they bring Mary McCleary the paradoxical relationship
into his art as an offering and gift in order to negotiating the joys and challenges of between beauty and brokenness which
“to make paint sing.”1 Magnificat is both life with grace and integrity. The distinctive is the true state of human beings and this
proclamation and acclamation, inviting dignity and repose in the midst of suffering world. Herman imbues his figures with
us to celebrate the unbearable goodness that Herman attributes to Mary in his an arresting monumental importance, a
of being and the “radical physicality,” paintings derives from his observation of quality also found in the work of Bay Area
as Herman puts it, of the gospel. these women. With this understanding, the painter James Weeks, a mentor (along with
paintings of woman at significant stages of Philip Guston) in graduate school at Boston
There is much to be learned from the life provide an indispensable counterpoint University School for the Arts, who first noted
example of Mary and her participation in the to the themes of the triptychs, bearing a striking correspondence with Richard
Incarnation. The two triptychs that anchor testimony to the mundane yet profound Diebenkorn’s painting in the veils of color
this exhibit, Second Adam and Miriam: truth that we often get our first glimpse that provide an architectonic structure to the
Virgin Mother represent the dual paths of of God when we really look at each other. work. Although a connection may be seen
discipleship that Mary exemplifies: the via between the lush color and enticing abstract
activa, where Mary is active participant “The shifting planes of surfaces of Guston’s early paintings, it is the
called to be a key instrument in God’s most social conscience that takes center stage
critical work and the via contemplativa, luminous blue and gold blur in Guston’s later figurative paintings that
where Mary is reflective witness pondering the distinction between the relate to the probing of the human condition
the implications of God’s audacious that is the essence of Herman’s work.
plan. Just as he has so often throughout
physical and transcendent
history, God chooses an unlikely, decidedly as architectural structures Palimpsests—faint traces of things that
unimportant, and apparently highly transform into veils of color have been erased, reworked, or overdrawn-
unsuitable agent to be the means through -constitute yet another distinctive
which he will come into the world a helpless and the impervious gilded component of Herman’s visual language.
infant. What could be more unexpected? surfaces of the divine realm.” Intrigued by the symbolic implications of
What could be more uncanny? And yet what the palimpsests so commonly found in
could be more consistent for a God who will Italian art and architecture that bear witness
overturn the powers and principalities that In his essay “Tradition and the Individual to the ways in which an image or structure
rule in this world? Just as God chose to use Talent”, T. S. Eliot (1919) challenges his has been revised, replaced, or renovated in
a small band of undistinguished men led by reader to understand that no artist stands some way, Herman introduces these ghostly
Gideon to defeat the armies of Midian, so alone but must be seen in relation to those images to indicate the multi-layered and
God chose a poor young teenage girl to be who have gone before. We stand on the multi-faceted nature of reality and to remind
the vessel through which he would defeat shoulders of “the dead poets”, able to see us of our incapacity to apprehend it fully. But
the forces of death. And as God explains to perhaps a little bit farther only because of just as it is impossible to grasp the complex
Gideon, in this way it is God’s glory that will be what they achieved before us. Herman’s unity of God’s redemptive work in a strictly
made known because there can be no doubt work embodies just this kind of complex linear fashion with its overlays of prophesy
about who has brought about that victory. interplay between tradition and innovation. and fulfillment, hope and memory, it is
Drawing from the deep well of the Christian impossible to unpack the iconographical
Influence and Inspiration tradition, he casts that imagery into intricacies and theological depth of
our present moment by melding it with Herman’s paintings by dealing with the
Herman credits a conversation ongoing contemporary modes of expression where paintings as discrete entities, one at a time.
for over twenty years with trusted friend the abstraction of surface complexity carries They are best understood in dialogue with
and longtime colleague John Skillen and just as much meaning and weight as the one another. Like the sacra conversazione,
their shared enthusiasm for and dialogue representational content. The patchwork the Italian Renaissance altarpiece form that
with the Italian Renaissance tradition with of gold and silver leaf, tarnished and worn, inspired them, they invite us to engage our
prompting him to undertake the subject with vibrant color passages scratched, theological history and the implications
of Mary in his painting some five years abraded, over-painted, and sanded smooth, it has not only for the Church but
ago. But equally significant to this work is these beautiful yet marred surfaces are the perhaps more importantly, for ourselves.
the influence of the three most significant visible signs of divine presence in a world Recognizing this, the paintings of woman
women in his life—his wife Meg and that is broken and tainted by the Fall. at various stages of life make manifest the
daughter Sarah, who served as models for import and intent of the redemptive work
some of the paintings, and his mother. In The aesthetic of fragmentation seen here depicted in the triptychs, reminding us
addition, conversations with close friend, is the painterly equivalent of Herman’s that it is in every woman—and every man—
painter Tanja Butler, who has herself conception of the body broken—a visible that God’s work is to be made complete.
recently undertaken a series of paintings manifestation of all creation’s groaning, the
on Mary, have informed his understanding need for its redemption, and redemption’s (continued on page 14)

7 | IMAGE
IMAGE | 8
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.

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

IMAGE | 10
centers of Christianity (Constantinople In the contemporary world, Christendom expectations, providing aesthetic resources
and Byzantium) and their corresponding has taken a new form in the alliance in the construction and articulation of
historical landscapes. However, I would of Church interests with contemporary theologies of liberation and struggle. If the
not venture into the details of the history empire-building. In this contemporary neo- icons of the ancient and medieval Christianty
of European Christianity. It would suffice Christendom church, the liturgy maintains were able to nourish a spirituality of reaction,
for our purposes this morning to define an ambiguous (a liturgy that is ‘of,’ ‘above,’ then a parallel role for contemporary
Christendom in relation to Christian and ‘against’ the dominant secular culture dissident Kristological iconography can,
imagination, theology and the arts. [to use H. Richard Niebuhr’s typologies] at in as powerful ways, serve as the lifeblood
Historically, it refers to the ‘Christianization the same time) yet ultimately consenting, of revolution towards social reversal. The
of public space (M. Stringer),’ and of the collaborative and ideological stance vis-a- cult and arts of Christendom had, for a long
popular consciousness and imagination. vis the establishment. As in Christendom, time, effectively kept the powerful in their
the art of contemporary establishment places and the poor in their wretchedness.
The history of Christianity as Christendom Christianity serves as the aesthetic Through the same medium can the social
is a history of centralization, and rationalization and sacralization of the cancer of radical disconnectedness be
consequentially, of marginalization and imperial structures of church and society. corrected – from the radical altering of mass
exclusion. It is a hegemonic process of consciousness [-- the re-Christianization of
empire-building aimed at maintaining a From Kristo Reylogy to the public imagination] to mass upheavals.
‘center’s’ control over a subaltern marginal Kristology: From Christ the King Here, the Kristology and the popular cult
majority. In this process of hegemonization to the Dissident Kristo. of colonial Filipinos come to mind, when
where’ societies’ discourses of consent‘ are they effectively nourished the revolutionary
controlled and regulated by the dominant Emmanuel Garibay’s christo-graphy in his spirituality of the illiterate mass to launch
discourse, the ruling powers also establish Kristology, i.e., the concept of progressive one of the first anti-colonial upheavals in
and consolidate themselves in positions incarnation suggests a post-Christendom Asia. Theologies of Struggle – these are
of authority and power. The theological route in the Christian arts. Christology in where dissident post-Christendom Christian
debates during the formative years of post-Christendom arts is beginning to take arts may lead to. They witness to the
the empire church especially centering multiple incarnations and objectivations. continuing relevance of the arts and religion
on Christology, for example, resulted to No longer is Christology solely subscribing in the reordering of the cosmos, in the
the tragic suppression if not persecution to imperial images and designs. Post- construction of a new world and the birthing
of those who challenged the center and Christendom arts have bracketed off the of new life. It is this point of intersection
its discourse. The consolidation of the Christological representations of the between the arts and Christianity or religion
center through the silencing of dissenting empire to encounter the Christ in the in general that, finally, will bring the arts
theological voices effectively established margins of contemporary empire-building. into the home and womb of real culture.
orthodox Christianity and laid down the The externalization of this encounter,
institutional base of what would be the aesthetic wise, has now been objectified in
cultural, spiritual and political colonization the image of a subaltern dissident Christ.
of many societies from the centuries of This objectivation of post Christendom
Roman imperial rule to the most recent arts is now providing and establishing an Dr. Ferdinand A. Anno is a Professor of
wave of proselytizing evangelization. In iconic center for mass dissent, where the Liturgy, Theology and the Arts at the Union
this process of hegemonization the liturgy masses are able to construct and evolve a Theological Seminary at Dasmarinas,
plays an ideological role. In all its static new mythography for their emancipation. Cavite, Philippines. This paper was
(textualization, visualization) and dynamic This process is most evident in popular presented at the ACAA conference, “Art,
(performance) objectivations worship resistance arts like in protest paraliturgies. Theology and Imaginatiomn,” on 28
became an important instrument in the Christian resistance arts, especially in its October 2008.
institutionalization if not sacralization of liturgical and religious context outsize and
the center. This was due in part to the fact outperform the canvass and the stage to serve
that, in the Christian world, the period from as a theographical and theological impetus
the seventh to the ninth centuries was not for mass emancipatory politics. Christian
so much noted for its literacy. Much of arts and their larger cultic encasement owe
the popular media that were available to their efficacy to their capability to visually,
people outside of this period were remotely aniconially and physically mediate and
accessible if not outrightly banned by communicate divine presence and message
the empire church. Public worship and – speaking prophetically in our time, as
popular devotion became the primary the survey above puts it. The image of the
formators of Christian culture, spirituality dissident Christ in particular sets into motion
and discourse. The control of the liturgy dissident energies to subvert the social,
thus was crucial to the powers that be. economic, cultural and religious structures
Through the liturgical rite [and Christian that maintains imperial establishment
arts], t he empire found its most potent
means of self-communication and self- From Christendom arts to
rationalization. In and through the liturgies theologies of struggle
consenting to and helping build hegemonic
discourse Christendom established itself – Post-Christendom arts, especially those
to provide the empire its most dependable, that go astray into the dissident stream
lasting religio-cultural and cultic base. are, beyond the artists’ wildest intents and
11 | IMAGE
FEATURE ARTICLE

Artworks from the participants of

“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

IMAGE | |12
IMAGE 12
FEATURED ARTIST | Zaki Baboun

FLIGHT TO EGYPT

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.

13 | IMAGE
Mother of God, First Disciple Magnificat—A Prophetic Call the barrier between earth and heaven. The
crisscrossing lines behind Christ recall the
Until recently most Protestants had seldom The Magnificat represents Mary’s two thieves who represent the metaphorical
contemplated the significance of Mary resounding assent to Gabriel’s astonishing scaffolding of mankind’s sinful nature that
except as a foil for Jesus in the Christmas announcement and God’s audacious plan. required the raising of the Cross. At the top
story or as a mother grieving for her son Echoing the words and prophetic voice found of the Cross, a spiraling form that could be
beneath the cross on Easter. This new in both the Song of Deborah (Judges 5:2-21) serpent or vine, recalls Moses lifting up
attention to Mary has had profound effects and the Song of Hannah ( I Samuel 2:1-10), the golden serpent to cure the plague of
within the church because, when one looks Mary celebrates the impending fulfillment serpents unleashed upon the Israelites for t
at Mary, one is confronted not only with of the redemptive history foreshadowed in heir disobedience, asserting that Christ is
Mary but with Christ and with one’s self. the Old Testament with words declare it is the final and singular antidote that restores
Virgin, mother, servant, prophet, witness, already accomplished in God’s righteous all creation and mankind to himself,
disciple—she is all of these but it is sovereignty. This fulfillment takes center thrust upward by the will of God against
perhaps this last, disciple, that is the most stage in the triptych Second Adam where the forces of death and destruction. This
significant to consider. Recognizing Mary as kronos, historical time, collapses into kairos, represents the radical inversion of the
“the first Christian” casts into sharp relief God’s time, where the relationship between Gospel where death defeats death to bring
some important truths that may easily be all things is known. The shifting planes of eternal life to those who do not deserve
overlooked. Mary is the first to believe that luminous blue and gold blur the distinction it through the substitutionary sacrifice
the child she would bear was indeed God’s of Jesus Christ. Christ’s gaze, cast down
son—the Christ who would restore mankind in the direction of both Adam and Eve,
to himself. She bears witness to that truth and Christ’s feet, touching Adam’s head
by going to her cousin Elizabeth, perseveres transcend the barriers of time to link these
in that faith in spite of the collapse of all events inextricably. The encrusted faces
expectations of what his coming would and flesh of so many of the human figures
mean to her and to the oppressed people in both triptychs invite our touch as one
of Israel, stands with him at the cross, and person to another and remind us that we
bears witness to the empty tomb. That belief are all the sons and daughters of Adam—
both carried her through as she fulfilled which is from the Hebrew adama meaning
her ominous calling to be the theotokos— “earth”—and thus limited and otherwise
the mother of God or God-Bearer, as it is destined to be returned to it when we die,
more accurately translated—and cost her as “dust to dust” and “ashes to ashes”. The
dearly as she was required to embrace the scale and somatic persuasiveness of these
suffering that would necessarily entail. figures requires our participation with them
blurring the boundaries of image and reality
The dispute over the designation of Mary so that we too become actors in this story.
as theotokos (God-Bearer) or christotokos
(Christ-Bearer) in the early church was To the right of Adam we find Eve, a broken
fundamentally a debate regarding the weeping suppliant cast in shadow blindly
doctrine of the Incarnation and the true reaching out to touch the vine which is
nature of Jesus Christ. In the fifth century, her only hope, her trailing hand marking
the designation christokos, which may the legacy of sin that has passed from
sound perfectly acceptable to our ears (after generation to generation. Her prostrate
all, how can we quarrel with the designation figure situated over gilded ground recall the
of Mary as the mother of Christ?), accounted goodness of the created order, and God’s
for only one of those natures—the divine— between the physical and transcendent as presence with her despite her despairing
not both. With this in view, the phrase architectural structures transform into veils state as one who is lost but not abandoned.
“born of a woman” invites reflection on of color and the impervious gilded surfaces Masaccio’s Expulsion from the Garden
the very particularity of the Incarnation—a of the divine realm. Beneath the Cross, the depicted on a medallion on the base of the
particular woman who bore a particular first Adam, naked and bent by the toil that column between Adam and Eve indicates
man, Jesus Christ, who was no less than the is his lot grasps a vine that leads upward the rift their disobedience created with
Word of God. Herman’s depiction of Mary to the crucified Christ, the source of all life. God and between one another. Behind her
overshadowed by the Holy Spirit in the The scored and fractured surfaces of the stands Mary, the second Eve, a suppliant
central panel of the triptych Miriam:Virgin ground that surrounds him indicate the at the cross, turned inward in prayer to
Mother brings the incomprehensibility challenge of his circumstances that threaten contemplate the grievous cost of their—and
of this convergence into sharp relief. to engulf him. The vine, transfigured gold our—redemption. Pale transparent streaks
Who could imagine that the Almighty, above, links to Christ piercing the veil that of mauve that frame her carry depths of
Omniscient, Omnipresent God would deign exists between the City of God above and melancholy and confusion as she traverses
to limit himself in such as way? But in view of the City of Man below leaving a crumbling the realms of memory, hope, and grief. Yet
the theology of creation/re-creation where edifice that signals the end of the powers a golden light radiating behind her supports
God creates and Jesus Christ re-creates, and the principalities that have ruled this and shores her up, holding her firm with
Mary’s “yes” to God takes on profound place since our first parents’ original sin. the tangible imprint of a hand reaching out
significance and makes perfect sense. The patches of blue breaking through touching her arm as if to assure her of God’s
the frame at the top and the chinks in the presence even, perhaps especially, in this.
gilded surface that reveal the underlay of Flanked by the shadowy palimpsests of the
ruddy clay boll indicate the breakdown of earthly order that is fading away, Mary is
IMAGE | 14
not only a mother grieving for her son, but run out before it is time. Encompassed by Job, Abraham, David, and so many others
also stands as the Church pondering—and a golden light she stands as a witness, who came before her, she struggles and
treasuring—all things “past, present, and wondering and waiting, for the fulfillment of misunderstands, yet persists in her faith in
future”, in Herman’s words, that converge God’s promise, looking forward and back, spite of those very limitations. She provides
in this one moment. This Mary, standing pondering the meaning of Jesus’ quizzical a model for the life of faith, it’s true, but of
alongside Christ at the Cross, represents reply to her request for help, that “[his] a woman who is truly one of us. Lutheran
the substitutionary suffering that is at time ha[d] not yet come.” The Eucharistic theologian Lois Malcolm writes in an essay
the heart of the Gospel, for just as Christ implications are clear where the wine titled “What Mary Has to Say about God’s
willingly chose to give up his life so that we foreshadows Christ’s saving blood. Linking Bare Goodness” that reflects on Luther’s
might live, so Mary willingly undertook the time from the anticipation to the fulfillment Commentary on the Magnificat that, “the
suffering that assenting to God’s call would of that promise, the two Marys in the panels lesson that Mary…teach[es] is that God’s
demand. But we can’t stop there because flanking the Cross are mirror images of one bare goodness, even when hidden or unfelt,
these events also have implications another differentiated only by the color of gives the equanimity not only to defend the
for the Church and for each one of us, the headdresses and the texture of their right or the truth…but to face whatever may
as Beverly Roberts Gaventa explains in skin. Yet the visible weariness and signs of come with an ‘even mind’.” Mary’s quiet
her essay “Standing Near the Cross”, aging in Mary at the Cross reveal a private strength, so evident in these images, as
“to consider Mary in light of the cross suffering and the personal cost of following she wonders and waits for the unfolding
summons, first, images of the mater God’s call. Just as in the Italian Renaissance, of God’s plan at Cana and witnesses its
dolorosa, the sheer fact of Mary’s grief culmination at Calvary can be no better
and the grief of all who acknowledge the assurance of God’s faithfulness in all things.
relentlessness of the human rejection of
Mary’s child. Yet more is at stake than (TO BE CONTINUED IN IMAGE 118)
shared grief. Mary’s association with the
cross recalls for Christians the scandal at Notes:
1
From M. B. Goffstein, An Artist (Harper & Row, 1980).
the heart of the gospel: that God’s actions 2
Blessed One: Protestant Perspectives on Mary.
on our behalf meet ever and again with Beverly Roberts Gaventa & Cynthia L. Rigby, editors.
misunderstanding and rejection. In Mary’s Westminster John Knox Press, 2002. (page 56)
“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 Rachel Hostetter Smith holds the Gilkison
a new age when the Lord will bring “down Chair in Art History at Taylor University in Indiana,
rulers from their thrones” and fill “the hungry USA. Before coming to Taylor in 1998 she was on
with good things” sending “the rich away the graduate faculty of the School of Comparative
empty.” The status inversion proclaimed Arts at Ohio University. She earned her doctorate
from Indiana University with specializations in
by the Magnificat where the lowly are
Italian Renaissance, Asian, and Medieval Art. She
exalted and the mighty are brought down has curated several exhibitions, including East
designates her as advocate of the poor and Meets West: Asian Art in Michigan Collections.
downtrodden, a calling widely recognized Smith currently serves on the Board of Directors
beyond feminist and liberation theology these figures are engaged in a holy of Christians in the Visual Arts (CIVA) and is chair
as central to the work of the Church. conversation with one another, collapsing of the Publications Committee which oversees
In the panel to the left of the Crucifixion, time to see things more whole from a divine the journal SEEN which is published twice a year.
Mary is depicted at the wedding at Cana perspective. Contrary to the Modernist She writes on a wide range of topics in the arts
meditating in hortus conclusus (the emphasis on expression which turns including historical and contemporary subjects
in the visual arts, architecture, literature and
enclosed garden that refers to her virgin inward to focus on the self, this art aspires
film. Her work has been published in books and
purity as the vessel for the Incarnation) to look outward inviting communication journals such as Explorations in Renaissance
adumbrating the miracle where water will so that we may commune or be truly Culture, Renaissance Quarterly, Sixteenth
be turned into wine and her son’s eventual present with one another and with God. Century Studies Journal, Christian Scholar’s
death. The overlapping of the three scenes Review, SEEN, Arts, and Mars Hill Review.
in the triptych and the translucent veils of Contrary to common perceptions, most of
paint offering faint glimpses of forms and the Reformers held Mary in high regard. Bruce Herman is a painter, and Professor
colors just beneath the surface coincide Many accepted the designation of Mary as of Art at Gordon College, near Boston, where
with the penetrable nature of time and theotokos, understanding its christological he is currently Lothlórien Distinguished Chair
in the Fine Arts. Herman’s artwork has been
memory, suggesting a God’s-eye view of the significance. Both Luther and Calvin
exhibited in over seventy-five exhibitions in
outworking of mankind’s salvation that was presented her as an exemplar of obedience major cities in the United States (Boston, New
anticipated from the beginning. A horizontal and faith who should appropriately be York, Chicago, L.A.) and abroad (England, Italy,
line that passes from Adam’s hand grasping honored and emulated, albeit avoiding Israel). His work is housed in many private
the vine to Mary’s breast establishes a exalted titles or formal ceremony. It is in and public collections including the Vatican
connection between cause and effect. fact Mary’s very humanness, so readily Museum in Rome; UCLA Grunwald Center at
Gazing at the water pots, she contemplates seen in these paintings, that commends Armand Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, and
the dilemma of the good wine that has her as a model to the Protestant mind. Like the DeCordova Museum in the Boston area.

15 | IMAGE
If undelivered, return to:
Asian Christian Art Association
25-D Malambing Street, UP Village
Diliman, Quezon City 1101
PHILIPPINES