Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Collection: A Wall of Christs
For years I have been collecting Mexican Christ figures. I have never forgotten the first time I saw the power and passion of Mexican Christ figures in the churches and museums, especially those from Mexico's Colonial Period. I was raised with the generally innoculous Europeanized Christs (with the exception of artists like Matthias Grunewald) I found in European and American churches, mostly muscular, idealized and white and was not ready for the brutal , bloody, and agonized portrayal of the Spanish, Indian, and Mexican artists. The great variety of mediums used also intrigued me, clay, wood, straw, so I began collecting.
The wall of Christs in our home is a conversation piece to all who visit and from time to time, friends bring me a piece for the collection. The pieces seem to have one objective: to show the pain and agony Christ suffered on the cross, and they succeed. I collect them both as a Christian and an artist. As a Christian, I am amazed at this supreme human sacrifice, and as an artist I am amazed at the innocence and sophistication of mostly folk artists who paint, carve, weave and mold these crucified Christs.
At the front of every Catholic Church in Mexico is a tortured Christ in a prominent place on the altar. I have spent hours meditating before them. I have trouble explaining to others what my fascination with these figures is. Am I morbid? Am I religious? Am I just an art collector?
Regardless, they have a place on my walls.