Why a Wheaton College Professor Smeared Jesus in Human Dirt
Jeff and I talked about what I might make for the space. All of the work has a biblical theme. I wanted to get input from Jeff, as I was nervous about approaching anything theological on my own. After a couple of ideas, Jeff encouraged me to consider making a piece about the death and resurrection of Jesus. I was terrified. That is a subject I have never wanted to deal with. It is just too big for me. At first I thought there was no way I was going to be able to do that.
But, after a few days, I begin to see how some ideas I was exploring were coming together: my interest in the history of objects, my love of the communion of saints, my interest in working with mundane, overlooked materials, my desire to incorporate ritual into my artistic process. The core idea for Corpus began to suggest itself to me.
How do you anticipate that the Wheaton community will respond to the piece when it debuts April 22?
Well, the work has received attention in the college newspaper and a recent chapel message. Members of the community are being educated about the piece, about the process, and about the ideas behind it. This is great. At the same time, this means people are already forming their responses to the piece, which is a bit unfortunate. The piece isn't up yet. It's not even finished yet. I hope that the piece will still have the power and presence to surprise people. Again, this goes to that earlier comment about things becoming abstract instead of tangible.
It strikes me that Corpus presents a meditation for Good Friday: that Christ took on upon his body our humanity in all its mess and dirt. In what ways is the piece also a meditation for Easter Sunday?
A verse that come to my mind is from II Corinthians: "For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." I think that verse is somehow represented by the piece. It is both a "Good Friday" and an "Easter Sunday" verse. I really hope the "Easter Sunday" part of the piece will manifest itself. Part of that will require the viewer to begin to contemplate on the skin cells and hair in a positive way. To think of our community grafted into Christ's body, and also grafted in with the body of the Communion of Saints (that's where the history of the piece comes in, and why I didn't want a new corpus). That's where the hope comes in.
Also, I have removed the corpus from the cross. It will "float" just in front of the wall. While it maintains the pose of crucifixion, I hope there will be a hint in that pose of ascension to it as well. While ascension is not technically an "Easter Sunday" topic, it is an Easter season one.