The Myth & History paintings led me to explore not just how myth shapes culture and culture shapes history, but how art is the messenger for both our mythologies (religion) and our historical course (politics). I began with a search for modern day Madonnas to pair with the Dolorosa (Our Lady of Sorrows) paintings–one each for the abiding tragedies of our time: 9/11 and the Iraq war. Each of those stories ended up demanding a larger treatment, a more comprehensive scale, and so evolved into the Pietà Project. This is the earliest work towards it.
I hope to construct two installations–entitled Confessional: 9/11 Pietà and Baghdad Morgue: Iraqi Pietà—around parallel historical acts of transformative violence, i.e. violence that dramatically shapes history to come.
Confessional: 9/11 Pietà
In the name of religion, one group struck out when it felt itself oppressed by the advancement of another group—in the past, the Roman Empire vs. Jewish mysticism…
followed by a human reaction
Baghdad Morgue: Iraqi Pietà
In the present, the conflict is framed as Muslim fundamentalists vs. Christian/American capitalists…
Each piece pairs a historically recognized religious sculpture in the Pietà tradition (the pietà, or pity, being the crucifixion of Jesus) with a news image from a parallel moment from current history: a woman emerging from the destruction of the World Trade Towers and a Baghdad father mourning his adult daughter killed in the Iraq War. Each reflects a similar moment of conflict in faith and power, resulting in human tragedy.
The photos below are from an installation workshop at Intersection for the Arts in 2007, where I created a half-scale model installation of the Confessional: 9/11 Pietà with my uncle, stage carpenter Michael Willcox.