The Burden of Honoring One’s Father, by Marshall K. Harris

Crucifixion in Art

To many people the visual display of torture is abhorrent. Yet to many others, one particular image of torture has great religious meaning: the crucifixion of Jesus. “The Burden of Honoring One’s Father” is a larger than life graphite drawing of a bare outstretched arm, it’s hand I am writing short posts about some fascinating ArtPrize entries. See them all at Observations: ArtPrize 2014.
The world’s largest art competition, ArtPrize 2014, is happening in Grand Rapids, Michigan, September 24 to October 12. It is the ultimate in creative expression with over 1500 works on display.
See pictures and news of ArtPrize at 
impaled against rough wood with a large spike. It’s obvious subject is the crucifixion of Jesus.

Depicting Christ’s crucifixion in an art form has thousands—probably millions—of precedents. From the renaissance to the present, paintings, sculptures, and hand held crucifixes showing Christ’s death have been a central icon in Christianity—and particularly in the Roman Catholic Church. In 2011, ArtPrize displayed the exquisitely made glass mosaic “Crucifixion,” by Mia Tavonatti, and it won the grand prize.

The meaning of Christ’s crucifixion is clear to Marshall K. Harris: “It was horrible and bloody and torturous. But Christ, knowing beforehand what it would be like, endured it so he could honor his father’s commitment to providing mankind with a supreme example of sacrifice and salvation.” Millions of Christians would agree with him.

Separating Believers from Unbelievers?

But, in the twenty-first century, many people no longer accept the idea of a God who requires the torture and death of “His Son” to make humans whole. I am one of them. For me, the work inspires admiration for the artist’s skill, but its overt message has no appeal.

I wonder what you think. Does art depicting the crucifixion of Jesus create a sense of separation between “believing” viewers and the rest?

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