Over the past decade much of my work has explored the relationship between narrative symbolic imagery and it’s content by subtlety altering the intended meaning, thus subverting, recasting or re-contextualize it. The Reliquaries represent my latest take on this theme.
Although already familiar with Marian representation in 14th -17th century Italian painting, I became fascinated with the prevalence of small altars for the veneration of Mary during my first trip to Italy in 1992 to study and teach. I find these polychrome and plaster statuary to be both beautiful and unsettling. During numerous trips since then I began to visually document these altars culmination in a research trip to Naples in 2011.
The Seven Sorrows are based upon the traditional Catholic telling of Mary’s sorrow about certain events in Christ’s life, symbolized by the flaming heart pierced by seven swords.
As an agnostic, I’ve often wondered what our world would be like if people spent as much time in devotion to and reflection upon Nature and the gift it represents as they do upon religion and the after life. Perhaps our environment, the planet and our species would be much better off.
In this series I’m attempting to recast the Seven Sorrows by juxtaposing images of nature and/or the environment in various symbolic ways thus visually retelling them as a reflection of both sorrow and hope.