Final project for Providence, Theodicy, and Ethics; Columbia Theological Seminary, Fall 2014.

photo

{Canvas, paper, acrylic paint.}

 For this group final project, my two partners (heyyy Sarah and Jared!) and I wanted to talk about visual art as a response to moral evil. (You know. Casual seminary questions.) I won’t subject you to the paper that accompanied this piece, but to summarize: we started by looking at two pre-existing visual representations of evil. Picasso’s Guernica (don’t worry, we didn’t link to Wikipedia in our paper), and some drawings that children had made in the Terezín ghetto during World War II that Sarah and I had seen on a CTS trip to the Czech Republic and Hungary. What follows is the third piece to our project — visual art as a way to imagine an alternative to evil. The injustice surrounding the deaths of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and others had been a constant in the news and on our newsfeeds. There’s always the risk, when visually portraying evil, of seeming to trivialize the deep suffering that some have endured, and the risk of seeming to imply that the solution (or progress, even) will be simply and easy. I have never experienced violence as a result of my skin color. I have experienced childhood and young adulthood able to take general survival for granted. Did a group of three white students have the right to interpret this situation in the first place? I’m honestly not sure. But here’s our addition to the conversation.

We found ourselves drawn to graffiti art, particularly that of Banksy. It seemed a fitting medium, as a grassroots effort of expression that ignores convention and doesn’t seem to care much about what the “rules” are. That being said, we still wanted to graduate at the end of the year, so our graffiti is on a canvas instead of a seminary wall.

First: the wall.photo

Then: the “what if?”

Some words from the paper that accompanied our project:

We chose to represent four white policemen sitting in a game of Duck Duck Goose with an African American child. While members of law enforcement have been portrayed as quick to draw their weapons, here weapons remain holstered. While black males have been portrayed as criminals, here one plays a simple game in which he can run with law enforcement instead of needing to run from them. While fear, anger, and assumptions plague both ‘sides’ of current tensions, here the underlying emotions are meant to be portrayed as those of trust and a genuine desire for relationship.