BIRMINGHAM, AL.- The Birmingham Museum of Art
is presenting an exhibition that considers the wide-ranging representation of one of art historys most pervasive subjects, Jesus. Drawn largely from the Museums permanent collection, Embodying Faith: Imagining Jesus through the Ages showcases 30 works that span more than six centuries and feature varying depictions of Jesus by artists working across the globe: from Ethiopia to Italy, France to Fayette County, Alabama. The exhibition traces how artists imagined Jesus and includes work in a range of media including prints, drawings, paintings, sculpture, quilts, flags, and books.
For centuries, artistic production in Europe, and elsewhere, was dominated by Christian themes. This religious art served many purposes, from embellishing altars and aiding in private devotion, to educating the faithful and acting as propaganda either for or against the church during the Protestant Reformation. Artists often conveyed complex theological concepts through their representations of the figure. Types of images, such as the Madonna and Child, developed and evolved over time.
Historically, visual traditions were critical in communicating important events from the life of Jesus and reflecting his central role in the Christian faith. This exhibition encourages visitors to explore the many ways artists represented the life of Jesus and how these traditions and conventions changed with time and place, says Dr. Robert Schindler, The Fariss Gambrill Lynn and Henry Sharpe Lynn Curator of European Art at the Birmingham Museum of Art. Works that in essence express the same narrative, could have widely different aesthetics and purposes. Depictions of the Crucifixion, for instance, could focus on the symbolic meaning of his death, imagine the historical setting, or aim to evoke an emotional response in the viewer.