Now, this may strike the liturgically inclined as a bit of a disconnect, since we are now into the Easter season. What sense is there in stretching out an exhibition that focuses so squarely on the events of the Passion?
While the works in Good Friday focus on themes such as suffering, injustice, and death, they also explore complementary themes of healing, redemption, and renewal. In other words, the experience of Easter is implicit in all of these works, and even explicitly hinted at in several of them, such as this painting by Nick Boskovich titled Emmaus: Rose of the Passion (Requiem for Caravaggio):
So, although at first blush it may seem jarring to come see a show titled Good Friday during the Easter season, we believe that the works in the show offer important perspectives on the deeper meaning of suffering and redemption.
Furthermore, one of the most-commented upon aspects of this exhibition is the invitation it offers to visitors to allow the works to become gateways to contemplation, meditation, and even prayer. Close to 100 visitors made the exhibition part of their Good Friday observance last week. As a former chapel, MOCRA’s architecture itself fosters an atmosphere of calm and reflection. We don’t believe the practice of this sort of reflection with art is bound by time or season.
Now you have a couple more weeks to explore this rich exhibition for yourself. Find out more about Good Friday here.
It’s been another busy stretch at MOCRA. The response to Good Friday has been tremendously positive, with a higher-than-usual number of groups scheduling visits. We’ve also been busy with two projects:
The first, supported by a grant from the VOICES project at Saint Louis University (funded by the Lilly Endowment), is a booklet of reflections on the artwork in Good Friday for use by visitors who wish to approach the exhibition in an attitude of meditation or prayer. The booklet takes a different approach from our wall texts/didactics. While those provide relatively “neutral” information about the iconography of the work or the artist’s expressed intent, the booklet explicitly puts the works in a (Christian) faith context. You can see a sample page on the MOCRA website.
This is something we’ve been interested in trying for a while now — bridging art appreciation with theological reflection and catechesis (religious education) — and this exhibition presented an excellent opportunity to experiment. So far feedback has been encouraging.
The challenge ahead will be to develop similar resources for future exhibitions (which may not have such clearly religious themes) and for visitors of other faith traditions. Also, we will be exploring what sorts of activities are “appropriate” in a museum setting–either sponsored by the institution, or simply permitted?
We’d welcome feedback from our blog readers. If you would like a copy of the booklet, send us a message with your snail mail address and we’ll send one your way.