A recent exhibit at Taos’ Harwood Museum called “Órale” had three images of Jesus in less than religious context, including one of Jesus in a sink. The images were, according to one artist, to be considered an “open narrative.” In other words, finish the story yourself. Or don’t. Maybe there was no story, just an image.
I asked the artist of one of the pieces if he had any death threats from Bible-belt Baptists or other Christian fundamentalists. He laughed. Said he might have lost a few Facebook friends, but there has been nothing else.
At Taos’ Town Hall, an exhibit of Bill Baron’s cartoons hung in the corridors, earlier this year. He is the editorial cartoonist for the Taos News, and many of his cartoons lampoon and take the Taos Town Council to task; however, Mayor Barrone and the Council welcomed the exhibit.
Imagine that in the halls of power. Could a cartoonist do that in Tehran, Damascus, Cairo, Ankara or Sri Lanka? Cartoonists have been imprisoned, exiled or have disappeared in those places for their work.
Images of Jesus and politicians: whether you like them or not, we’re free to express our views in this country, which is not the case in countries controlled by totalitarian governments, religious theocracies and in countries like France where religious militias—immigrants—have imported their fanaticism and terror.
My view is that if your religious faith is strong enough, no art object can destroy it. Faith is personal. You decide, not someone else. And as to politicians, they know that as many as 49% of the electorate may have voted against them, so a little satire comes with the territory. The best politicians have a sense of humor and can laugh at themselves.
And in times like these, we have to laugh to keep from crying.