Today’s post comes from the Renewal exhibit at the Utah Cultural Celebration Center in West Valley City: Hikmet Sidney Loe’s literary response to Frank McEntire’s “Hooked on Jesus.” You can see all the visual works and literary responses at the UCCC through April 25.
Icon: Hooked on Jesus
We surround ourselves with omens, with icons. Our chosen objects murmur comfort, offer advice, whisper hope. Some days, they speak to us in words we find difficult to say aloud: live better, love more. Each day, we start anew, though; each day, our icons offer the promise of renewal.
Byzantine icons were objects of devotion; their power lay in the ability of the owner to speak directly to the image of their veneration. Spiritual solace was achieved by praying to these luminescent objects of worship, often simple wood panels painted in deep rich reds and blues, accented in shimmering gold. Figures of Jesus, Mary, and occasional saints were flattened in the space of the painted world, appearing to float in a supernatural realm of calm – and calming – assurance. Candlelight flickered below the icon panel, casting golden glows as spirit swirled to the object of devotion, finding a place in the ether, as the edges of the wood panel burned through flames’ contact.
Icons are physical objects, though: they reside on the earth through weight and substance. Artist Frank McEntire relies on the strength of his chosen materials to give heft to his sculptural collages, entrusting each aspect of a work will compliment and elevate the other. Just as the simplicity of a Byzantine icon gave the viewer the power of prayer, McEntire’s works grace the viewer with the power to choose. Hooked on Jesus follows in the lineage of Byzantine icons: it is a simple wooden panel with the object of devotion central to the piece. The sculptural aspect of Christ’s body casts a shadow below the rusted hook of assumed crucifixion. The juxtaposition of materials allows the viewer to determine intent, giving us the freedom to consider if this is our icon. Seemingly disused materials are brought to life, are used to suggest the offer – to those who would believe – of renewal.
Hikmet Sidney Loe
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