Wednesday, 28 December 2016

A modern madonna

This picture by Parker Fitzgerald depicts Jesus and Mary, and is designed to unsettle. Unusually, Mary is the very young girl tradition suggests, rather than the 30-something we expect from the usual iconographies. Furthermore, both Mary and Jesus are drawn to look contemporary, although the border, background and the dragon design on her robe are Celtic and otherworldly. Maybe the artist intends us to see a New Age Mary, liberating her from the bonds of traditional piety. the unkempt and rather desperate gaze suggests the role of refugee she briefly lived when Jesus was a toddler. 
     It's always good to see a well-known scene through different eyes. We may not agree with  everything it seeks to say (we may not understand either). Then again, perhaps we see in part and agree in part. But refusing to see a scene through anything but the same eyes we always use ultimately becomes tantamount to employing a filter --- itself suggesting a built-in prejudice.
     Seeing this Mary should help us see Mary in other women, and see Jesus in other babies. After all, as the hymn says, "Be born in us today".

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