Photographic art based on a series of images I took myself of statues around the base of the 190 foot Groom Cross in Groom, Texas.
These images - 14 in all - are in fulfillment of a commission of 40x40 prints for a Catholic Church in Louisiana of the series that represent the 14 Stations of the Cross or Via Dolorosa (Way of Sorrows) which are vignettes of Jesus Christ's walk to Cavalry and his Crucifixion. Similar images in plaster, bronze, pewter, painted on wood panels or sculpted can be found in Christian churches throughout the world and in many communities, people from all denominations participate in "Living Stations" or "Passion plays" based on these same moments.
For many hundreds of years, from the early Middle Ages until more than a century after the Renaissance - Catholic Christian religious art dominated Western/European culture. Except for portraiture, one would have been hard put to find much secular art in Europe until the late 16th and 17th centuries.
Similar religious art still lives on in some places. In the small town of Groom, Texas, along Interstate 40, stands a 190 foot cross that can be seen across the Texas and Oklahoma panhandles from more than 20 miles away. Constructed by Steven Thomas over a period of 8 months, the huge metal cross stands today on private property near the highway. In the years following its construction, sculptor, Mickey Wells, created a series of life size bronze sculptures to add to the site. Twelve of these - representing 12 of the 14 Stations of the Cross - are placed in a circle around the central cross. Also called "The Way of Sorrows" or "Via Dolorosa," the stations depict the final hours in the life of Jesus - from his condemnation to his being laid in the tomb. There are many sensitive, enlightened people who are repelled by what seems to be a glorification of an especially brutal and gruesome death. My feeling is that the recreation of this Way of Sorrows is an attempt to understand and find meaning in suffering, particularly when it is undeserved. We ask this question every day when we are faced by the brutality human beings visit on one another and on other living creatures every single day. Why?
One late October afternoon driving down to Texas, I was one of the 1000 people a day who stop to see the Groom cross. I had only a few moments just before sunset to take the pictures I wanted to take - and while I acknowledge that I am a Christian, albeit a very non-traditional one who embraces the teachings of the Masters of many faith traditions and non-religious philosophies, I have to admit that it was the artistry of the sculptor that totally engaged my interest and awe. In the dying and too brilliant light of sunset, I snapped as many shots as I could - unfortunately paying little attention to composition or framing of any single shot.
But looking at my rather poor photos, it occurred to me that I might preserve my own impressions of these sculptures and at the same time pay tribute to the nearly 1000 years of religious art that dominated the Western world throughout the Middle Ages right up until the post-Reformation period. Much of this kind of art can still be seen in churches and cathedrals all over the world as well as in the great museums that house the masterpieces of the Medieval and Renaissance periods. I post them here over the next few days as ART. There is certainly no intention on my part to offend those of other religious traditions or non-religious traditions whose own artistic expressions I greatly admire. I've chosen to create my representation of four of the 14 stations along the Via Dolorosa in a style that I hope is reminiscent of the Middle Ages - using my own images of the sculptures found around the base of the Groom cross.
I would be remiss in not noting that all the textures including the one used for the background are from darkwood67 on Flickr.
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March 4th, 2012
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