October 6, 2016–March 12, 2017

The Christa Project

About the Exhibition

During Holy Week of 1984, Edwina Sandys’ Christa was displayed in the Cathedral as part of a small exhibition on the feminine divine. The general reception was positive, but a particularly vocal minority condemned the piece and its placement in a house of worship through ecclesiastical denunciations and a plethora of hate mail that attacked the “blasphemy” of changing the symbol of Christ. These dissenters highlighted how the sculpture’s allegedly sexualized (i.e. female) figure brought attention to Christ’s human body, which was “blasphemous, shocking, and inappropriate.”

Conversations about the politics of identity have changed tremendously since the 1980s. Christa’s essential statement, however, remains vital to our world today: people are hungry to see themselves and each other fully represented in society, especially in its most powerful and iconic institutions. In turn, the Cathedral is thrilled to display Christa once again, alongside works by 21 other contemporary artists, all exploring the language, symbolism, art, and ritual associated with the historic concept of the Christ image and the divine as manifested in every person—across all genders, races, ethnicities, sexual orientations, and abilities.

Eiko Otake, of the acclaimed performance artists Eiko & Koma, has been appointed Artist in Residence and co-curator. Eiko will choreograph a series of performances, sometimes in collaboration with poets and musicians. This series of events will explore in movement, word, and music the urgent themes underlying the exhibition. Hannah Wolfe Eisner, a student at Wesleyan University who joined the Cathedral as an intern in 2015 and devoted her intellect, time and passion to the exhibition, is the in-house co-curator.

Exhibition Map

Artists

Meredith Bergmann

Based in New York City, Bergmann has been working as a sculptor of private works and public monuments for nearly 40 years. She seeks out public commissions that explore issues of history, race, human rights, disabilities and the power of poetry and music. Her private works often involve visual and verbal puns

Genesis Breyer P-Orridge

Breyer P-Orridge’s work ranges from music to sculpture and installation art, frequently drawing upon themes of cosmic gender, sacred sexuality and esoteric spirituality. H/er band Throbbing Gristle broke new ground for industrial music in the 1970s, and h/er current group Psychic TV and spoken-word project Thee majesty continue to introduce listeners to new realms of sonic possibilities.

Holly Trostle Brigham

Brigham is a Philadelphia-based figurative painter who creates mythical allegories of contemporary and historical subjects. Based in Philadelphia, she has shown her work around the United States. She taught painting and drawing at the Baum School of Art and has taught at the Worcester Art Museum, Worcester State College, Lebanon Valley College, Lafayette College and Pasadena City College

Loren Eiferman

Eiferman was born in Brooklyn and currently lives and works in update New York. Her work has been exhibited extensively throughout the New York region, from the Lower East Side of New York City to the Hudson Valley (Katonah, Neuberger, Hudson River and Dorsky Museums). Her work is included in numerous corporate, private and public art collections.

Nona Faustine

Born and raised in Brooklyn, photographer and visual artist Faustine is a graduate of The School of Visual Arts and The International Center of Photography at Bard College MFA program 2013. Her work focuses on history, identity, representation and what it means to be a woman in the 21st century. 

Jackie Fawn

Fawn is a California-based artivist who uses her art to aid in social and environmental movements. Her main focus in art is in illustrating indigenous (Yuork, Washoe, Filipino) issues that have gone unnoticed by modern America. 

Terry Flaxton

Flaxton is a Professor of Cinematography and Lens Based Arts at the University of the West of England and is director of the Centre for Moving Image Research. Flaxton has done a wide array of video work over the years, which has been exhibited at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine along with other cathedrals, churches, and international galleries.

Frederika Foster

Foster is a painter and photographer with a studio in New York City. Born in Seattle, she earned a BA from the University of Washington and studied and taught at the Factory of Visual Arts. Her work has been exhibited internationally and is in many private and public collections. Foster guest curated The Value of Water at the Cathedral in 2011. 

Gabriel García Román

García Román was born in Zacatecas, Mexico, in 1973 and raised in Chicago. He received his B.A. in studio art at The City College of New York. García Román is a photo-based artist and craftsman currently living and working in New York City. 

Janice Gordon

Gordon is a mixed media artist who explores the connections between apparent opposites, such as art and science, nature and culture, and matter and spirit. She has studios in both New York and Mexico and has exhibited her work internationally. 

Hélène Gugenheim

Gugenheim is a poet and a visual artist who lives near Paris, France. She wrote Nuits, a poetry-novel published by Gaspard Nocturne, in 2014. She is currently writing her second and leading a creative workshop, Prendre corps. She conducts research at the crossroads of poetry, performance and visual art. 

Jenny Hankwitz

Hankwitz is a New York-based abstract painter whose work combines deliberate abstraction with chance playfulness. She picked up clay as a medium during a 2001 residency in New Mexico. 

William Johnston

Johnston is professor of history, East Asian studies, and science in society at Wesleyan University. He has co-taught courses with Eiko Otake on the atomic bombings of Japan and on mountaintop removal coal mining. Johnston has worked with digital color, 35 mm B&W, large-format cameras, and platinum prints. 

Emma Lindström

Lindström currently lives and works in Gothenburg, Sweden, but occasionally branches out to the French Pyrenees. Mostly acrylic-based, her paintings experiment with different techniques to convey raw energy and emotion on canvas. 

Heidi Loening

Originally from New York City, Loening currently lives in Portland, Oregon, and will begin her senior year at Reed College this fall. Her artwork explores the place of women and femininity in mythology, literature, and biblical stories. She is curious about how these figures have been depicted historically and the possibilities for alternative representations of their imagined lived experiences.

Ted Meyer

Based in Los Angeles, Meyer is a nationally recognized artist, curator and patient advocate who helps patients, students and medical professionals see the positive in the worst that life can offer. He is also a freelance designer, writer, photographer and illustrator and has written and illustrated several books. 

Eiko Otake

Raised in Japan and based in New York since 1976, Eiko, co-curator and Artist in Residence of The Christa Project, is well known for her 40-year partnership with Koma, with whom she has performed worldwide and received many prominent awards and fellowships. Since 2014, she has been working on an unfolding solo project, A Body in Places

Edwina Sandys

Sandys began her career in London in the 1970s and continues to work from her studio in New York City. Her internationally acclaimed work includes sculpture, painting, collage, and works on paper, and her recent works are mainly large-scale metal sculptures. Ranging from political to playful, her art frequently explores the relationships between man and woman. 

Kiki Smith

Born in Germany, Smith is a highly acclaimed American artist with artwork in prominent museums and galleries in New York City and elsewhere. Much of her work explores the human condition, from networks of muscles and nerves to our relationships to plant and animal life. Her sculptures, drawings, prints and installations explore themes of birth, death, suffering, silence, and incarnation.

Esmay Wagemans

Based in the Netherlands, Wagemans is an artist who pushes boundaries of normative ideas around sex, sexism and the female body. Her projects seek new ways of understanding what it means to be naked and how we experience wearing clothes. Carefully documenting her process, she visualizes her research as an archive, creating a personal material encyclopedia. 

Kara Walker

New York-based artist Kara Walker is best known for her candid investigation of race, gender, sexuality, and violence and their roles in American history and politics. Her work has received great acclaim in numerous exhibitions worldwide. 

Bettina Witteveen

WitteVeen is a self-taught photographer and conceptual artist of international acclaim with a studio in New York City. She travels to extensively research and photograph her projects; most take several years to complete. With a BA in American Studies and History from Wellesley College, WitteVeen explores a wide range of subjects including mythology, history, and collective trauma. 

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