Last week, I posted about a woman who walked into the Loveland Museum/Gallery and destroyed a piece of artwork by Enrique Chagoya. I questioned at the end of my article whether critiques with the weight and emotional volume of Chagoya’s print – which depicted Jesus in sexual acts (a Christian favourite) and an Islamic prophet kneeling before pigs, among other things.
Under normal circumstances, the immoral act of destroying ones art would likely make an artist completely irate. Chagoya, however, has agreed to work with the pastor of Loveland’s Resurrection Fellowship church to create a piece of artwork depicting Jesus in a positive light. Pastor Jonathan Wiggins wrote Chagoya after opposition to the artwork began asking if Chagoya would be able to “offer [his] artistic ability and compose an image of Christ representing love and understanding, something precious.”
Chagoya agreed, and the project has received overwhelming approval from the 1,400-member congregation, according to the Denver Post, who quoted pastor Wiggins as saying that “we had standing ovations at the end.” Six members of the congregation are said to have walked out in protest of the redemption efforts.
When Chagoya explained that he was criticizing the corruption of the Catholic Church in his piece rather than the loving nature of Christ, it arguably removed some of the animosity. The efforts at making peace among differently minded groups should be applauded, particularly the open mindedness of a resistant audience to hearing the intended meaning behind the artwork. It is also admirable to seek an effective dialogue that could potentially open more discussion on contentious church vs. spirituality and church as a corruptor issues.
“I read some things Chagoya had said, and it sounded more logical and reasonable than anything that was said about his work,” the Denver Post reported Wiggins as saying. “I think a good friendship has been formed through this. It’s been a profound experience for me.”
According to ArtInfo, the woman who destroyed the artwork appeared in court wearing a “Jesus beat the devil with a big wooden stick” t-shirt and plead not guilty to felony criminal mischief. Her trial is scheduled for January.