I’ve heard of Timothy Schmalz’s Jesus The Homeless in various forums. I did not know that the reproduction of his statue had not yet made it to the States. NPR has a feature today on Weekend Edition Sunday of the Lord on the bench at an Episcopal church in North Carolina. Someone called the police because they thought the huddled figure was a real vagrant.
I wouldn’t read too much into the cathedrals in Toronto and New York turning down first castings of this depiction. My parish carefully plans its art. Cathedrals certainly do. If we were offered a statue like this, we would lean strongly against a reproduction. Our parish is used to paying for original work. But the depiction of the Lord or of one of the saints in a non-traditional, thoughtful, or even challenging way would be a strong consideration.
Is art supposed to afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted? Have people come not to expect this from their encounters with “beauty” in religious settings? Does “nice” art comfort us too much?