ART IN AMERICA MAGAZINE – DECEMBER 2022 – THE RELIGION ISSUE – JESUS DIES ON CROSS, 2022 BY TAMMY NGUYEN – BRAND NEW

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Art in America is an illustrated monthly, international magazine concentrating on the contemporary art world in the United States, including profiles of artists and genres, updates about art movements, show reviews and event schedules.

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ART IN AMERICA: DECEMBER 2022: THE RELIGION ISSUE:

An interview for the “In the Studio” feature in this issue, artist Shahpour Pouyan perfectly captures the central contradiction of religion: “Belief is the most dangerous thing. And it’s also the most precious thing we have as humans.”

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The power shared among the artists featured in this issue is their ability to bring religious imagery and allusions into the present. Francesca Tarocco cites Lu Yang as one artist who does so by transmuting Buddhism’s realms of reincarnation, stages of enlightenment, and levels of existence into the world of video games. Monica Uszerowicz describes how a piece resulting from a collaboration between Chire “VantaBlack” Regans and Loni Johnson utilizes ancestor altars suffused with West African Yoruban symbolism for the purpose of mourning contemporary victims of gun violence.

Alina Perez, an artist who brings powerful Christian imagery into her pieces, notes in a roundtable in this issue that imagery of this sort has historically had the power to make people “see and believe, which is scary—but it’s also very inspiring to think that you could perhaps create images that have a place in the future.” Perez has said that, in her special pull-out print included in this issue, the posture of the figure holding a glowing swarm of writhing baby alligators is similar to those depicted in Catholic prayer cards.

In keeping with Shahpour Pouyan’s observation that “belief is the most dangerous thing,” one might reflect on the horrors of world history that have resulted from belief, and how many of those horrors resulted from Christian colonization. In that same roundtable on Christian imagery, artist Frieda Toranzo Jaeger says that, as someone coming from a shamanistic, Indigenous background, she was “always terrified of Christianity, because of the way many of its values are ingrained in society.” When it comes to painting, however, Toranzo Jaeger says that “revisiting and repurposing history is, to me, a core practice of decolonization.” She continues, “I give myself the agency to revisit histories that don’t relate to my background—especially those of the European Middle Ages.” 

Indeed, one of the ways in which religion can be precious to us as humans is as a tool for artists to heal the ills of the past, and to imagine—and shape—what is to come.

DEPARTMENTS

NEW TALENT: ISABELLE ANDRIESSEN

by Emily Watlington

The Dutch sculptor highlights the persistence and changeability of inorganic components.

SIGHTLINES

Jewish Museum curator Liz Munsell tells us what’s on her mind.

THE EXCHANGE: THE EARTH IS AN ARTIFACT

by Asad Raza with Emanuele Coccia

An artist and an ecological philosopher discuss the dynamic rapport between nature and culture.

HARD TRUTHS: ZINE NOBILITY

by Chen & Lampert

Advice columnists Howie Chen and Andrew Lampert address the frustrations of art book fairs and nonprofit board members.

CRITICAL EYE: LOST ILLUSIONS

by Pepe Karmel

Trompe l’oeil painting and Cubism are formally akin but worlds apart in terms of viewer experience and pictorial meaning.

ONE WORK: CARRIERS

by Emily Chun

Mire Lee’s recent sculptural suite of pumping mechanisms and suspended hoses recalls visceral processes and organs.

PROFILE: STELLA ZHONG

by Mira Dayal

Playing with elements seen and unseen in her sculptures, paintings, and videos, the Chinese-born, New York–based artist probes the limits of understanding.

BOOK REVIEW

Eleanor Heartney on Kaelen Wilson-Goldie’s Beautiful, Gruesome, and True: Artists at Work in the Face of War.

HANDS ON

Q&A with conservator Julian Baumgartner.

FEATURES

VIBRANT BEINGS

by Francesca Tarocco 

The popular notion of a calmly meditative Buddhism is only part of the religion’s long and complex story.

BUILDING MORMONISM

by Greg Allen

The soaring temples and tabernacles of the Church of Latter-day Saints connote both heavenly aspirations and refuge from social persecution.

PRACTICING ASCENSION

by Monica Uszerowicz

Works by Kurt Nahar, María Magdalena Campos-Pons, Nyugen E. Smith, and Chire “VantaBlack” Regans and Loni Johnson attest to the ongoing vitality of Afro-Caribbean spirituality. 

PICTURING THE HOLY LAND 

by Chelsea Haines

For photographers and filmmakers, representing the Palestinian-Israeli region is a tug-of-war between religious myths and sociopolitical reality.

IN THE STUDIO: SHAHPOUR POUYAN

with Jordan Amirkhani

Born in Iran and currently based in London, the conceptual sculptor talks about his lifelong fascination with Islamic architecture, high-tech weaponry, global mythologies, and ancient philosophy. 

SEEING & BELIEVING

moderated by Emily Watlington

Four painters—Frieda Toranzo Jaeger, Tammy Nguyen, Alina Perez, and Jannis Marwitz—discuss their bold reinventions of traditional Christian iconography. A special pull-out print by Perez accompanies the article.

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