An Exhibition of Top Selections from National Catholic Reporter's Jesus 2000 Contest

An Exhibition of Top Selections
Throughout history, our art has been a primary indicator of what we humans consider important. The sheer volume of art depicting Christ bears witness to his consistent popularity in the Christian West for two thousand years. Our Jesus evolved as we did, at times suffering, at times triumphant, Judean, or, eventually, American - we were stretching our imaginations to the transcendent and unknowable, and our reach was always bound to exceed our grasp.

As the auspicious year 2000 approached, however, it was a jolt to find, as we at the National Catholic Reporter did, that scarcely anybody outside strictly church circles even mentioned Jesus amid the millennial hype. So NCR launched a competition to see, first, if anyone cared. We found they did, far and wide. Next, we wanted to see who Jesus might be for our time.

More than 1,000 artists produced almost 1,700 images. From theses emerged Janet McKenzie's "Jesus of the People." This great work turned out to be a controversial Jesus. Of course. Were it otherwise, he would scarcely be kin to the original, the charismatic messiah who stirred things up and, for better or worse, left no one unaffected.

Just as intriguing as McKenzie's Jesus, though, was the very range of images, a dazzling display of the human imagination rising to a special occasion. Wrote Fr. Michael Coleman from the Midwest: "It is not often - I can't think of anything similar - that the religious imagination of the people is explored and documented at a given historical moment, and specifically regarding the person who lies at the heart of the Christian movement."

This exhibition and others to follow it constitute a small but focused effort to bring to a wider public not only the winner, but the extraordinary variety that this search uncovered.

Michael J. Farrell
National Catholic Reporter

All sources are from National Catholic Reporter

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