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Jesus` Image

When thinking of the physical image of Jesus Christ, one usually pictures a
middle aged white, bearded male. This has been a common image for centuries;
however, it is now the year 2000 and everything is changing. During this period
of change and to celebrate the millennium and observe Christ’s birth, the
National Catholic Reporter decided to sponsor an international contest which
invited artists to conceive new images of Christ. Janet McKenzie’s painting
“Jesus of the People” represents the complete antithesis of the common
overused image of Jesus. McKenzie’s painting portrays Jesus as not white but
black, not male but androgynous. Her image has shocked many and received many
varying responses. Personally, I think that this portrayal is amazing. It’s
avant-garde and ahead of the times. The world is changing in all aspects and I
believe that this new image of Jesus is extremely appropriate in that the world
is no longer predominately run by wealthy white males. Although some may not
accept McKenzie’s work now, I think that in time it will become more and more
appropriate and desirable. McKenzie’s Jesus seems to be calm and relaxed. I
strongly agree with Sister Wendy Beckett’s comment of Jesus gazing back at
viewers with “ineffable dignity.” Although he/she appears to be at ease,
he/she also suggests a state of Dombrowski 2 deep thought and contemplation. His
physical characteristics and stance are also quite interesting. As he/she stands
with his/her arms crossed and closed, he/she still appears loving. I believe
that this feeling comes from his/her facial expression. Yet although his/her
arms are crossed shut, it almost seems that he/she is embracing someone or
something. It’s inviting as if he/she wants to be holding the viewer. In
conclusion, Janet McKenzie’s “Jesus of the People” is a work of art both
representative of the times yet parallel to old ideas. I admire her courage to
portray Jesus in her personal unique view and respect her vision. I believe that
it is time that our common image of Jesus transforms into one which is more
universal and acceptable by all races and both genders.


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