Artist’s Statement: In God’s Name
Much of my work is political, containing statements about the world’s treatment of itself. My most recent target is religion, which I have come to see as a horrific influence in all societies. This idea had teetered at the back of my mind for several years because of a number of issues. Then a few years ago, I found myself in the remote Maya village of San Juan Chamula in Mexico’s southernmost state of Chiapas. I learned that 70,000 people had been expelled from that area because they had chosen an evangelical religion over a kind of Catholicism that is the custom in Chamula. I soon after learned that a prominent folk art dealer in Chiapas was collecting the remaining primitive art of the Lacandon Maya from the rain forest of the same name. Half of that nearly extinct population has converted to evangelical religions, whose leaders told them to destroy their artifacts and art–that is, their culture–because those were pagan objects and would condemn them to hell.
There is a long list of what irritates me about religion, of holy wars of greed waged in the name of religion, of women oppressed by nearly every sect in the world, of young children abused by the leaders of religions, of the disregard of the earth’s natural resources because the end days were near anyhow. It’s not any specific group that I am going after: it’s all of them. The list includes the Bush administration which refused embryonic stem cell research in the name of God, which sought to establish creationism in public schools and the religious leaders who egg them on, those who refuse to allow AIDS preventive condoms or a vaccine for cervical cancer for teenagers because the children might think sex is fun; those who believe that a child is better left an orphan than being adopted into a same sex couple’s home, the civil wars in the middle east over the relatives of the Prophet. And mass media who distract and divide the people from accomplishing real goals for a better world.
The pieces are part of a series called In God’s Name, sometimes using the image of a church tied in knots with pieces from a prayer book in to symbolize the stronghold that the church (temple, mosque, whatever) has on the people supposedly in its care.
Jane Gregorius 2009