A few years ago, when I was researching a story
in Veracruz, Mexico, the proprietor of a small cantina and I struck up a
conversation. When talk turned to religion, Señor Gonzalez shyly asked if I
would like to see one of his most highly prized treasures.
The New Mexican artist Vicente Telles stands in a line of Southwest religious workers going back to the 1700s. He mixes classic and contemporary understandings comfortably, working with nontraditional forms—such as painting an image of St. Christopher carrying the Christ child as a comic book cover or an image of Jesus the King in a mirrorlike meeting, as on a set of poker cards. Despite his whimsy, each work is punctuated by surprising reverence. The dynamic combination of faithfulness to convention and experimentation with materials can be seen in Telles's signature piece The Last Supper. The table scene is treated within a larger theological tradition. Yet rather than working on wood, as is customary, Telles paints on cold-rolled steel. A water-based patina creates a light acid effect on the steel (shown in the detail), and through chemical reaction the effect is reminiscent of early frescoes.
VATICAN CITY (RNS) Several days after the Vatican's official
newspaper reported that characters Homer and Bart Simpson are Catholic,
the source of that supposed discovery has distanced himself from the
Gun metal gray the sky this morning and along the shore at dead low tide an on-shore wind blows spume across the wave tops. Rain before dark, they say, and even some late snow to dash our dawning dreams of green and blossoming. Undaunted, a new pair of mallards— splendid headed male and female—inaugurate the new-thawed pool beside the dog run of our ocean-front retirement home. Silent, they move across, now venturing among the reeds to break their long migrating fast, and seek a secure nesting place to lay the future. Blessing their ancient quest, I call to mind one week ago, on this same daybreak dog walk, I was surprised, almost alarmed, by one great, stately snow white egret, with his mate, also foraging among the weeds, as the larger of them rose, spread his quite angelic wings, and wafted a bright unexpected blessing to my aging head, as he moved on in search of richer waters.
When Toni Morrison taught creative writing at Princeton University, all her students had been told in previous classes to write about what they knew. She said to forget that advice because first, they didn’t know anything yet, and two, she didn’t want to read about their experiences. She told them to imagine people outside their own experience, such as a Mexican waitress in Rio Grande who could barely speak English. It was amazing what these students came up with, Morrison said, when they were given license to imagine something outside their realm of experience (American Theatre, March 10).