Work by South Carolina Artists
Thresholds: Expressions of Art & Spiritual Life
Questions of the meaning of religious faith and its place in public life
are critical now. They manifest themselves equally in the international
arena, where extremist versions of religion fuel war and civil conflict,
and within the United States where questions of the proper relationship
of Church and State are constantly being revisited. They are also posed
by the broad and ever increasing embrace of both organized and personal
forms of religion by the American public and by the reemergence of the rhetoric
of good and evil. De Tocqueville argued that America’s devotion to
religion was inseparable from its devotion to equality and democracy. Today,
these relationships have become infinitely more complex than they were during
his 1835 visit to the still youthful United States.
I have been conducting a study of the place of religion in contemporary art. There is a long standing assumption that art and religion, or at least avant garde art and traditional religion, are natural antagonists. Countering this assumption is the long history of mutual influence between the aesthetic and spiritual realms. In recent years, as we have moved further and further from the rigid iconoclasm of the mid 20th century avant garde, this influence has manifested itself in a growing number of artists who draw on their religious backgrounds or spiritual inclinations as a subject matter for art.
About the Curator
Eleanor Heartney is a nationally recognized independent cultural critic and curator from New York. Her writing and curatorial work have focused on national and international issues in contemporary art. A contributing editor for Art in America and Artpress, Heartney has also written articles for ArtNews, New Art Examiner, Washington Post, Sculpture, Contemporania and The New York Times. A former visiting critic with the Rhode Island School of Design, Maryland Institute, Northwestern University, Cornell and Tyler School of Art, among others, she has received the College Art Association’s Frank Jewett Mather Award for Art Criticism. Heartney is the author of a collection of essays, Critical Condition: American Culture at the Crossroads (1997, Cambridge University Press); and Postmodernism (2001, Tate Gallery Publishers and Cambridge University Press). Her next book, Postmodern Heretics: The Catholic Imagination in Contemporary Art was published in February by Midmarch Arts Press.