Magazine article U.S. Catholic

Picturing the End: The Artistic Visions of So-Called "Outsider Artists" Offer an Invitation to Imagine Creation's Final Destination

Magazine article U.S. Catholic

Picturing the End: The Artistic Visions of So-Called "Outsider Artists" Offer an Invitation to Imagine Creation's Final Destination

Article excerpt

The sprawling exhibition HEAVEN+HELL, a joint project of two Chicago museums, the Loyola University Museum of Art (LUMA) and intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art, uses the works of self-taught artists to explore familiar, complex, and even surprising terrain. The exhibition's curators, Jan Petry of Intuit and Molly Tarbell of LUMA, selected "intuitive and outsider art," which Intuit describes as the "work of artists who demonstrate little influence from the mainstream art world and who instead are motivated by their unique personal visions."

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In his book What Are They Saying About the End of the World? (Paulist), Franciscan priest Zachary Hayes notes that "the central Christian metaphor for the end of history is the parousia or the second coming of Christ. Around this center is a cluster of related themes: judgment, resurrection of the dead, heaven and hell, the kingdom, the new heaven and the new earth."

Hayes makes the concept sound neat and precise, but the various denominational and cultural languages of HEAVEN+HELL's artists add their own nuances and emphases to these artistic depictions of the endtime. Drawing upon their personal visions and faith perspectives, their own investigations and theories, and biblical and religious traditions, the artists strive to imagine where the world is going and what will come to pass. Predictably, the gathered collection reflects a multiplicity of ideas.

Works such as Sister Gertrude Morgan's Lord Put Another Fuse in My Soul (left) use the vocabulary at hand--in this case modes of transportation--to speak of going to another, often better place, while acknowledging both the less attractive alternatives and the hardships along the way. A few works in this exhibition express hopelessness, but most express trust in the one who promises to "make all things new" (Rev. …

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