Equality is known as the state of being equal, however as it is well known there is a lot of controversy about equality between races and between sexes. Becki Jayne Harrelson has been challenging mainstream religious beliefs with her artwork for over a decade. Her main emphasis is based on the issues between politics and religion, including gay marriage, racial equality and equality between men and women. These topics by many religions are seen as controversial and those religions defend for or against them depending on the way they view the context of the bible. Becki Jayne is a very liberal artist who likes to portray a left-wing based opinion in her paintings with the hope that she will reach out to the religious community in a way that demonstrates what she sees as truth in the bible. The painting that I have chosen is called, “The Resurrection.” It portrays Jesus at his resurrection being awakened by Mary his mother. The controversial points of this portrait are Jesus as a black man and Mary as a white woman, the area around Mary is white and it is darker around Jesus as if Mary is being resurrected or is an angel, and how it conflicts with the way that the resurrection is portrayed in the bible.
In this portrait Jesus is portrayed as a black man and Mary as a white woman. This can be controversial because if Mary is white, why is her child black? Also, Jesus must have been white because when there is discussion of slavery in the bible, Jesus is not categorized with the slaves right? Becki Jayne is trying to throw the audience for a loop with this painting. She is a strong advocate for equality between the different races and takes two of the most important people in the story of Jesus and changes their race from what we are used to in mainstream Christianity. Becki Jayne takes it further and paints the more important of the two figures (Jesus) the black one, the one who in the past has been suppressed as if the black person had to be greater than the white person in order to make the races completely equal. Mary is also pulling Jesus up from the ground as if he must follow her way to get to the “light” of the world, which is also another parallel between the ways whites are viewed in our society, the leaders. Becky Jayne wanted to portray equality and how we are moving towards a balanced life in the world. Her wish is that there would be equality between the races and that equality will come from the love of God. She is saying blacks are capable of being powerful people and whites are capable of embracing them and we are better at moving to the love of Christ together.
The difference between man and woman is the main point of this picture and that we have in the past always known that the man is the head of the house and the wife is to be submissive to him from a bible-based view. “22Wives submit to your husbands as to the Lord. 23For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything” (Ephesians 5:22-24 NLT). Biblically speaking this is what a Christian is more than likely taught, submit to your husband, let him control all things. Therefore to see Mary the mother of Jesus painted into such a large event, nonetheless waking Jesus up and having him follow her to his resurrection which is the most important part of Jesus’ life in controversial. A woman, Mary, is leading a man, Jesus, to something greater than any of us could ever explain, heaven. There is another form of equality going on with the feature of the man and the woman. The man has always been the power house and the women have never had a say, but Becki Jayne wants to portray that times are finally changing. She says, “In this way, the feminine aspect of God in joint leadership with diving masculinity brings the Christ consciousness back into the physical world” (BeckiJayne.com). She is saying there has to be a mix of equality between men and woman in order to be the best to our ability as a world. When Christ is unconscious he is in the darkness, as he sits up he is moving toward the light, the light of the woman who is divine and the loving and guiding light in Jesus’ life. Becki Jayne wants this to be the future, this is her view. Regardless of the fact that churches are dividing because of the very issues of women involvement, African American involvement and having men and woman exactly equal, Becki Jayne wants this to be the way that the world moves forward. That is her wish, that there is equality for every type of “crucified” group that has ever struggled for equality. She paints about a lot of subjective debates in the bible where they are seen to be open to interpretation, but this is the view that she believes God want us to portray. Through her art she acts as an activist for equality of humans, but also as an activist for God.
The resurrection in the bible is portrayed as this, “When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus' body. Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, "Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?" But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed” (Mark 16: 1-5). In this painting, Mary is there as if she is waking Jesus up from his death and it conflicts with the story of the bible. There was no way for the physical body of Mary to actually get into the tomb to wake Jesus up from his death, but I think Becki Jayne is trying to make a biblical interpretation. The way that you could make this painting not conflict with the scripture is by making Mary the mother of Jesus be the Holy Spirit and then would have the Holy Spirit be what Jesus is depending upon and what leads him to his resurrection.
Through Becki Jayne’s paintings she is anticipating the future for humans, as we are moving to a more balanced equality in our different backgrounds and cultures. She wants to portray change in society through her art by tackling all of the things that are hush-hush in many Christian religions. Many denominations do not want to even acknowledge the fact that gay-marriage is happening and women are rising up the corporate ladder. She depicts the issues that can be debated on the issue because of the context in the bible, which are all the politically controversial parts of scripture. Some critics of her artwork have deemed her to be sacrilegious or blasphemous with the way she is taking a stand again organized religion, but she feels it is in a way that Jesus was as well when he blasted away the stereotypes of his day. With her art Becki Jayne wants to spark something in people’s minds that will hit them down deep and them bring them to change their view in their outwardly lives. She states that “humanity is undergoing a philosophical transformation, what some would call a spiritual war” (beckijayne.com). There has to be a change that takes place and motivates everyone to go toward the views of equality of race, marriage and sex and she wants to implement it. Becki Jayne also believes that “through love, new life begins. Every day, we are resurrected to live our dreams and individual expressions by an everlasting love that gives us the courage to fulfill our life’s purpose” (beckijayne.com). Becki Jayne does have that point right, when you are inspired you have the spirit of God in you, and as Becki Jayne is definitely inspired in her art and wants to inspire the viewers to look deeper than just the surface of her paintings, they are not just about race, homosexual marriage and equality, but love, empathy for others and will hopefully lead to a resurrection on earth.
Artist Becki Jayne fine art home page. Web. 22 Feb. 2010.
"The Resurrection oil painting." Artist Becki Jayne fine art home page. Web. 22 Feb. 2010.