Sunday, December 09, 2007

Advent: the re-uniting with the Prodigal Son

Mary McCleary
Prodigal Son, 1996
Mixed Media Collage on paper, 60 x 83 x 5 in.
Collection of Ellen Tuchman and Harry Orenstein, Dallas, Texas

In Mary McCleary's retelling of Jesus's parable of the prodigal son, the feast that celebrates the prodigal's return becomes a Texas-style family barbeque.

Seventeen figures fill the large image.

A couple dances as a man plays the fiddle. Women bring platters of fruit and pour lemonade. One young boy takes a forbidden sip of beer.

The father, a middle-aged rancher with an ample belly, looks lovingly at his newly returned son, decked out for the occasion in a pink sequined cowboy shirt.

The disconsolate elder son looks on from the background.

Unlike some modern religious art, it does not descend into kitsch

1 comment:

  1. I agree that it doesn't descend into kitsch, but in order to be affective it must cause us to not only revisit the story, but see it anew. This painting achieves this by the contemporary ranch context. We understand the intensity of the relationship between father and son and the son's fervor to win back an already loving heart.