Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology

Ecce Homo - A Blackfriars Gallery Exhibition

Devotional Expressions of Hardship and Healing in the Americas

This collection of Spanish Colonial and Mexican traditional and folk artwork is comprised of pieces that had been collected over the years by the late Michael Morris, OP.

One of the goals of this exhibit is to explore the question “What is a human person?” through the lens of religious culture and art, proposing answers of a spiritual nature. Drawing upon the exclamation of Pilot to the public after having Jesus scourged, Ecce Homo (“Behold the man”), the exhibition brings forth a fundamental aspect of the human experience – suffering. Whether it is physical, emotional, or spiritual, suffering challenges humanity at its very core.

Why do we suffer? While theology suggests one set of answers, art poses an exploration which requires a mutual engagement between artist and observer – a pathway, as it were to explore the pain of another so as to find the hope which led them forward. Some of the pieces in this exhibit are of a classical nature – portraiture, recognizable religious images, and sacred objects used in Catholic worship. But a significant number of these pieces are invitations to behold suffering itself, personified in Jesus or his mother, Mary. They invite the onlooker to engage not only in the suffering of these individuals, but through them one’s own personal suffering. But faith instructs us that suffering is not the end of this very human story. That the suffering is always aligned to healing. Art offers healing, and these pieces are part of that process, or at least that is the hope.

Three statues in this exhibit form the basis for the title, Ecce Homo! – one depicting Jesus on a donkey, another of Jesus after being scourged, and a third depicting Mary as the Sorrowful Mother. Such statutes were usually created by local artisans who would have had little or no formal training. As such, these three pieces present a window into the passion of Jesus and his Mother as seen and experienced by the local people.

The items in this exhibition belong to DSPT. The exhibit was curated by – Christopher Renz, OP, DSPT Professor and Academic Dean and Margaret Antonoff, DSPT Alumna.

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