A sculpture of a dying Jesus, formed from the contents of vacuum cleaner bags used on a college campus: lint, carpet fibers, dirt, hair, skin cells. That this five foot sculpture was at eye level, arms outstretched, was even more disconcerting. It wasn’t a safe distance, in a church where worshippers could admire it from afar. This one inhabited the end of a fifth floor, well traveled hallway in an academic building near offices, copying machines, and classrooms. Was there even a light shining on it? I don’t remember.
The sculpture was not framed by a cross; it was mounted directly to the wall. The deep gray charcoal colored body had little spikey stuff sticking out, like static had gotten involved. I wanted to reach out and brush it off or smooth it into the surface. I didn’t.
I walked away to look at photographs mounted nearby, but soon returned to the sculpture. I stood a little closer and leaned in carefully to smell. There was no odor, but the dirt memory from my vacuum bags at home filled my nose and coated my skin. (I always wash my hands after I dump it in the garbage.)
I backed away. I felt dirty.
Jesus had taken on His body the detritus of mine. The dirt I had wiped off my shoes. Cotton and wool fiber castoffs. His body had become the fragmented losses of my life. He carries them still.
(“Corpus” by David Hooker, Associate Professor of Art at Wheaton College, is displayed in the Billy Graham Center Museum on the Wheaton College campus, Wheaton, Illinois.) http://www.wheaton.edu/Feature-Stories/The-Art-of-Theology