“Prayer does not change God, but it changes him who prays.” - Anon
Panel 6 out of 6:
Man of Faith – “Rename Me as Stranger”
“Rename Us as Strangers”
2018 mixed media on canvas
200 x 90 cm - Panel
200 x 180 cm - Diptych
by Angel Correa
Six solemn figures stand in solidarity, robed in the ceremonial garments which remind us of the limited embrace of those who belong to a faith community.
Each figure is a representation of the proponents of the top six ‘organised religions’ and their core beliefs.
Situated alongside them are couples who were not able express their love and commitment in the manner taken for granted by others who share their faith.
A passage from the writings of author Dan B Allender offers a sense of how this might have felt:
“In every story, in every life, there are moments of death that take away our name and rename us as strangers, orphans or widows. At the moment of being unnamed, we are thrown into our story.”
Despite their disappointment at one of life’s ‘moment of death’, each couple is depicted with a brightness of colour which is intended to jump off the canvas with jubilation and joy.
In all instances, the floral pattern is the same as that which embroiders, like a halo or aura, the ceremonial garments worn by each happy couple’s corresponding faith-representative.
The flowers themselves refer to a Latin-American custom, in which women typically wear garments printed with brightly-coloured flowers to commemorate an array of celebratory life-events.
The union itself, however, never earns its rightful place in the catalogue of shared narratives and personal histories. The couples are depicted without feet because, in reality, there is ‘nowhere to stand’ in terms of being blessed explicitly by their community.
Most of these couples also lack hands, and this is intended as a reference to Michelangelo’s depiction of ‘Dextera Domini’ (the right-hand of God) in his sculptures and frescoes. In the Bible, one of my books of faith, to be ‘at the right side of God’ is to be identified as occupying a special place of honour.
These couples, despite the joy of being recognised by law, have been denied the ‘special place of honour’ which others before them took for granted. Under what circumstances is a community encouraged to ‘rename as strangers’ its brothers, sisters and friends?
Like a blindfolded child at play, it will have proved necessary for them to orient themselves around various fixed-versus-fluid boundaries. That is why each of these celebrating couples is, ultimately, shrouded in darkness.
As a man of deep faith, I remain intrigued by the complex ways in which religion can be deployed to influence social conventions and – ultimately – the precepts which shape the practicalities of daily life.