Issue 44 explores the complicated, profound, and often uneasy relationship between public art and the spiritual life. Eleanor Heartney examines some recent controversies over religious imagery in public projects in America and Europe, and discovers that the culture wars have entered a new phase. Four prominent artists: Ned Kahn, Lily Yeh, Tyree Guyton, and Agnes Denes, tell Arlene Goldbard how their spiritual lives inform their work and their sense of themselves. Jon Spayde profiles two young artists, one Christian, one Muslim, who embrace traditional religions but work in iconoclastic, irreverent styles: conceptualism and graffiti. And Suzi Gablik makes some recommendations for turning down the heat that religious differences generate in a rapidly globalizing world.
The Featured Region for Issue 44 is Southern California, and we present three reports from the field in Brazil, San José, and Germany. Conference reports from North Carolina, New York, and Winnipeg, along with recent publications, book reviews, news, and recent projects round out the issue.
On the cover: British artist Mohammed Ali painted Writing on the Wall (2010) on the walls of the Birmingham Repertory Theatre in front of a live audience. With the guidance of hip-hop producer Jonzi D, Ali painted while three poets performed. The mural, a closeup of which is shown here, was inspired by the theme of three: “birth, life, and death” and “peace, love, and unity.” The words peace, love, and unity are written in both Arabic and English. Photo by Salshan Photography. See Cool and Deep: Dylan Mortimer + Mohammed Ali by Jon Spayde.