Saturday, June 10, 2006

Angelic lesbian

Nude Angel

Why don't angels have genitals--male or female--or sexuality: straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual? I suppose the traditional Christian viewpoint, which divides sexuality from spirituality by promoting the idea of a celibate Christ and cloistered nuns and priests, offers a main reason for the absence of angelic physicality and an asexuality. So I'm exploring the idea with a new body of artwork on nude and sexual angels.

Mind you, I haven't investigated fully the entire art history of angels nor will I, so I can't say absolutely that someone hasn't offered us a sexual angel. In terms of mainstream imagery, I can't think of a one. I have found tales, for example, about angels such as Azael who fathered Assyrian guardian angels. Of course, what I'm endeavoring to complete artistically will diverge from the traditional angelic iconography that most people gravitate toward. A poll of BeliefNet users demonstrated favorite angels with the usual female or androgynous cherubic look most of us are accustomed to seeing as you can examine in the last three pictures of this post. But they hardly hint at a sexual narrative. In breaking from tradition, I want to explore the full spectrum--male, female, heterosexuality, gay, lesbian and who knows? Maybe an intersex or transgender angel as well. Why not? Religious beliefs are mythological by nature. In my belief system, there's a guardian angel for everybody.

Still untitled, my first drawing that I'll paint as an oil, a lesbian angel at the top (click for a larger image here), reminds me of descriptions I've read of Anahita because of the setting; a she-angel of "high rank," Anahita was "the immaculate one, genius of fertilizing water and the fruitfulness of the earth." I also think of hunter goddess, Diana. I hope, however, to push the envelop by introducing more contemporary angelic imagery that will reflect the sacred breadth of loving relationships.

Angels are a pop culture craze having had a long tradition in artworks advanced prominently since the Age of the Renaissance. Nearly 75,000 book titles on guardian angels popped up during an Amazon book search this morning. A prolific subject, bigger than books on basketball! Maybe I'll strike a popular chord with my angel artwork series... though I'm certain to offend some people. Maybe not so bad. The DaVinci Code has enjoyed tremendous success with its theoretical presumption that Jesus married Miriam of Magdala and reproduced a Holy Grail bloodline resulting from a divinely sexual relationship. Granted, visuals may create a more dynamic response than mere words on paper, but The DaVinci Code movie's box office receipts tell me there's an audience for religious concepts that offer more earthy narratives albeit within the framing of a traditional marriage. As an artist in the 21st century, I plan to address the majority as well as minority sexuality.

Another interesting idea and not necessarily sexual is to incorporate a personality, say a specific person into an angelic painting, to see if Jung's statement about the psychological mechanism for transformation being the symbol--a personal visual reference--would yield a positive effect on the model. In other words, would a painting of a real person rendered as an angel impact the person in an uplifting manner? Interesting experiment... Angelic portraits. We'll see.