Today's Last Supper Art Print
Who would be around the table if Jesus came in modern day. here's the story behind each character (or most of them): Jesus is depicted as vagabond black man, wearing multiple coats, a hood, a splaying, graying beard, and stained drooping jeans. He holds a hamburger in one hand and a paper cup of soda in the other. He holds them as if offering them both away, the sandwich to the street dog with teats swollen from nursing unseen pups, and the cup to a wizened, deep wrinkled homeless woman. From my experience, when talking to the homeless, their simple faith is often deeper than the long-churched faith of suburban deacons, for example. This woman to the right of Jesus comes with a story. When looking for pictures of a homeless woman to draw I came across a video a man made where he pretended to be blind and asked people if his lottery ticket was a winner. Several rich looking men lied and took the ticket for themselves, but this woman, in a dirty brown tank top and old denim cutoffs who he found loitering in a parking lot saw the $500 winner, informed him, congratulated him, and celebrated the win with him. The dog doesn’t represent one of the disciples but instead reminds us that you may be able to recognize those with a heart like Christ by how they treat those they can get nothing from, like animals. A hungry and needy animal nursing a litter of hungry pups. To the left of the homeless man is a masculine looking woman. Short hair and a traditionally man’s vest compressing a woman’s figure into a more masculine version is meant to show us that this is a subset of believers many may disqualify from faith as well. I want people to think that despite the politics and theology of Homosexuality or gender bending, what is most important is if one desires to serve God. And this finely dressed, cross-gendered woman, being among the needy and traditionally shameful to the church, shows she too has a heart of a disciple. To the right of the homeless woman to the right of Jesus is a prostitute. She is leaning on the homeless woman like often women who share a common affinity do. Both are women of the street. I wanted to show her humanity and softness by how she leaned into, and almost onto her friend. But I wanted to show her scandalous profession by her overflowing tube-top, skirt, and heels. But something has caught her attention at the end of the table, and this is another aspect of her personality which Jesus wanted his apostles to demonstrate. She is looking at the young girl at the far right side of the table who is alone and feeling isolated from the rest. Despite this woman’s struggles, which we do not know the full depth of her circumstances, we can see that she has compassion to care for the suffering of the little ones. Just above her, about to exit the door behind them, is a well dressed man with a tie and bright neutral colored brown suit. I wanted him to look like what we traditionally see as a pastor of a large church with many members. He is looking at the scene and has decided that it isn’t for him. I want him to symbolize Judas who, upon thinking Jesus’ teachings were too hard and worldly wealth more attractive, leaves the Last Supper to do more ecclesiastical things. I want this to look like a pastor we have seen on TV, or of a conservative church in which has traditionally been the safe accepted assumption of where Jesus resides, even though Jesus seems to have spent his time with the needy, poor vagabonds and fishermen during his life. On the far left we have three men who are interacting. The one in the front has a skateboard and a vape stick (modern substitute for smoking). He is leaning over and a tattoo can be seen on his arm. I’ve met some skateboarders who don’t fit the traditional roles of Christians, but they do outreach very well. Tattoos, cigs, and skateboards are stereotypically assumed to be a subset of culture not considered following a “narrow way.” But the ones I have met have felt a calling to witness within that context, and witness they did. Behind him is an overweight, pale McDonalds server proudly offering an ice cream cone to a skinny, very dark, skinned man. I wanted to show that this server, who assumedly isn’t naturally well loved among his coworkers because of his looks, is offering, a possibly unpurchased ice cream cone to the man who has never seen a soft serve cone before. I wanted to show that sometimes the irresponsible thing (giving our employer’s product away for free) in an act of love, is more imperative than its consequences. The skinny dark-skinned man is meant to be a Hatian immigrant. Immigrants are another subset of society who are often under-appreciated by mainstream Christianity, divided perhaps because of their vast differences in looks and cultural habits, as well as misunderstood versions of religion. The open space is purposeful, and the number of disciples is as well. The two people looking forward to the viewer of this piece are Jesus, and the man next to the open spot. I want this to say that Jesus is the one you relate to, the one who is throwing this party, the one who confronts you and says, follow me. But the other man, like any person through whom Jesus may use to call us is the one making a space next to him for us to settle. It is a very earthly man that Jesus is using to invite you and I to participate in this communion. And he does it by saving a chair, and offering us some very delicious, even if scorned by more responsible parts of culture, golden french fries. This man is a cross dressing alcoholic and has tears in his eyes, as if it was the pastor who had left him, leaving the seat open to which he now offers to you. Will you sit next to him?