Laguna Art Museum began working on 100 Artists See God in the spring of 2002. The date is significant: it was six months after the attack on the World Trade Center in New York. At the time, the media were full of stories about god. Books about god were on the bestseller list. God was everywhere. Yet artists were uncharacteristically silent, and that peculiarity suggested the question that this exhibition explores: how do contemporary artists see god? We decided to ask them.
We invited the artists in this exhibition to provide an artwork that in some way deals with the concept of god. The artists selected are purposefully diverse, representing a broad range of ages, degrees of recognition, and approaches to artmaking. Living in eleven different countries, they are also diverse in geographic origin, but that said, a fair number of them come from California, as do we.
We tried not to have too many preconceptions, except maybe one: we assumed the show would be not so much about belief as about representation. When we asked artists how they see god we were asking them how they might represent god. Whether or not they were religious didn’t figure in; we wouldn’t, and didn’t, dare ask. In some cases the works that resulted are connected to the artists’ beliefs; in many cases they are not.
The exhibition was divided into sixteen categories, to give the viewer a vantage point from which to begin to look at the individual artworks. These areas of focus reflect similarities we found in the way the artists approached the question. They should be read as responses to the art on display, rather than explanations of it.
The premise of the show was that we all live in a world that is profoundly influenced by concepts of god. Those concepts come to us in part through representation. Art pictures god and that picture is persuasive.
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