Wednesday, August 10, 2016

happen here

An online site about the lectionary, across all denominations, features a different work of art each week, directly or subtly related in some way. The art this week is so — stark comes to mind, severe, not to say horrifying. In the Department of Justice, Washington, DC, mural by artist Symeon Shimin (1902-1984), its name is “Contemporary Justice and Child.”


Sensing a Holocaust connection, I checked the painting’s date (varied 1936 and 1940) and the artist’s bio. From my C5 Humanities course at UF in 1953-54, I remembered the work of José Clemente Orozco and Diego Rivera, and wondered if Symeon Shimin was a political prophet of sorts. 

So maybe to an extent, but not as his life’s work, which was illustrating children’s books. I went on line to amazon.com and ordered three penny used books, “Onion John,” that Shimin illustrated, also “All Except Sammy.” And a book he authored and illustrated, “The Wondrous Works of God.” If enticed and taken with his art for the stories, and if my attention holds, I may order penny copies of “Why People Are Different Colors,” and a book he illustrated for Madeleine L’Engle, “Dance in the Desert.”

Symeon Shimin, the name is Jewish, was born in Russia in 1902 and at age ten emigrated to the US with his parents, who ran a delicatessen. Though mainly self-taught, he studied and worked in Europe in the 1920s and 1930s, including a studio in Paris. On site, he must in some measure have seen the rise of fascism and its horrors. But I think "Contemporary Justice and Child" speaks to what he saw here.

Why this is on mind: fear of how people may vote in November. One way an awful horror developing as the Abomination of Desolation's mocking response to "It can't happen here." The other way nothing changing, threat and fear growing. 


First picture above is the mural. Of the enlarged section with gray faces, nothing need be said. I’m wondering why and how the art's evil and cruelty is matched to the lectionary, unless it’s the alternate Jeremiah lesson’s responsive psalm, an oracle, concluding with a plea; which also is politically timely.

Psalm 82 Deus stetit

1 God takes his stand in the council of heaven; 
he gives judgment in the midst of the gods:
2 "How long will you judge unjustly, 
and show favor to the wicked?
3 Save the weak and the orphan; 
defend the humble and needy;
4 Rescue the weak and the poor; 
deliver them from the power of the wicked.
5 They do not know, neither do they understand;
they go about in darkness; 
all the foundations of the earth are shaken.
6 Now I say to you, 'You are gods, 
and all of you children of the Most High;
7 Nevertheless, you shall die like mortals, 
and fall like any prince.'"
8 Arise, O God, and rule the earth, 
for you shall take all nations for your own.



DThos+ missing something


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