28"h x 54"l x 11"w; bronze, steel & walnut; 1991
Photo by Jerome Hart
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One of the most human of all behaviors is the concept of spirituality. We bury our dead in all manner of ceremony, and in many cultures, with valuable treasure. We contemplate the vastness of our passing with a new beginning. We develop alters upon which we submit to the powers we don’t understand, and to our knowledge, there is no other animal that shares this trait. In my piece, “Offerings”, I am contemplating the various ways in which we worship. It is a fascinating detail of human behavior.
In this piece I have constructed an alter, of no particular implied origin. Its existence is on the backs of laborers, but obviously not for them. Its sacrifice is at the expense of nature. The fact that this alter is fictional is not unique, as all of our alters and offerings are human constructs based on beliefs that are shared widely within a group, but completely foreign to outsiders. We don’t understand or acknowledge the worship or the deities of others, and even within a larger umbrella of faith, are often combative on the particulars of the beliefs between subgroups. While we war between factions, in the process, we violate many, if not most tenets of the faiths we are fighting to represent. We harm all manner of things during these conflicts, ripping and tearing at the Earth, its creatures, and its resources.
The Earth bears scars of holy war from one end to the other, while those who beat the drum for these conflicts almost never bear the consequences on the front lines. In a just social order, those who instigate the conflict should do the battle, but with the closing of the last century and the first decades of this one, when we might expect to be at our most civilized point in history, we see that in raw numbers, we’ve endured more carnage and grief than in any prior century. While we come to blows over the “superstitions” of others, we continue to hold our own spiritual beliefs sacred, without acknowledging the hypocrisy.
To me, holding something as “sacred” is fine. We can worship whatever we like, but violence on the Earth, or its creatures, in the name of holy war, is not only bad behavior, it is deeply immoral, and should be left to the junk heap of time.