Dusting Off ‘Christa’

Kripaks/Wikimedia Commons

The Cathedral of St. John the Divine will again welcome Christa, the sculpture by Edwina Sandys that depicts Christ as a woman. The cathedral first displayed Christa, which Sandys completed in 1975, during Holy Week of 1984.

This year and into March 2017, 21 other contemporary artists will join Sandys for The Christa Project: Manifesting Divine Bodies, which opens Oct. 6 at the cathedral.

The sculptor’s website quotes the Very Rev. James Park Morton, former dean of the cathedral, as saying: “Christa simply reminded viewers that women as well as men are called upon to share the suffering of Christ.”

The message has expanded considerably since 1984, as described by the cathedral’s website:

Conversations about the politics of identity have changed tremendously since the 1980s. Christa’s essential statement, however, remains vital to our world today: people are hungry to see themselves and each other fully represented in society, especially in its most powerful and iconic institutions. In turn, the Cathedral is thrilled to display Christa once again, alongside works by 21 other contemporary artists, all exploring the language, symbolism, art, and ritual associated with the historic concept of the Christ image and the divine as manifested in every person — across all genders, races, ethnicities, sexual orientations, and abilities.

Eiko Otake, of the acclaimed performance artists Eiko & Koma, has been appointed Artist in Residence and co-curator. Eiko will choreograph a series of performances, sometimes in collaboration with poets and musicians. This series of events will explore in movement, word, and music the urgent themes underlying the exhibition. Hannah Wolfe Eisner, a student at Wesleyan University who joined the Cathedral as an intern in 2015 and devoted her intellect, time and passion to the exhibition, is the in-house co-curator.

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