Let’s talk about race.
Let’s talk about values.
Let’s talk about controversies.
Let’s talk about Harding University’s current exhibit in the Steven’s Art Gallery during Homecoming weekend.
Artist Tre Wilkes, a Harding University alumnus, is displaying his art with his “Through Colored Lines” tour — and it’s making people uncomfortable.
My friends and I recently walked through the exhibit. We took in the bright shades of red contrasting with the images of black people. We correlated the paintings of white police officers and dead black men with the racial shootings across the country. We understood the symbolism of the black crow. We sympathized with the painting of a black man holding the head of a black woman, the artist’s expression after hearing about his sister being killed from a black-on-black shooting.
But not everyone did.
As we were walking out of the exhibit, a man approached us asking for the professor in charge. He came close and told us the exhibit was “the most unchristian thing” and that it was “offensive.”
Excuse me, sir, did you read the background information displayed at the entrance to the room. Did you read the plaques with the paintings? Did try to understand the meaning of the paintings? The artist expressed his side of the black v. white issues, is that wrong?
Or are you just uncomfortable with something greater than yourself?
Now, I didn’t say any of these things. I was too shocked at his ignorant audacity, and I think he later realized his reaction was over exaggerated because he apologized to us afterwards.
My question is, how often do we ignorantly react to such situations, especially as Christians? Jesus did not come to make people happy. Jesus did not come to please people or express an easy Christian life. He came to stir up society and make people uncomfortable.
The Pharisees wanted Jesus killed because he made them uncomfortable. He didn’t act according to social norms (Luke 7:39, Matt. 11:19). He was a threat to their religious system and pointed out flaws (John 2:13-17). His actions made them uncomfortable (Matthew 12:23-24). And, Jesus pointed out that the Pharisees sacrificed following God for their comfort (Matt. 15).
I’m not a an expert on the Bible, but I can’t find anything “unchristian” about this exhibit. However, I can tell you that Jesus promotes uncomfortable discussion. He started them. (Luke 12:49-53, John 8:1-11, Matt. 7:3, Matt. 12:48, John 4).
I am proud to be at a university that is displaying this exhibit. Let’s help this predominately white, conservative Christian school be aware of the issues outside of this Harding bubble. Let’s stir up discussion and direct it towards action. Let this be a wake-up call to our call as Christians to “go out into all the world.”
Let’s listen, understand and empathize. Let’ serve, share and take action. Let’s love.