I was disturbed by the artwork used for the poem “Jesus is Stripped of His Garments” (March 2013), which features Gwyneth Leech’s Stations of the Cross and a depiction of a fair-skinned person surrounded by dark-faced captors. Leech sets her pieces in the midst of contemporary struggles in the Middle East, but the picture tells a very different story when used out of context. Please carefully consider the use of visual imagery with regard to the power of subversive messages about color and racism and our broken history as a nation.
THE EDITORS REPLY: Gwyneth Leech’s Stations of the Cross draw on contemporary photos—the U.S. military torturing prisoners at Abu Ghraib in Iraq, the genocide in Darfur, American soldiers killed in Iraq, and prisoners held at the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay. Art is about context. When viewed through the lens of America’s racial history, Leech’s Stations may prick our own consciences about everything from contemporary events to race in religious art.