This past week I attended the Types and Shadows exhibit at BYU’s Museum of Art with my American Government and Citizenship class. The images featured in this exhibit were pieces of religious art. Before going to the museum we were able to read a book about the exhibit. In the foreword, Doctor Holzapfel explains that for centuries people have learned about salvation and Christ through pictures and sculptures. This idea was especially important to those people who did not have scriptures because they were able to understand symbols in art. Even now, we live in a very symbolic world and we can find God in very many aspects of art. That idea is highlighted in this exhibit and I found it very interesting.
One of the pieces that I found most intriguing was “Exchange No. 8” by Ron Richmond. This piece shows two chairs and two pieces of cloth. When I first saw the piece I thought of Christ’s robe from a common portrait of Him since the cloths are red and white. I thought this was interesting and immediately connected it to Christ’s sacrifice. The cloths are both laid so delicately and folded with such care. It seems Christ has just taken off the robe and laid its pieces on the chairs.
Another interesting aspect of this painting is that one chair is standing up straight and one is fallen down. I thought this was a great symbol. To me, the fallen chair reminds me that as I human I am in a fallen state. On top of the fallen chair is a red cloth. This reminded me of part of a scripture in Isaiah “ Though your sins be as scarlet…”” and so I put the two ideas together. As humans in a fallen state, we tend to sin. However, as a Latter-day Saint, I try to avoid sin and come out of my fallen state. I strive to follow Christ so that one say I can come out of my fallen state and stand up straight. This then leads into the chair that is standing straight up in a proper position. On top of this chair is a very pristine white cloth. This reminds me of the next part of the same scripture in Isaiah, referring to sins, “…They shall be as white as snow.” I thought this symbolism was amazing. We come from a fallen state with deep sins, and slowly through repentance and the Atonement of Christ we are able to rise up and have our sins forgiven. We are saved through Christ and I think this painting is an amazing symbol of that.
“Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be wool.” (Isaiah 1:18)