The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill recently hosted an art exhibition, “Identity Revealed: Message and Meaning in Contemporary Art.” Held at the Ackland Art Museum, the exhibition included the work of Duane Michals. One of his contributions was entitled, “Christ in New York, No. 2: Christ Sees a Woman who has Died During an Illegal Abortion, 1982.”
“Christ in New York” is a photograph of a bearded men with a halo standing over a woman who is stretched out on a table, presumably following a self-induced abortion. His work is described as “a commentary on the inhumanity that persists as well as the violent consequences of religious hypocrisy.” We also learn that “As a meditation of the political and social oppressions that characterize contemporary life, Michals’ work reflects his own early Catholic upbringing and subsequent interest in Buddhism.”
It would be interesting to know how many ex-Catholics have opted for Buddhism. At any rate, we do know that Michals now joins a long line of adult ex-Catholics who continue to live in the past, always gnawing at the bit over their horrendous experience of growing up Catholic. Maybe someday Michals will grow up, but we doubt it. He has too much riding on his adolescent rage to do so.
Our complaint was registered not with Michals (that wouldn’t get us anywhere) but with Barbara Matilsky, Curator of Exhibitions at the Ackland Art Museum on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. We told her we know all about her First Amendment right to show this art, but we also informed her of her responsibilities as a curator. You can contact her at the museum on the campus. The zip is 27599.