The Cross As/In Art

The cross seems to be everywhere in society. People, be they Christian or not, often wear it as a pendant around their neck. This includes everyone from movie stars to rock stars to regular people. Others tattoo it upon their bodies. Baseball players make the sign of the cross when they step up to the plate. Many more examples abound.

Moreover the cross has been artistically designed in myriad ways down through history. One need only think of the Jerusalem cross or the Celtic cross or the crucifix with the body of Christ upon it or the cross without the body of Christ, or the cross with Christ as the suffering servant or the cross with Christ the king.

In a culture where regular church attendance continues to decline, the cross continues to be embraced as a symbol that inspires and perhaps serves for some as a symbol of their spirituality (defined as “the awareness of and perceived relationship to a self-transcendent reality” —Dr. Tony Cook). Yet, for some it may carry no meaning at all. In any event, it is hard not to see the cross as an undeniably Christian symbol.

As such, it may provide an opportunity for opening up conversation with those who have little to no connection with the church. The theme for our Theological Symposium this year (Sept. 18-19), “The Cross Alone is our Theology,” offers us the opportunity to do something new that explores ways by which the Gospel is expressed within the visual arts…beginning with the cross but expanding to embrace the entire biblical narrative, where the cross becomes more than simply an artistic symbol, but a theology woven into many works of art.

And so this year at Symposium, we will feature our first art exhibition in the newly renovated Kristine Kay Hasse Memorial Library! It will feature submissions by Christian artists from around the country. St. Louis artist, Sarah Bernhardt, is curating the exhibition for the Symposium. Sarah, with her husband Bob (pastor at Holy Cross Lutheran in south St. Louis) founded Intersect Arts Center as an urban studio and educational outreach to young people within their community.

Here’s just a couple of the pieces already accepted: