In western society, the most common depiction that Jesus Christ is of a white man with lengthy brown hair and also a beard. Every one of us have seen this picture somewhere—perhaps in church, at a relative’s house, or in a Bible. One might assert, however, the this white, male image of Jesus, can make particular groups of people feel disconnected indigenous Jesus.

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In 1999, Janet McKenzie, an artist indigenous Essex County, VT heard around the Jesus 2000 competition placed on through the national Catholic Reporter’s Commission. This challenge aimed to lure pieces that art portraying a new “Jesus for the millennium” ( McKenzie’s piece, “Jesus the the People,” illustrating an African-American Jesus, winner the competition.

The judge, sister Wendy Beckett of PBS, said of the piece, “This is a haunting image of a peasant Jesus – dark, thick-lipped, looking out on us through ineffable dignity, through sadness however with confidence. Over His white robe that draws the darkness that our absence of love, hold it to Himself, all set to transform every sorrows if we will let Him” (

prior to creating this piece, lot of McKenzie’s occupational was focused on imagery the women and African Americans—groups she feels room underrepresented in art and in our world. After ~ hearing about the Jesus 2000 contest, McKenzie intended to do her image of Jesus in solemn event of she nephew, who is a person of color, so the he might be able to see self in Jesus. McKenzie additionally opted to use a female design to offer Jesus a more feminine, soft appearance so that possibly women would also be able to attach with the photo as well. She feels the these two groups are often generally left out as soon as it comes to representations the Jesus. One of her objectives with this piece was to show that “Jesus is in all of us” (


McKenzie says that she did not intend this painting to reason controversy. Instead, she hope to be that more people would certainly be may be to attach with Jesus ~ above a different level. McKenzie herself claims to it is in a “devout agnostic,” but says the the paint is “about love” (Laredo Morning Times).

The first thing ns noticed about this item when very first coming across it was the Jesus was depicted as black. This is one incredibly evident observation, however, that is something the is not regularly seen in depictions of Jesus. Upon further inspection that the piece, i noticed a few things that I had actually never watched in picture of Jesus before: A feather and a yin-yang symbol.

as I researched the meaning behind these symbols, i came across McKenzie’s explanation. The yin-yang prize not just incorporates another culture into the painting, it also symbolizes “perfect harmony.” The gloriole behind Jesus’ head (that we perform see in many other paintings) represents “Jesus’ holiness.” The feather alongside Jesus incorporates yet another society into the paint (Native American), but also represents “transcendent knowledge” ( The pink in the background signifies femininity, but additionally signifies the shade of blood (

These definitions are certainly peripheral. At an initial glance, one might not notification just how plenty of different kinds of people are stood for in this painting. these symbols assist to further McKenzie’s goal in making world feel the “Jesus is in all of us” and to incorporate as many cultures as possible. As I have mentioned, the cultures of women, african American, indigenous American, and Asians space all contained in this work.

This painting seems to no necessarily it is in a retelling of biblical text, but more of a reinterpretation that what Jesus may have actually looked like. The artist is yes, really trying to convey the Jesus can essentially be everything we want him come be. She claims on her website that she is no trying to replace any type of existing photos of Jesus, she just wants to add this one “in addition to” the others, for this reason that world who might feel disconnected come Jesus have actually a means to connect and can “see us in him” (

This piece certainly brings a new cultural perspective to Jesus, as I have mentioned throughout this analysis. This Jesus plainly strays from the white, masculine norm and also goes toward a multicultural depiction the many an ext people can attach to. McKenzie is really daunting what we expropriate in western society as truth, and with this painting, tries to show that Jesus could have been any color, sex, or culture. What she is yes, really trying to get at is the Jesus need to symbolize love and acceptance, so the everyone can identify with Jesus, not simply white men. As she says, “all the us need to be celebrated in the photos of Jesus…” (

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Much that McKenzie’s various other works encompass women and also multiracial holy families. For example, McKenzie has actually one piece depicting the “three wise women” and other pieces that depict the holy household as African, Asian, Caucasian, and also Indian. She intends to allow, “all world to discover themselves celebrated.” She has received some hate mail because that “Jesus that the People,” but much an ext mail supporting it.