AltXmas Art Envisions Holy Family of Color


Kittredge Cherry’s Jesus in Love blog is running a series of artworks that look at the imagery of the Christmas season through the lens of poverty, racial and gender justice. The beautiful and thought-provoking images are accompanied by Kitt’s daily Advent meditations. She’s kindly given me permission to reproduce today’s painting, “The Holy Family” by Janet McKenzie.



Copyright 2007 Janet McKenzie
Collection of Loyola School, New York, NY

About this painting, Kitt writes:


…Sometimes McKenzie’s art sparks controversy. Her androgynous African American “Jesus of the People” painting caused an international uproar after Sister Wendy of PBS chose it to represent Christ in the new millennium in 2000. However, McKenzie says that the responses to “The Holy Family” have been accepting and positive, perhaps because it was commissioned and wholeheartedly supported by the Loyola School in New York.

“As a school run by the Jesuits, it was important to them to have such an image, one that reflects their ethical and inclusive beliefs,” McKenzie explains. “ ‘The Holy Family’ celebrates Mary, Joseph and Jesus as a family of color. I feel as an artist that it is vital to put loving sacred art — art that includes rather than excludes — into the world, in order to remind that we are all created equally and beautifully in God’s likeness. Everyone, especially those traditionally marginalized, needs the comfort derived by finding one’s own image positively reflected back in iconic art. By honoring difference we are ultimately reminded of our inherent similarities.”

The Vermont-based artist had built a successful career painting women who looked like herself, fair and blonde, before her breakthrough with “Jesus of the People.” At that time she wanted to create a truly inclusive image that would touch her nephew, an African American teenager. “The Holy Family” continues the process of embracing everybody in one human family created in God’s image.
Read the full post here.

14 comments on “AltXmas Art Envisions Holy Family of Color

  1. Thank you for spreading the word about our Alternative Christmas Art series. May you experience joy this holiday season.

  2. Christopher says:

    Hi Jendi,

    I’m so glad you commented because I’ve been unable to find you first comment so that I could add you to my blogroll.

    I have found that when unkind comments are made on my blog, I tend to practice precisely the kind of discipline you set for yourself. Though not easy, it’s so much saner.

    Blessed Christmas and Epiphany!

  3. marry says:

    u are are a blasphemous bitch.
    Jesus was not a woman and Jesus was not gay!! all u want is to be accepted by all people and u may be gay yourself. if so repent and come to know Christ as your Savior or u can go to hell. keep going like u are and u will go to hell. and how dare u write such stupid crap about the One u claim to be your savior. if this is the god u worship than it is no god.
    get your crap together woman!!!
    what the hell is wrong with u. the Bible speaks clearly against homosexuality and Jesus was not a woman i think if he was the Bible would have let us know u lunatic bastard! y are also leading many others to hell. their blood will be required at your hand when u stand before GOD then what will u do??? then will your blasphemous pictures save u???? no they will not they will condemn u!!

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