Art has always had a place in churches. The eye and imagination presenting and interpreting beauty is an act of devotion. Art exhibitions span centuries, celebrating the creativity of 17th century weavers to modern painters and everything in between.
Aljoscha: The Miraculous DraughtOpened February 26, 2020
Inspired by the well known parable in the Gospel of John, Ukrainian-born artist Aljoscha assembles 153 compounded, almost weightless, self-contained sculptures in the form of a large biofuturistic organism, seemingly kept afloat from the ceiling of the Nave by an inner impulse.
In his drawings, sculptures, and installations, Aljoscha addresses topics such as biology and the theory of life, as well as bioism, which serves as a utopian model for new forms of life or living beings, but also with the great philosophical and scientific questions about life itself. He says, “I regard art as one of the highest human activities. For me, it represents a philosophy, perhaps even a religion. In this sense, I try to create an aesthetic utopia.”
Neal Slavin: BELIEFOpened Spring 2020
In The Prayer Project, photographer Neal Slavinexplores the fundamental need of people to gather together and connect spiritually in order to face things beyond their understanding. Slavin has depicted such occasions in many ways and in mostly sacred spaces, photographing different prayer styles and customs around New York City. His interest is in the private spiritual experience captured on each face in a crowd of hundreds or even thousands, that moment of personal transcendence that can only be accessed as part of a larger community.
Where Do We Go From Here?Ongoing
This is the question posed in the first billboard of the public art project at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, running along 110th Street between Amsterdam and Morningside Avenues. Set against the backdrop of a border fence, the billboard, by artist Eric Gottesman, asks the viewer to place themselves in the position of a migrant. It also asks us to consider where we are going together as a nation, and where divisive political language about immigration is leading us.
Produced by For Freedoms and Magnum Foundation and featuring contributions by Gottesman, Hank Willis Thomas, Ronald Rael and Virginia San Fratelo, Paola Mendoza and Kisha Bari, Cinthya Santos-Briones, Susan Meiselas, and Christopher Myers, the outdoor installation along 110th Street was originally curated as part of The Value of Sanctuary: Building a House Without Walls, a 2019 exhibition and public program initiative at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine exploring how personhood and community cohesion speak to and are formed by notions of dignity, inclusion and exclusion. The outdoor works will remain on view through 2020.
Channels of Grace: Selected Icons from the CathedralOngoing
This exhibition from the Cathedral’s permanent collection highlights icons, which reflect the connectedness of the earth, human beings, and God through their materials and style. Since the sixth century A.D., from when the oldest known icons date, a continuum of style has enabled and empowered the icon to serve as a channel of divine grace and conduit for devotion. Like close translations of original texts, icons are based on a primary prototype. Unlike other forms of devotional art, icons are made to adhere as closely as possible to the prototype, from which they derive their power. Centuries of good copying have led to the highly specific, recognizable style associated with icons. Distinct blocks of color, saturated pigments, and gold leaf detailing are among the stylistic elements that make icons pop and shimmer, but their significance transcends beauty.
Treasures from the CryptOn Pause
The Treasury of the Cathedral is comprised of an array of ecclesiastical items given to the Cathedral over the past 125 years. It includes many precious items, ranging from a Mexican chalice from the mid-17thcentury, to a Restoration two-handled cup from 1660, to an alms basin given to the Cathedral by King George V. These rarely-seen objects are part of the physical and spiritual heritage of the Cathedral. They are included in worship services, baptisms, and investitures: sacred events that mark the passage of the liturgical year and moments of great personal and spiritual importance.
The donors of some of the objects on view include members of the royal family of England, as well as the descendants of Peter Stuyvesant, the Dutch director-general of New Netherland from 1647 until 1664 when it was renamed New York. The pieces here tell a story of community: from the origins of the Anglican Church, through the founding of the City of New York, and the chartering of this Cathedral, intended as a house of prayer for all people.
The Cathedral has a long history of presenting exhibitions, from meditative to challenging, historical to contemporary. Browse a recent sampling.