Jesus candles, submitted by Bo Bartlett

Today, we present all the submissions to our first (and perhaps only) Draw Jesus Day.

People have wondered aloud on Twitter, this blogazine, and elsewhere if the intention of this event, which coincides with British and Canadian celebrations of Boxing Day, was merely to be provocative. While that’s a fair question, instead of waiting for the results or an answer, they seem to have already devised their own answer, and that’s their right.

Draw Jesus Day is a response to some right-wing Christians who are trying to dictate how the rest of us should interpret or represent Jesus Christ and who gets to decide that in a public context. The recent censorship of David Wojnarowicz’s “A Fire In My Belly” at the National Portrait Gallery Hide/Seek exhibition is an example of what can happen when censorship creeps into institutions that should be open to new ideas and discussion.

We have already seen how some fundamentalist Muslims drastically overreacted to a similar attempt to celebrate the freedom to draw Mohammad, and it is important that we all fight to ensure that our freedoms against tyranny (religious or otherwise) are safeguarded. It is a fight we must engage in whenever necessary.

The over two dozen entries we’ve received demonstrate that people’s interpretations of the Christian son of God, Jesus Christ, are very diverse. Some appear devotional and religious, while others portray a friendly Jesus more akin to something you might find in children’s cartoons. There are representations of Jesus as an abstraction or sexual being, while still others use him as a way to critique corporations or ridicule right-wing portrayals. There are as many interpretations of Jesus as there are people.

When we created Draw Jesus Day we weren’t sure what to expect but we knew it was an important thing to do. Symbolic figures like Jesus are constantly evolving and we were fascinated to see how the readers and friends of Hyperallergic reacted to our artistic challenge.

Artist Bo Bartlett, whose haunting representation of Jesus as a woman in “Mary, Jesus and Joseph” (1990), recently posted a thought-provoking comment on the original “Draw Jesus Day” announcement. He reminds us that these types of events are as important to an artist’s practice as any technique. We reproduced a large passage of his comment below as he articulates the issues beautifully:

… as artists, whether we are religious or not, we have the responsibility to awaken and enliven the world. It is our job. We needn’t be perfect, we aren’t running for office, and we won’t be defrocked. There is a rather dense old book by Dorothy L. Sayers (yes, the Christian mystery writer and friend of C.S. Lewis) in which she discusses, and I’m paraphrasing, the difference between “Moral Goodness” and “Aesthetic Goodness.”

Artists are provocateurs; as artists we are speaking in visual metaphor, much like Jesus’ parables. The stories represent universal truths. Artists are called to reveal the truth; not to re-iterate well worn ‘truths.’ To an artist, ‘the truth shall set us free’ means that we must be willing to let go of our own beliefs to find the new ‘truth.’ Too often we hold to our old beliefs — not out of laziness or lack of intelligence, but to protect our own fragile sense of self, our egos, our facade of being right. What most of us want more than anything is to be ‘right’. It is what leads many down the religious path in the first place. Buddhists practice letting go of this eternal grasping.

As an artist, I trust that if I follow my instinctive artistic path, that I will find a way to represent a form of truth. This goal trumps any religious demands, or any sense of religious ‘appropriateness.’ One must follow their own path with a sacred devotion. Nothing can be out of bounds. Making Art is on some level about self-censorship, we have to find our own limits. (It is not for others to censor us or tell us what is allowed.) We have to try to find a way for our own personal language to go straight to the viewers soul without need for translation. A way that doesn’t alienate us from the viewer, our own soul, or the mysterious Divine.

True Art is a ‘way.’

If Draw Jesus Day has created (and will continue to create) discussion about the meaning of Jesus and the importance of individual expression in the public dialogue — and judging by the chatter on social media outlets and by the images below, it has — than we at Hyperallergic believe it was all worth it.

Enjoy the gallery below and Happy Holidays everyone!

Note: We have NOT excluded any individual submissions but we did cut down the number of submissions from one artist if they sent multiple images. All late submissions have been posted in a slideshow on Hyperallergic LABS, our tumblelog.
Bo Bartlett, “Mary, Jesus and Joseph” (1990) from the Made Del Nene series.

Trevor Guthrie, “Michelangelo’s Pietà (Cultural Jihad)” (2009)

Mark Barry, “My Jesus Is a Yogi”

Celso, “The Last Screen Test”

Michelle Vaughan, “Boxing Day Jesus”

David Fratkin, “For Unto Us a Child Is Born”

David Fratkin, “No Animals Were Harmed in the Creation of this…”

Jerry Kearns, “Next Time”

Jerry Kearns, “Two Timing”

Andre Rivas, “The Meek Shall Inherit the Earth”

Warren Thomas King, “They Offered Him Gifts of Parm, Red Pepper & Oregano” (front and inside)

Samantha Beverly, “Christ Carrying Your Ad”

Michael Scoggins, Clockwise from top left: “Super Jesus” (2007), “The Crucifixion of Super Jesus” (2008), “The Resurrection of Super Jesus” (2008), and “The Death of Super Jesus” (2008). (click to enlarge)

A13MW, “Christ Consciousness Updated” This is the following explanation we received with the image:

This mixed media work updates Christ Consciousness by depicting the exchange of cultural information between a white woman and a black man. There exists on this planet more than one culture that believes Christ was a black or brown skinned man and not a blonde hair blue eyed one. This comes as a shock to white Western folks but is an idea worth exploring both historically and spiritually in a time where White means WAR and Black is equated with Material Poverty and Suffering …

Pamela Enz, “Hymn,” part of an interactive web novella in development entitled, “Urban Topiary”

Sam Thorp, “…Jesus as an anti-war socialist who gave free health care to the poor…”

Dan Brown, UK, “Speaking to Jesus”

Caio Fern, “You Can Take It”

Tom Bennett, “Jesus Lifting”

Ray Avito, who in his submission explained “…Jesus is my favorite muse”

Valerie Margolis, “Madonna & Child 2” (1987) from a series of 12

Valerie Margolis, “Soaked Almond 60” (2006)

James Prez


Jenny Gonzalez-Blitz

Camille Williams

Myriam Vanesch, “Inside Her” (left) and “Outside Her” (right)

Myriam Vanesch, “Prissy”

Tiffany Daneshar, “Noelle as Little Wayne as Jesus (In protest of Smithsonian Art Practices)”

Threadstar, “Christ Leon-Three Christs of Ypsilanti” (2009)

Name Withheld Upon Request, “Captain Christ”


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