The darker sides of religion always seem to be the most interesting. There are only so many ways that one could depict the saints, the Virgin Mary, Jesus, or happier scenes from the Torah and New Testament. But there are countless ways that artists have captured the dark and obscure aspects of demons, fallen angels, hellspawn, magic, and the occult. In Paradise Lost, Lucifer is the only one with any personality. Light illuminates all, but darkness picks at our curiosity. What lurks beneath the gloom?
Snaking its way through these themes is sin. The sins of the individual or of humanity are what the Catholic Church used to claim doomed men to Hell. Only by the grace of God could they escape. And there are the most famous of the sins. The ones that most people know from their own religions (or from Se7en, a great movie)—these are the seven deadly sins. It is from these sins that more dire vices and consequences can arise.
Buoyed by Catholic iconography, Boston College’s campus would be the perfect place to explore these sins through art. This is just what Michaela Mark, MCAS ’21, has done. Her exhibit, titled “Seven Deadly Sins,” just wrapped up its short run in the Carney 203 Gallery.
In this exhibit, Mark explores these vices: greed, envy, lust, gluttony, wrath, sloth, and pride. On the wall, Mark placed a number of photos, all of which bear the label of one sin and its definition.
Each vicious photograph captures the essence of its labeled sin. For example, one photograph—under which a small piece of paper reading “Lust – a strong craving or desire, often of a sexual nature” was posted—displayed the naked back of a woman. Her arms are wrapped across her chest, as her manicured fingers dig into her own skin. Around her are many silhouetted hands, reaching out for her body.
Next to “Lust” is “Gluttony.” Above the caption reading “Gluttony – over-consumption or indulgence in food or drink” is another photographed woman. She sits with her back against a cabinet, on the floor, surrounded by bottles. She is pouring a glass of red wine into her mouth, but she has clearly been drinking a lot—her body and white dress are soaked through with the crimson alcohol.
Another striking photograph is “Wrath,” reading “strong vengeful anger of indignation towards another.” In this photograph, a woman in a white shirt is depicted at neck level. Only the part of her body from her nose down to the top of her chest is visible. But, from behind, hands are reaching around her neck to choke her.
While the exhibit is not extensive in volume, it is well done. Mark’s goal in exploration of the cardinal sins through art is very intriguing and leaves visitors wishing—or lusting—for more.
Featured Image by Maggie DiPatri / Heights Editor