MOCRA Spotlight Tours Put the Focus on Individual Artworks
ST. LOUIS – This semester, Saint Louis University’s Museum of Contemporary Religious Art (MOCRA) presents a selection of works from the museum collection and works on loan. Highlights include a work by noted Santa Clara Pueblo painter Pablita Velarde, three works by celebrated Chinese-French artist Zao Wou-Ki, and a tribute to the late artist James Rosen, whose haunting paintings were featured in a 2011 retrospective at MOCRA.
MOCRA is also launching several Spotlight Tours for visitors. The 30-minute discussions are focused on a single artwork. The tours are free and open to the public.
Upcoming Spotlight Tours will be held on Nov. 18, Nov. 19 and on Dec. 1.
- Vicente Telles, Ahí Viene Vicente . . . A Self-portrait in Truth and Power. Join Museum Assistant Julie Wyatt for a look at the newest work in the MOCRA collection, a striking self-portrait that is rooted in the Santero tradition, but shows artist Vicente Telles exploring new artistic terrain. The tour will be held from 11:15-11:45 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 18.
- Junko Chodos, Root Series No. 17, Garan . . . Collage on a Cosmic Scale. Museum Assistant Emily White leads a deep dive into a work whose intricately layered, collaged images cohere into a dizzying abstract dreamscape. This work has been on extended loan since the 2005 exhibition Junko Chodos: The Breath of Consciousness, and fascinates visitors every time it’s on display. The tour will be held from 11:15 to 11:45 a.m. on Sunday, Nov. 19.
- Gryphon Blackswan, Chasuble for Mass in the Time of AIDS . . . Defying Death and Discrimination with Style. On World AIDS Day and Day With(out) Art, MOCRA Director David Brinker delves into the story behind a work commissioned for the groundbreaking 1994 exhibition Consecrations: The Spiritual in Art in the Time of AIDS. He will explore how the significance of the work has evolved along with changes in the understanding of gender and sexuality and the experience of HIV and AIDS. Tours will be held at 12:15 p.m., 5:15 p.m. and 7:15 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 1.
MOCRA’s full roster of artists and artworks is available in the Fall 2023 Gallery Guide.
MOCRA relaunched its podcast, MOCRA Voices, for those interested in learning more about the museum’s collections.
The newest offering is “Meditations: Black Expression, Abstraction, and the Spirit,” a series that explores the intersection of spirituality and the artistic practice of Black creatives encountering ideas within the wide lexicon of abstraction.
“Meditations” takes inspiration from the final panel in artist Frederick J. Brown’s five-painting work The Life of Christ Altarpiece, a major work in the MOCRA collection.
The introductory episode describes how “Meditations” emerged from conversations between art historian and curator (and son of Frederick) Bentley Brown and MOCRA Director David Brinker during the summer of 2020. It provides historical and biographical context about Frederick J. Brown and his milieu, including the visual artists and musicians he worked with and around in New York City during the 1970s and 1980s – most importantly, the interdisciplinary and intercultural creative community Brown cultivated at his loft studio in the budding art center of SoHo.
Brown’s portrayal of The Descent into Hell is an abstracted meditation on the spiritual and emotional sublime within lived experience. Drawing from the example provided by Brown, the artists featured within the series are invited to consider how spirituality, abstraction and Black cultural production are intertwined. As such, “Meditations” seeks to offer a critical narrative within the discourse of not only Black cultural production, but Western art history by opening the dialogue of the contribution of Black artists beyond the politics of representation, underscoring the importance of abstraction as a tool to express qualities of the Black experience that exist beyond the body politic.
Episodes can be found on the MOCRA Voices page. This season’s episodes include:
- Introductory episode with art historian and curator Bentley Brown
- Episode 1: Felipe Luciano and Malcolm Mooney
- Episode 2: Lauren Kelley and Summer Sloane-Britt
- Episode 3: Chester Higgins and Leslie King-Hammond
Saint Louis University’s Museum of Contemporary Religious Art (MOCRA) is the first museum to focus on the spiritual and religious dimensions in contemporary art. Officially opened in 1993, MOCRA is located in a spacious chapel that was used for over 35 years by Jesuits studying philosophy at Saint Louis University. Through exhibitions, collections, and educational programs, MOCRA highlights and explores the ways contemporary visual artists engage the religious and spiritual dimensions. MOCRA serves the diverse Saint Louis University community, and the wider public, by facilitating personal discovery, experience, and inspiration, while contributing to a wider culture of interfaith encounter and dialogue. More information at slu.edu/mocra.