Contemporary artists have often clashed with conservative American evangelicals in recent years, giving the impression that art and religion are fundamentally at odds. Yet historically, artistic images have played a profound role in American religious life. This superb collection of essays, with its unique assembly of images, challenges the apparent tension between religion and the arts by illustrating and investigating their long-standing and intriguing relationship from the early nineteenth century to the present day. The essays explore such varied topics as Sioux Sun Dance artifacts and paintings, American Jewish New Year postcards, the New Mexican santos tradition, roadside shrines, images of journey in African American pictorial traditions, the public display of religion, and the religious use of nineteenth-century technologies of mass reproduction.
David Morgan holds the Duesenberg Chair in Christianity and the Arts in Christ College, Valparaiso University. He is the author of Visual Piety: A History and Theory of Popular Religious Images (California, 1998) and Protestants and Pictures: Religion, Visual Culture, and the Age of American Mass Production (1999). Sally M. Promey is Professor of American Art in the Department of Art History and Archaeology at the University of Maryland. She is the author of Painting Religion in Public: John Singer Sargent's Triumph of Religion at the Boston Public Library (1999) and Spiritual Spectacles: Vision and Image in Mid-Nineteenth-Century Shakerism (1993).
"At last, a book that overturns the long-standing assumption that there has been little or no visual culture in American religious practice. Editors Morgan and Promey, along with twelve other authors, prove their case brilliantly, beginning with a splendid introduction that presents their theoretical stance and a range of essays that examine the visual culture of Protestant Bible illustrations, the National Shrine in Washington, D. C., Jewish New Year postcards, Sioux Sun Dance painting, African-American images of rail travel, and many more. This book is a benchmark."—Elizabeth Johns, author of American Genre Painting: The Politics of Everyday Life (Yale, 1991)
"These essays are unusually strong, sophisticated, mature, and insightful. They are remarkably readable, not merely for art historians but also for a broadly interested and intelligent audience. The result is a truly fascinating collection that touches on a wide range of important topics in the two-hundred-year experience of both American art and American religion."—Jon Butler, editor of Religion in American History: A Reader