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Holy Crow Church


Yesterday evening the opening of Jeff Molloy's art show "Reverence" at Artworks on Gabriola was an opportunity for me to view religion more broadly.

Beginning with a piece that shows a priest with a forked tongue cutting off the hair of a young naked child, surrounded by boxes containing shapes like young children behind bars - you know this show will not be sentimental.

Further along there is a series of poles made up of driftwood, canoe paddles, nails and animal bones. Each one contains a message which I hope will become clear to me if I stare at them long enough. On a couple of the poles the driftwood represents crows. One has a crown, they all have majesty, attitude. One pole is topped by a nativity scene complete with a star, holding several found objects like old brushes, twigs and such. The pole furthest to the right is adorned with a bishop's hat made of a hip joint from some creature who left this plane some time ago. I attempt to understand. It's in a language I haven't yet learned. But I am reminded that this must be how the aboriginal people tried to understand the teachings of Christianity.

Theology made of wood, bones and long nails, is not as primitive as the church who set up residential schools to warehouse First Nations' children to 'cleanse' them of their culture through ritual abuse, torture and rape.  Behind the ornaments and devices of the Christian church is the history of European exploitation.

Take away the mythologies of glory -  they came to the new world with booze, guns and germs to take the land, the bison, the logs, beaver pelts, metals and minerals.

In the anthropocene, the way to conquer the world is to wipe out the heart and mind of humanity and replace it with a dehumanizing ideology that turns them into obedient robotic soldiers trained to kill and be killed for coins, trinkets and a hoped for afterlife.

I'm not suggesting that this view is the intention of Molloy's art because I don't wish to impose my thoughts on someone else's creations. This is how I internalize the language of all things, arising as it does out of the violence of our past.

But art does contain the future too. It asks the viewer to think about what the past has to say about the future. In this art, what is made precious is the nature that surrounds us, that is washed up on the shore, how we make meaning of things that are otherwise mute. And how do we preserve it? This is the meaning of the holy crow, the holy twig, the holy paint, and the inquiring mind.



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