The Crucifixion of Christ was my attempt at creating a lasting memorial to God. It's also a subject done many times by many different artists. So this was an extreme challenge for me and it turned out to be controversial and one of my greatest disappointments. The problem was...I painted Christ naked. Whether Christ was in fact naked can be argued by Biblical scholars.
I remember studying different crucifixions and finally decided I would paint the sky dark with drops of blood and Jesus would be a spirit on the cross- triumphant over the earth. I thought about the image of Jesus and that certainly when you die and rise above the earth you would not be wearing any clothes- that was my big mistake. Even today I'm so sensitive I'm not sure if the painting should be shown.
I created the painting while I live in Beaufort SC with my grandmother Matteson. She didn't like it but she didn't really acknowledge anything I did (although she secretly admired me). For her, grandchildren (I was 26 mind you) were to be seen not heard. They had their place like any youngsters and that place meant you did what you were told and didn't interrupt your wiser elders. Fortunately I was able to get along with her.
Naively I entered the Crucifixion of Christ in an art show in SC. When I went to the show later in the day to my horror the painting was turned around, hangin backward facing the wall so you couldn't see it. Outraged, I confronted the organizers and was told that the painting had received complaints and wasn't appropriate to be viewed. "Well...", I shouted, "why did you accept it in the first place?"
After the public humiliation I no longer wished to look at the painting. What I had conceived "to glorify God" had instead become a mockery. Maybe that's how Jesus felt when he was crucified. So I decided to give the painting to my brother Jeff who was religious and studying to become a minister. At least he could appreciate my attempt.
A year or so later I visited Jeff and Jill in Maryland and noticed that my painting was nowhere to be found. I looked on all the walls in their house and it was not hanging anywhere. After a brief discussion I found out that the painting was too much for them as well and it was stored in the their closet. I asked for it back and they were only too happy to oblige.
Yes, Jesus is purple... and yes, Jesus is naked...and yes, Jesus is in outer space. Yes...the painting was rejected and scorned. Isn't that the point!