An interesting thing happened in the making of this mini-documentary about Father Bill Moore’s Stations of the Cross. We asked all the people in the video to engage with the art — look at it, sit with it, tell us what you see…and touch it.
“What? Touch the art?” they would say. “I can’t do that.”
“No, we promise you it’s okay,” we’d say. “We asked Father Bill multiple times. Not only did he give permission, he actually encouraged it.” (We have it on camera if anyone asks).
But even when given free reign, everyone felt uneasy actually touching the art. One friend of ours in this video came up to us a few weeks after filming just to say she still felt bad for touching the painting.
This experience has left an impact on us at Brehm Experience. It’s important that we respect art. Most pieces shouldn’t be touched. But doesn’t that leave us feeling disconnected from the work?
What if you could actually touch the surface that the Last Supper is painted on? What if you could feel the dots of paint in Seurat’s A Sunday Afternoon…? How much more would adding this sensation to our experience change the way we feel about a work of art? Or, change the way we feel about ourselves and the artist?
In John’s Gospel narrative, Thomas is invited to touch the scars in Jesus’ side. It’s by this connection that he knows this is indeed the Jesus he followed who is now raised from the dead.
Touch Jesus’ wounds — we can’t do this today, and yet we are told that at one point in time disciples like Thomas did actually touch the living Jesus. What a change this experience had not only on them, but on the many who have believed their accounts!
Maybe this is part of the call for the artist… and for the priest… and for anyone who calls Jesus their crucified and risen savior: To offer opportunities for people to touch (and be touched by) the Divine.
Fr. Bill Moore is both an artist and a priest, finding that being each of these makes him better at the other. Through his art, he asks those that would explore it to slow down, look, touch, and consider the essential colors, shapes and textures that can feed our souls. He does not receive payments for his art. Instead, all the money goes directly to his congregation to help others in need.