emily ann pothast

The Holy Bible: New American Revision

During my final quarter in the MFA program at the University of Washington, I spent hundreds of hours isolating all of the violent language in a King James translation of the Christian Bible by blacking out the rest of the text, line by line, with dozens of black chisel-tip markers. The resulting object is exhibited on a liturgical book stand alongside wall text encouraging viewers to turn the pages and interact with the piece.

Having spent much of my youth in a North Texas stronghold of American post-Protestant fundamentalist Christianity, I undertook this project in response to the tendency by many Americans to use the Bible and Christian dogma to sanction bigotry, xenophobia, and violence. The meditative, ritualistic transformation of the Bible into an ominous document more closely resembling a censored CIA folio than a sacred religious text underscores the parallel forces at work in the contemporary American imagination.

This piece was first installed in my MFA exhibition at the Henry Art Gallery. It has since been exhibited in Apocolypse Now at Ouch My Eye Gallery and in Restating Empire at Gallery 110, where it was selected by juror Deborah Paine for the first place award.

View detail of the Bible text

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