Why Do We Have Bodies?

-An exploration into sensuous mysticism

This exhibition is intended to raise questions about the nature of human sensuality in the context of religious longing. All of the world’s major religions cherish traditions of mystical writings that glorify God through the longing of the body. These works, using materials from tar to fabric to gold, bring the imagery of the sensual body and passages from mystical poets throughout history into the contemporary dialogue between body and spirit.

Another Night Alone




My Flesh Longeth

Exhibition Statement

The difference between a living and a dead person is a growing body. It is the gift we are given as we enter the gates of this world and relinquish as we leave.

But within the mainstream of Christianity-—indeed every major faith—lies a fundamental mistrust of the body. Although we the faithful believe we are created by a loving God, religious tradition seems unable to reconcile our "very good" creation with the reality of a joyfully juicy embodiment on earth. Associating nudity with sexuality and sexuality with sin, we seem to think that the thicker and more shapeless the clothes we don, (quite conveniently for us northerners!) the greater our piety.

Repressing any psychic power, Carl Jung says, only makes it monstrous. Faiths that try to subsume the powers of Eros through intellectual discipline find that sooner or later Eros emerges dark and dangerous. But are the pious truly called to numb themselves to the body? If spirituality and sensuality are really opposed, then did God give us bodies just to watch us squirm?

This series from which this work derives explores the vein of erotic mysticism from poets across history in every major faith who tell of their devotion through their spirit-charged bodies. I have borrowed from poets like Rumi, the13th century Sufi, Mirabai, the16th century Hindu, several medieval Christian women, and even a mystical poet from our own century: my sister Krys Holmes. These works are both paeans to this beauty and a sort of self portrait of my soul—a beautiful, tormented bride—in fervent, dramatic, sometimes overtly sexual longing for God.

Beauty is the smell of God in the world; find something of beauty and you sense God's handiwork. And there is nothing more beautiful in all of creation than the exquisite human form. Through the study of mystic poets, I have come to believe that we are intentionally created by God in stunning packages so that the Sacred can be celebrated in everything we do. Even if the Eros of life is not where your reverence lies, I invite you to enter into the spirit of these works and to feel how the Divine is seducing us all the time.

(Many of these works were created with monotypes made by Lonnie Hanzon.)

See more works

Read the news article

Read the reporter's thoughts on the Nude

Sacred Texts are Hidden

All This Fantasy and Grief

We Firelit Beings

Copyright © 2007 Holmes Studio