Alumnus Dylan Mortimer (MFA 2006 Fine Arts) is featured in this month’s Public Art Review discussing his work in the context of recent art that combines spiritual concepts with pop-culture references, which some critics deem irreverent.
Mortimer, the lead pastor at Kansas City’s Rivercity Community Church, has created an array of pieces, from orange “Bible dispensers” that mimic newspaper boxes to “bling” jewelry. Bearing messages such as “Jesus Christ, God!” and “Ble$$ed,” the pendants fuse the exaggerated materialism of hip-hop culture with spiritual messages.
Mortimer says he finds value and meaning in the medium despite what some naysayers may believe, and he appreciates the bold form. “In hip-hop, there’s total permission to express things directly,” he says. “There’s no sense of ‘This is what I believe, but I’d better not say it out loud.’ I find that really compelling.”
The artist also says he tries to encourage this mentality in regard to spirituality and faith through most of his art. “Coming from the perspective of a person of faith, I find it interesting to see how people in our culture are pressured not to acknowledge that they have spiritual or religious connections. I want to step into the messiness of what it would be like if you didn’t have to hide your beliefs.”
Images: (top) Dylan Mortimer, Blessed, 2008, brass, aluminum, rhinestones; (bottom) Dylan Mortimer, Can’t Knock the Hustle, 2008, wood, aluminum, lights. Photos © Dylan Mortimer.