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Brillo Tabernacle

Brillo Tabernacle

Acrylic on wood, Brillo pad
18 x 27 x 17”

Arthur Danto, a philosopher of art, claimed that
Andy Warhol’s Brillo Box was the emblem that
inaugurated the end of art history as we know it.
What the end of art means is not that artmaking
is over but that everything can be art. Here,
Brillo Box operates as a tabernacle, a container
where the Eucharist, the Real Presence of
Christ, is housed.

If Brillo Box can be art, then everything can be art. The Brillo Box has become the symbol of contemporary art and the idea that anything can rise to art status. Everything can be art, and God can also be found in all things. How can we see God then, in every artwork, not just the religious art of the past? Can God even be found in contemporary areligious art? Can all art act as a sort of tabernacle – a dwelling place of God? In the tabernacle are scenes from the life of Christ that were prescient in my own experience of The Spiritual Exercises thirty-day retreat when I was in the novitiate. The Baptism of Christ, the scene of the rich young man, Jesus with Peter walking on water, Jesus’s entry into Jerusalem, Jesus’s Agony in the Garden, and the Scourging at the Pillar were all palpable moments I experienced powerfully while on that retreat. On the sides are Jesus’s burial and His Resurrection. In the back is the descent from the cross. In the center is a monstrance, a vessel for adoring the Eucharist, with a Brillo pad – a steel wool dish soap pad. The point is not that this is a consecrated host, but it helps us to understand and think about what the Eucharist is.

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