Pop Art as Sacred Art?

Blog Published: November 18, 2013
By Sister Julie

When Pope John XXIII threw open the window opening the Church to the modern world, I'm not sure he specifically had pop culture in mind, but why not? Indeed, the mainstream of any particular society can offer signs of the times just like other areas of life. In pop culture we can see the "joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties" of people.

I started thinking about this after reading an interesting article called "The good books: how church used pop art to guide young" by John Spain in the Irish Independent (November 16, 2013). It's an interesting read with a look at the covers of several pamphlets that pose tantalizing questions related to sexuality, vocation, drinking, and well, more sexuality.  Pope Francis' very presence as @Pontifex on Twitter is perhaps a modern day example of using pop-art-emblazon pamphlets, though thankfully he has expanded the topics considerably!

Not surprisingly, my favorite image is of the pamphlet, "Shall I Be a Nun?" by Rev. Daniel A. Lord, SJ. (Those Jesuits!)

The art itself tells a story without even knowing what's written inside.

"Shall I be a nun?" pamphlet

She's stylish and modern in her own day and age. She is smart and thoughtful as she considers her future, what she wants for her life, and how God is a part of it all. I think she's got a healthy dose of attitude as well. The intensity of her posture and gaze might suggest seriousness, bemusement, anger, mental gymnastics ensuing, and probably a host of other experiences.

I like her. She's ready. No matter where this leads -- to the convent, the mall, the rodeo (I suspect she rather likes rodeo), the hills -- she knows it'll be okay.

In any event, God is with us in all things, and that means pop art and pop culture!

How have might we immerse ourselves in pop culture and perhaps find ways to transform pop art into a way of communicating the sacred?

Recent Comments

Submitted by Another Sister… on Mon, 11/18/2013 - 10:28


Is it just me, or does she looks rather ... angry ... as she discerns?

Submitted by Another Sister… on Mon, 11/18/2013 - 10:30


I mean, most of the images I saw back in the day (and still today at times!) was of the back of a young woman as she stared into the distance...along a path..a train track...a road.

Submitted by Sister Julie on Mon, 11/18/2013 - 13:55


I think she's just intense. Realistic. Pensive. :)

Submitted by marla h. thurman on Wed, 11/20/2013 - 15:04


she looks downright determined to me.