One of the saddest effects of the Fall is surely the human proclivity toward blindness in the face of glory. “The world is charged with the grandeur of God,” says Hopkins, but we soon start yawning at the sight. When we are left to our own devices, it would seem nothing in the cosmos can escape our capacity to take things for granted and therefore cease to really see them. This is most tragic when applied to the crown of Creation, the human person, bearer of the imago Dei. Behind all violence against human dignity is this failure—sometimes a willful failure—simply to see what is there.
This is why an essential part of the role of artists is continuously to help us open our eyes. This summer, shaken by the shocking death of George Floyd, the editors of Dappled Things wondered what a Catholic arts journal ought to bring to the table in light of such violence, especially violence directed against the black community. We decided to hold our first-ever visual arts contest, with a call for visual artists “to help us see more clearly,” to “honor and highlight the infinite worth inherent within each victim of racial violence.” The prize was named in honor of St. Josephine Bakhita, who, as the prize announcement explains, “was a Sudanese slave brutalized by her captors, who later became a religious sister renowned for her joyfulness, gentleness, and charity. Today she is the patroness of Sudan and survivors of human trafficking.”
Knowing we needed a range of diverse perspectives to properly consider the merits and fittingness of the works submitted, the editors reached out to artists Larry Cope and Daniel Mitsui, who along with me served as judges. We employed a blind process for assessing the works submitted, not considering resumes or artist statements, but looking always for pieces that could speak powerfully and directly as images. We received a wealth of excellent submissions, but in the end, we believe the following ten pieces best answered the contest’s call to help us “better see the humanity and God-given worth of victims of racial violence.” Sit with them; find out in what new ways they can open your eyes to the reality that—as the title of one piece proclaims—we are each wonderfully made. Trusting that these works have the power to do exactly that, we present them without further commentary.
Publisher, Dappled Things
Winners and Honorees
Headlines – Bahkita Prize Winner, Oluwatobi Adewumi
Content of Character – Bahkita Prize Runner-Up, Howard Fullmer
Our Lady of Loreto in the refugees’ cloak – Honorable Mention, Margherita Gallucci
Black and Blue – Honorable Mention, Robert Forman
WE MATTER – Honorable Mention, Michael Riley
Wonderfully Made – Honorable Mention, Eva Crawford
Thurman by Firelight – Honorable Mention, Martin Dunn
A Mother’s Struggle – Honorable Mention, Rachel Singel
Why Divide? – Honorable Mention, Gurneet Kaur
Alisa – Honorable Mention, Hannah Thomas