“The invention of the soul as concept is a beautiful abstract idea,” Arata explains. “I would like to have been at that meeting when it was debated…Inventing and assigning abstract characteristics and qualities of divine inspiration as a soul. The soul is an awe-inspiring achievement. Equal to the invention of the mathematical concept of zero. Both require universal agreement to exist. I would like to have been at ‘the zero meeting’ too.”
Inspired by spiritual traditions, popular culture, American and European politics, as well as war, public health issues and sexual expression, Arata simply, takes from life. The new works exhibited in Canonized Saints touch on spirituality and tradition, but also handle what make us all human; even the humanity of saints. “The potential for sainthood is universal,” he says. Arata’s abstract interpretations of sainthood use a visceral and cacophonous visual expression, but touch on a truly human way of feeling.
Arata’s interest in sainthood lead him to the inspired task of managing and reviving souls. “Sex and the use of sex objects seem like the most obvious natural activity of reinserting a person’s soul. Inserting as many soles as often as possible, may quite possibly result in eternal bliss.”
Documenting one’s achievements is a common practice, in life and in art—as seen in Arata’s sculptural tree. “People rank things. In Catholicism, saints have a longer CV than common folk. Saints have a larger soul…I was motivated to canonize a host of saints when the Catholic Church announced the first indigenous resident of the ‘new world’ as a candidate for sainthood. I use print and digital media to identify citizens eligible for canonization. I use the most common material produced by humans to form representational icons following the path of Piero Manzoni."
An Opening Reception for Michael Arata's Canonized Saints inaugural exhibition will take place on Saturday, September 21, from 6:00 to 8:00 pm. The exhibition will remain on view until October 26, 2013.