The symbolism is right out of the old religious art images: the skull representing mortality, and the contemplation of it. The wall behind them looks like it shows a map of the Americas. The paraphernalia that the junkie uses are all laid out so we can see them, the "sinner's tools" - cards, booze, a gun, coke, a candle for the heroin spoon, and of course the needle and tourniquet. We see Jesus' suffering for our sins, but also that he is there with us, even in the loneliest times. It reminds me of the Footprints poem. You know the one:
Footprints in the SandThis image feels heavy-handed, but yet, it grabs me. What about you? I think probably all those crucifixes, and entombment images back in the Middle Ages used to feel powerful - real - to the people back then too. THAT's what I think is amazing about religious art. I always get sucked in.
One night I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord. Many scenes from my life flashed across the sky.
In each scene I noticed footprints in the sand. Sometimes there were two sets of footprints, other times there was one only.
This bothered me because I noticed that during the low periods of my life, when I was suffering from anguish, sorrow or defeat, I could see only one set of footprints, so I said to the Lord,
“You promised me Lord,
that if I followed you, you would walk with me always. But I have noticed that during the most trying periods of my life there has only been one set of footprints in the sand. Why, when I needed you most, have you not been there for me?”
The Lord replied, “The years when you have seen only one set of footprints, my child, is when I carried you.”
Mary Stevenson, 1936