The Seven Deadly Sins under Glass

My stepmother alerted me to this cool exhibit that is currently open at the Mesa Arts Center by artists Tim Tate & Marc Petrovic:  “The centerpiece of this exhibition is Tate and Petrovic’s latest collaborative venture, The Seven Deadly Sins, which visually depicts the traditional vices in contemporary times.”

Here is another link to the work–available for a cool $50,000, if you have that kind of change lying around:

The picture below is of “gluttony.”


I’m always on the lookout for new representations of the seven deadly sins, since I regularly teach a course on the topic, and I’m always interested to see how the very idea strikes the current fancy of today’s artists.    What was interesting to me [among other things] about this particular artistic representation is that the sin of “pride” has been cast as “vanity.”  There is a historical connection here: the two Latin terms are superbia and vana gloria.  They were at one time considered separate sins [in a list of eight by Evagrius], and then later combined [by Pope Gregory].

Thinking about it, I feel like something is lost and something is gained by the switch.  “Vanity” too often gets reduced to a superficial emphasis on appearance–which it does in this particular artistic representation [see below]; that doesn’t get at the heart of “pride’s” self-absorption and unwillingness to put God first, or the needs of the neighbor, for that matter.

However, there is something to be gained when taking a fresh look at “vanity,” too, and getting beyond the lipstick and mirrors!  “Vanity” also points to the unwillingness to be wrong and say you’re sorry; it points to the reluctance to try something new or take a risk–you don’t want to look foolish, of course; and it points to the inability to be open to learning something new or changing your mind–you don’t want to concede someone else might know something you don’t know.  Ironically, it’s a very ugly way to live–so maybe the satire of the lipstick and mirrors is appropriate, after all!

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