"Modern Last Supper"
"Modern Last Supper"
Although I hope you find personal meaning in this art, this piece is meant to show that many who we don't expect might have been at Jesus' table if he were to have had the 'last supper' in modern times.
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Full Description (transcription of video)
The full title of this work is “Eat Every Supper As If It Were The Last.”
This Last Supper takes place in McDonald’s because Jesus’ instatement of communion was not at high church, nor in a safe place with certified clergy. Jesus’ last supper was in a place vulnerable to peril, with poor, uneducated, flawed common people.
Jesus is depicted here as a vagabond black man, showing how much value is hidden within those from whom many may expect little. Even the heart of Jesus can be within them. He offers a hamburger to the street dog and the cup of soda to the homeless woman beside him. Even though he has little (his sign says “I’m Hungry”), what he has he still gives to those in need.
The homeless woman to the right of the Jesus figure comes with a story. When looking for pictures of a homeless woman to draw I came across a video. In it a man pretends to be blind and asks people if his lottery ticket is a winner (he already knows it is and is worth $500). Several rich-looking men lie to him and try to take the ticket from him. But this dirty homeless woman whom he found loitering in a parking lot informs him of his win, congratulates him, and is excited for him. From my experience, when talking to the homeless, their faith is often deeper than the long-churched faith I’ve seen in some suburban deacons, or educated seminarians like myself. The constant need to trust God for their well-being has perhaps trained their hearts in faith.
The street dog going back to nurse hungry pups reminds us to recognize Christ’s spirit in those who give to the needy from whom they can gain nothing. And it reminds us that the generous deeds of some are unseen.
The gender-bending woman comforting the Jesus-like homeless man on her left, petting the dirty dog, and looking with compassion to the person to her right reflects a subset of believers many have disqualified from faith as well. But I see in her compassion a heart of a disciple.
To the right of the homeless woman is a prostitute. Something has caught her attention at the end of the table, and this is another quality Jesus wanted his apostles to demonstrate. She is looking at the young girl at the far right who is alone, isolated from the rest. Despite this woman’s own struggles, she has compassion to care for the lonely.
On the far left we have three men who are interacting. The one in the front with a skateboard doesn’t fit the traditional role of a safe suburban Christian. Even though his looks and hobbies are ones that traditionally suggest he is rebellious, the imagery in his tattoos and on his skateboard reflect his true Christian beliefs. He reaches his culture with Christ’s love in their context, despite how other Christians may stereotype him.
Behind him is an overweight, black McDonalds employee with a hearing aid. This employee, who assumedly isn’t naturally well loved among his coworkers because of his looks, offers an un-purchased ice cream cone to the man who, he overheard, has never seen a soft serve ice-cream cone before. Sometimes the irresponsible thing (giving our employer’s product away for free) in an act of love is more important than its consequences. The skinny dark-skinned man is a Haitian immigrant. Immigrants are another subset of society who are often under-appreciated by mainstream American Christianity, divided perhaps because of their vast differences in looks and cultural habits, as well as the unfamiliar version of their religion.
The lonely black girl on the far right sees the other little girl’s barbie and wants to take it. She has bruises and dirty clothes because she has run away from an abusive home. She has not been taught good ethics, nor had them exemplified to her. So even though we may automatically label her as dangerous or bad, the prostitute notices and understands.
The middle eastern mother and her child are holding each other, sitting quietly, loving each other at table with the rest of the disciples.
Just above the prostitute, about to exit the door behind them is a mega-church pastor. He symbolizes Judas who, upon thinking Jesus’ teachings were too hard and finding worldly wealth to be more attractive, leaves to do what he said were more ecclesiastical duties. He is the only one whose Bible is closed. Some of the others have Bibles, or Bible apps on their phone, but they are open. The chair from which he got up is the open one beside the Haitian immigrant.
The two people in this piece looking at the viewer are the homeless man symbolizing Jesus, and the man next to the open chair. This is because Jesus is the one who has brought this group together. But the other man is the cross-dressing alcoholic man wearing a bra over his clothes. He has tears in his eyes because the pastor who was sitting next to him was too uncomfortable and left. But now he looks at us, you and me, and asks, will you sit next to me at this table?
Later Jesus and his disciples were at home having supper with a collection of disreputable guests. Unlikely as it seems, more than a few of them had become followers. The religion scholars and Pharisees saw him keeping this kind of company and lit into his disciples: “What kind of example is this, acting cozy with the riffraff?
Mark 2:15-16 MSG.
To the right are a couple of articles that feature this mural:
Buy on canvases below: