Beauty awakens the soul to act. Dante


Spackman, Betty: A Profound Weakness

Book Info  

Betty Spackman: A Profound Weakness. Christians and Kitsch, Piquant Editions – Carlisle, 2005.
"As an academic as well as an arts commentator, I can vouch for the fact that A Profound Weakness is a startling, scintillating ‘one off.’ Spackman aims to explain the fascinating, sometimes frankly irritating phenomena of religious kitsch in all its paradoxes: laughable and overdone, yet also a serious expression of culture; junky and trashy, yet also a sincerely devised statement of sublime biblical truth. Rather than targeting a ‘poorer’ art by comparing it to ‘high’ or elite art, Spackman’s visual essay hits her assessment of kitsch as a cultural artifact out of the park. This profound analysis belongs in every library on the visual arts. More! More!" Karen L Mulder, Art and architectural historian / Former Menil Scholar of Visual Arts, Yale University

In this ‘image journal’ and textbook, the contemporary artist Betty Spackman takes us on a guided tour of her collection of images and objects that represent the Christian faith in popular culture. Having set out to critique these poor relations of ecclesiastical art, she finds herself torn between being deeply moved and outraged by their sentimental appeal. Her gentle deconstructions and playful permutations elicit new life from them to illustrate her observations, and to surprise and at times unsettle the reader. A closing questionnaire prompts further reflection. This is a book that can help us greatly to make sense of the pictures that unwittingly may have shaped our faith or unfaith. In particular Spackman wonders why, if kitsch is 'easy, formulaic and a lie', the church is so quick to adopt it to 'tell the truth'! This beautifully produced, full-colour textbook is highly recommended for artists, teachers, preachers, youth leaders, parents and spiritual counsellors.
'Paradoxically, the simplistic nature of kitsch both conceals and reveals the vestiges of wonder, the underlying mysteries of faith, through the most garish of guises and a disturbing exhibitionism. In a way, kitsch represents a closet desire for spiritual reality, and the creative longing to manifest mystery. . .' [p17]

Special Features:
Illustrated throughout in full colour. Includes a questionnaire to prompt discussion. With a bibliography & full image list. Sample chapters 2 and 13 available in mini format for study groups.