Candace and I enjoy visiting art museums when we travel, so we were delighted when we discovered that the Springfield Art Museum was hosting one of the sessions of the annual meeting for the Missouri Association of Museums and Archives.
When we entered their large rotating exhibit hall, we were stunned by the featured exhibit: “The Road I Call Home,” by Springfield-based photographer Randy Bacon. This exhibit featuring photograph portraits of homeless persons is moving and compelling in the most humane way. With artful lighting that captures warmth and detail in each face, the photographs reveal the beauty, mystery, integrity and humanity of each person. Photos are accompanied by verbal narratives, as each homeless person relays his or her own story. Portraits and narratives are mutually-reinforcing, creating an interplay of meaning that places the visitor in dialogue with each individual; one may not casually assume the role of a distant observer. The larger-than-life size of the portraits establishes that dialogue on an equal footing. Nor is there an aisle allowing one to walk straight through the hall, casting one’s eyes aside. It is impossible to avoid them. They are anything but invisible. Their humanity is manifest.
I would have wished to buy a large coffee-table book of the exhibit. Better yet, to take a field trip for my entire church and ask everyone to go inside the exhibit, as if it were the Sunday-morning sanctuary. Without any knowledge of the exhibit, to ask them: “Can you find the portraits of Jesus inside?” His real presence shines forth from every photograph (Matthew 25:31-46).
This exhibit is open until February 23, 2020. Go and see it if you possibly can. Even if you have to make it an overnight trip, you will be glad you did.