EVEN as a lifetime religious skeptic, I’ve long been fascinated by artists, writers and other culture-makers who bring religion, spirituality, and related matters into their work. Most likely, the art impulse and the urge to worship and praise originated in tandem; what we now call religion and culture were almost seamlessly joined for many centuries. (The agnostic or atheist or iconoclastic artist is, if we take the long view, a historical anomaly.)
In a sense, then, the painter and print-maker John August Swanson is something of a throwback: Swanson, who I met a few weeks ago, has a wide range of interests, but his work is very heavily inspired by Christianity, especially the social-justice wing of Catholicism. He’s influenced by a wide ranger of artists, especially Renaissance painters, Diego Rivera and political printmaker Sister Corita, with whom he studied. He’s got a touch of the Outsider artist to him, though his roots and technique don’t quite fit with most of the others.
I enjoyed meeting Swanson immensely and getting to know his work. Here is my story for the Loyola Marymount University magazine, just out.