The Good Samaritan Meets Jim Crow
Gwen Meharg Acrylic with handmade stamps 2010
A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. (Luke 10:30-32)
Meharg’s painting explores this familiar story in an updated fashion. For us to understand the full weight of Jesus’ message of love for our neighbor, the artist confronts American culture’s own history of racial prejudices. Utilizing repetitious images of buses, drinking fountains, school desks, and public toilets, she reminds us that, though we are integrated through the laws of the land, the separations and segregations of our “enlightened” society are not simply part of some far distant past. The wounds of our society remain fresh. Segregation may seem like an institution of the past—or a divide between ancient Israelites and Samaritans—but separation continues to plague our best intentions.