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gold colored block
Japanese Buddhist sculpture by Thomas Matsuda. Photo by Thomas Matsuda.
Saint Anthony's Feast, Boston's North End, 1999. Photo by Maggie Holtzberg.
Russian icon by Ksenia Pokrovsky, 2000. Photo by Jason Dowdle.
decorative arrows
Massachusetts is home to people of many faiths including Roman Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Muslim, Russian and Greek Orthodox, Buddhist, and Hindu. Each creed has a long tradition of expressing its religious belief in material form.
For some, making religious art forges a powerful connection to their homeland, cultural identity, or faith. For others, skills learned at work — a fisherman tying knots or a carpenter working with wood — can be used to express personal religious devotion.
Throughout history, people have gone to tremendous lengths, and in some cases risked their lives, to make sacred art in spite of persecution. Massachusetts has a long history of providing refuge for those seeking religious freedom. Once here, artists have the freedom to express their religious beliefs. As Yary Livan, a ceramicist originally from Cambodia, describes: "In Pol Pot time, my art spirit was almost dead. Now, my art spirit is big, is strong, is on fire!"
The works seen here create sacred spaces: some privately in homes and others
All of these objects invite spiritual contemplation
publicly in churches, temples, and mosques. They also mark sacred time for holidays, rituals, or ceremonies. All of these objects invite spiritual contemplation.