Looking and looking again: Alice Maher and John 12:1-11

Posted: Monday March 25 2013 in Lent
Alice Maher, Ombres 170 x 370cm Charcoal on paper

Alice Maher, Ombres 170x370cm Charcoal on paper

The Irish Museum of modern Art recently presented the work of Alice Maher in the National Concert Hall. I went to be mesmerised, recalling other times I have seen her work. I recently tried to describe her drawings of hair and found that words fail to communicate the complex simplicity and mesmerising ordinariness of her work. She pays attention to something common and through painstaking – for such it must be – strokes invites the viewer to meet someone.

The Gospel describes the lavish attention Mary gave to Jesus.  To the superficial view, it was a waste of resources, and extravagance. Can we imagine how Jesus saw her action? Surely he more than tolerated her aromatherapy; he saw it for what it was: the wholehearted response of somebody who knew who he was and who was comfortable with who she herself was.  Mary, pray for us.

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