We are proud to have been able to host this exhibition which was opened by the acting Governor of the Netherlands Antilles, Mrs. mr. Adèle van der Pluijm-Vrede, and was attended by various religious leaders from all mayor communities in Curaçao.
The title Kere den Arte which literally means ‘to believe in art’ can be easily taken to mean ‘belief in art’. Hence the chosen title has a two-fold meaning: (1) it refers to the theme of the exhibit – the concept of belief in religious art – and as such allows for a scope in which to place the exhibition; and (2) it affirms our solid belief that art is an extraordinary vehicle to elaborate on any theme, in this case religion. The title underlines that we of Landhuis Bloemhof firmly believe in art.
We are aware that the Curaçao community has become the home for many religious beliefs. For this exhibition, however, we chose to limit our scope to Hinduism, Judaism, Catholicism, Islam and Protestantism. To enhance our understanding of and information regarding the various religions, we have consulted with representatives from each of these religious groups. In doing so we hoped to give the exhibition more depth and allow for more insight into the differences and similarities between the diverse religious beliefs. The contacts we have made within each religious community have received us enthusiastically. We are grateful and honored that each has given us insightful explanations, were willing to provide their art or objects on loan, and all committed to lectures.
After deliberations with proponents from the different religions, we understood better how art and religion, the main ‘ingredients’ of our exhibit did not always go well together. For some people their belief categorically forbids imagery, for others art has been the only way to express their convictions. Our challenge was to find the right mix of art and religion to expose a wide spectrum of beliefs in a limited space using artwork available to us, doing justice to each religion’s principles.
At the core of this exhibition lies the concept of Symbolism as a direct consequence of the need to create images to express personal beliefs. As more and more people create these images, the similarities and differences between these images eventually form a wide-spread accepted visual image that becomes a symbol. In the case of religion, symbols such as the Ohm sign, the Star of David, the Cross and the Crescent Moon and Star have become almost universally known to represent Hinduism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam respectively. Other religious symbols, such as biblical figures, are only recognized in smaller circles. The symbolic role of the figures and images themselves is also of interest when looking at religious art. As such also the (apparent) absence of art and symbolism in some beliefs is dealt with.
To further elaborate on the theme and the exhibit, we organized a workshop for high school students, and offered a weekly guided tour, a lecture series and storytelling afternoons for young and old at Landhuis Bloemhof, furthermore selected reading material was available in our library.