“Spirit in the Sky “ is the third in a multi-part series by noted artist Jana Cruder that explores the tensions created between the mainstream Christian mores and the counterculture movements of the mid ‘60s — a clash that’s reignited in our current “culture wars, “ as many of us are questioning the core of our beliefs and seeking our own path to awakening outside the cultural norm.
I chose Barbie as the subject of the essay, because she’s one of our most powerful contemporary icons of “perfection,” along with so many pre-packaged assumptions about what perfection is. I was raised in a strict Christian household, and like many of us, I grew up viewing Barbie as a perfect woman with a perfect life, and the model for what my own life should look like. But in the wake of some serious life events, I came to question the core of what shaped my beliefs.
In this series, Barbie, as a representative of those cultural ideals of “perfection,” is forced to make choices that challenge her role in culture and in relationship, resulting in her questioning what she has come to call Truth. On her journey, she confronts the stigma of female sexuality, the forbidden knowledge of the Shamans, the pull to continue her commitment to her religion, her experience of Jesus as a man who comes with his own set of patriarchal baggage, and the reality that breaking free of the rigid constructs of western spirituality is more challenging and elusive than it seems.
The first two parts of the series, along with more images from “Spirit in the Sky,” are available at JanaCruderFineArt.com.
ABOUT THE ARTIST: Jana Cruder is a LA based fine artist exploring themes of sexuality, gender roles, media constructs, and human relationships with the environment and technology. See more of her work, including more of this series, at Janacruderfineart.com.