Thursday, March 1, 2012

Station 7 - Jesus Falls For the Second Time

Station 7 - Jesus Falls For The Second Time

This piece was originally created by Jackson Potts II, for a collection of works hanging in Xnihilo Gallery. The installation is a modern take on the traditional Stations of the Cross, and the gallery requested 15 artists to each depict one of the stations. Due to reasons which will be explained in subsequent posts, the gallery was not able to hang this piece. We invite you to view it here and to comment upon it.

Here is Jackson's artist statement.

Jesus Falls for the Second Time.
When I came up with this idea for my piece, one of the things that I wanted to show was that Jesus was innocent, and the crowd still wanted him to die. So I used a child (my brother Dietrich) to show the innocence of Jesus and how wrong it was for him to be treated that way. The police officer was just doing his job, as was the guard that was escorting Jesus to Skull Hill. The crowd was angry and violent except the one girl in the blue dress, who represents the people who loved Jesus.

Jackson Potts II
I am 10 years old and have been apprenticing in photography for the last year and a half, and have now been on over 100 professional shoots. I've also done a few of my own shoots, including a wedding. I am still learning to control light and understand how to use it to create different effects. I am planning to be a professional photographer when I grow up, working alongside my dad.

I would like to thank:
Carol Wagener, for helping with makeup advice.
Rona Lamont, for the costuming of the police officer.
The Crowd, for showing up early on that cold morning.
Dietrich, for getting cold and sticky with fake blood.
Kevin Dean, for taking my direction and getting up extra early.
Dad, for helping with my lighting diagram, and driving me all over.
My mom, for everything.

We invite you to leave your comments. Please view the other posts on this blog for more information about the story, as well as comments from persons involved.


  1. I think the church has every right to show what they want to, or not. Ironically, Ecclesia catches hell for being too liberal all the time. Now they're catching it for being too conservative.

    I can easily see how this could be misinterpreted as a blanket "Cops Suck" statement though I don't interpret it that way.

    At any rate Jackson is clearly talented, and if one is going to be true to their "muse" then they will meet resistance. So, I think this is a good experience for him, and he's actually lucky that it's blown up so big. (Many people just get a quiet rebuff from their elementary art teacher, or from a closed-minded audience, and never create again.)


  2. Jackson, keep up the good work. I am sorry your piece is not on display at the church. I respect the arts, and all the controversy sometimes associated with it. Don't let this get you down. Twenty years from now, you will look back at this piece and say, remember when I was ten and I couldn't display this work. Dietrich was the one most disappointed. He worked hard to get the right pose, etc.. The elders wouldn't let me display it because some children might get the wrong message. Oh, those were the days. You get the picture. Be strong.

  3. I think it has been fascinating to see and read a lot of the comments generated by the news article on this piece.

    It is a very powerful photograph made even more so when we find out that the artist - Jackson - is only 10 years old. The depth of his work is emphasized by the depth of the questions it raises for all of us and for me, some of those questions are:

    1.) Considering the context of the installation, have our conversations around this piece ultimately become more about the "art" than about "Christ" and is that a result of the work itself or the controversy around it not being displayed?

    2.) What responsibility do we as a society have to protect the innocence of our children and how much of a refuge from the violence of the world around us should the church be?

    3.) How important is truth creating art (especially photography) and is it a line that shifts with the sands of time?

    4.) What would our response to the photograph be if it had been done by an adult?

    There are lots of other questions & issues this piece brings to mind for me such as - the violence that children experience in other parts of the world (child soldiers and child trafficking come to mind) but the 4 above are the ones that seem to float to the top for me at the moment (given the context of the installation and the space it occupies).

    Grace & peace,


    [Full Disclosure: I also have an installation as part the exhibit and I attend services at Ecclesia.]

  4. jackson, we knew you when you were a baby, and it's really an honor to see what you have created now as a young man. it's even more incredible to me to see the thought process you put into creating this photo. when i saw it in the news article, it was so small, and i wondered how it might affect me if i saw an enlarged version. and now that i've seen the larger version, i have to say it took my breath away. i didn't notice the girl in the blue coat before, but seeing her made me actually tear up.

    and all this from a child (even though i'm sure most days you don't feel like a child...most 10 year olds don't).

    what makes me the saddest for you, though, is that you were invited to share something and now this outpouring of your creativity (and obvious love for Jesus) isn't being honored.

    i am deeply disappointed that a church we helped start--one that was intended to be edgy--is now putting these kinds of parameters on its art.

    keep your chin up, jackson. you have a truly amazing gift.

  5. Not only an amazing photograph, but an amazing thought process behind it. The artist's statement alone is better written than what I see from adults 95% of the time. Adults don't give kids enough credit for what they are capable of understanding without being frightened.

  6. Thanks for everyone's comments so far. I've been drafting a post that will shed some light on the discussion behind the process that resulted in not installing the photograph as part of the show. I do hope that you'll check back to read it.

    - Marc Brubaker
    Curator, Xnihilo Gallery

  7. Jackson,

    You are very talented. And I love that you are using that talent to tell the story of Jesus. I understand the issue that Ecclesia has with the photo. It is disturbing. There is no getting around that. But, Truth is hard to see. It's hard and it's not pretty. Our sin is not pretty. So, while I don't fault Eclessia for making the decision they feel is best, I also want to encourage you to continue to communicate truth how you feel led. Jesus told us that people would be offended by Truth. So continue to create art that points people to Christ and as you do, hold it very loosely. Don't find your worth in people's opinion of your art. Your worth is in Christ and He loves you.

  8. Great job, Jackson! I especially love the girl in the blue dress. See you at Imago.

  9. One of my primary definitions of what makes 'good art' is that it gets people talking. So, it is clear that Jackson's piece has done just that. I am confident he has an amazing future ahead of him. Our exhibit for the Stations of The Cross is not actually an art exhibit - it is prayerful and meditative guide through lent and holy week and this provocative piece does not work as a prayer station for many reasons. Not least of these is the fact that a member in our church (teenage boy)was shot and killed by a Police Officer in his own home exactly one year ago. You can imagine that this piece would be very disturbing to that family. We have communicated all of this with great honor for Jackson as an artist and a deep desire to demonstrate the love of Jesus to those hurting most in our community. I would hope that all parties involved could respect this difficult decision. Blessings!

  10. Yes, an artist indeed- he can only look into the success his future will bring- Jackson is a young and talented artist, too bad his work could not be exhibited, however we must remember that religion and art have gone hand in hand throughout the years...Actually we cannot mention the names of the people that built "The Great Cathedrals"- These are mammoth works of art that read "builder:unknown". They completed things without knowing that anyone will notice. Some of these cathedrals took over 100 years to build- day after day they showed up doing personal sacrifises for no credit- Just because they knew God was watching and they had faith in him, they sacrificed themselves in name of him. One unknown builder wrote: "No Great Cathedral will ever be built again, because so few people are willing to sacrifice themselves to this extent"...
    I congratulate Jackson... and I thank him for reminding me in his piece, that man is not as kind as God and that the stations of the Cross are a reminder of Jesus Christ's pain and sacrifice -not in vain- for we continue to give thanks, we continue to pray, listen and follow his words.

  11. @ chrisseay
    so there is something in you statement I don’t understand and maybe I am the only one. So I understand the issue with the one family you mentioned and from the Curators Blog Entry it sounds like he delicately handled the situation and came to an agreement between the family and the artist to hang the station with a curtain in front of the image with a warning of the graphic nature of the piece, which also would take care of the young children 2-5 yrs old who would not comprehend the piece, and older children’s parent could explain the meaning to them if needed.

    So with that said what other reasons make this piece not a prayerfully meditative piece? For me it is obvious how this piece is a tool for a prayerful meditation on “Jesus falling for the Second Time”, where as the image representing “Jesus Falling for the Third Time” is not obvious how it is a prayerful meditation on the station. Unfortunately I have not been able to see the image in context with the scripture or the artist statement, maybe then it will be more clear.

    I am interested in yours or anyone’s thought that could help me better understand an appropriate vs inappropriate image for a “prayerful meditative journey through lent and Holy week”?


  12. there are many discrepancies between the accounts of Chris, the media and Marc.

    It sounds as if the church does not even know if this was an art exhibit or something else.

    If it was something else, was this communicated clearly to a 10 year old?

    If this was something else, were there parameters set clearly by the elders?

    Where the parameters spelled out that no disturbing images would be allowed, especially those that could offend children?

    Why was the curator in charge of the communication, if this was not an art exhibit? Shouldn't the elders and pastor be doing this?

    it seems as if, since this was not an art exhibit, the elders should have been part of the process the whole time and checked in with all artists, looking at everything and approving things (including ideas) along the way.

    If this was for church and not an exhibit, do you seriously think the elders should not have been checking in on a 10 year old? That smacks of incompetence.

    Sadly, coming so late the idea that this was for the children smacks of an excuse or afterthought. if they had been the primary concern, this would have been handled differently from the beginning.

    I think someone wanted to eat their cake and then have it, but realized they had not done their homework.

    The fault of this avoidable situation lay at the feet of the elders and pastor. They should repent to the artist and take responsibility for their lack of planning, consideration, communication and maturity.
    I hope Marc is not made to fall on his sword for something clearly the fault of the elders and leadership of the church. This is the danger when the church USES art. It should SUPPORT art and artists, not trying to get them to create propaganda. This is why many artists don't trust the church.

  13. a bit of satire related to the topic:

  14. Reading this discussion, reminded me of an earlier one my circle had about the participation of children in our religious patterns. A friend of mine wrote this in that dialog:

    "Kierkegaard specifically addresses the question of children and Christianity again in Either/Or, but does so through the persona of Johannes Climacus, making interpretation rather tricky. Climacus does not think that the “painful rigors” of Christianity should be inflicted on children, and is appalled that the cultural solution to this problem is to offer children a version of Christianity purged of those painful rigors, which means purged of Christianity itself. For Climacus, a child is as immersed in despair as an adult, but has no consciousness of this despair."

    Jackson, to the extent that this interaction has introduced you to the painful rigors of being a person of spirit in the midst of a broken world, you have my sympathy. It does not get any easier, but your not alone.

  15. This comment has been removed by the author.

  16. Re: s

    I'll try to answer your queries as best I can.

    - It is an art exhibit. However, the gallery is also the same space within which the church meets. Thus, the congregation & community must be kept in mind as well.

    - Jackson's father, Jack, has created pieces for previous iterations of this exhibit. Thus being the case, we had no reason to distrust his supervision during the creation of said piece. This, I hope, will negate your incompetence argument.

    - It is my duty, as curator, to check in with the artists as they progress on pieces for this show. I did email everyone and ask for their plans as well as images of the work in progress. Unfortunately, as is often the case, I received very few responses.

    - Upon my seeing the image, I related it as allegory. I personally do not have children, and thus my immediate thought processes/concerns are different from someone with a child. I wasn't even aware of the circumstances surrounding the Hobart family, which were brought to my attention later in the day. As such, my objective view upon receiving the piece was just that - an objective view of it as art. And I think it's quite good at conveying its metaphor.

    I hope that you do not think we are "using" artists - we do strive to support them.

    - Marc Brubaker
    Curator, Xnihilo Gallery

  17. Marc,

    I am sorry you felt slighted in my response. As I said, I don't want you to fall on your sword and I feel most, if not all, the fault lay at the feet of the elders of the church.

    You say it was an art exhibit. Your pastor says it was not.

    He says, "Our exhibit for the Stations of The Cross is not actually an art exhibit - it is prayerful and meditative guide through lent and holy week"

    Therein lies my rub, and the reason for my entire response. You and he had differing ideas of what this was. I do not believe it was communicated to you well enough if it was not to be an exhibit.

    I believe you wanted to support artists. I see the elders of the church with a different agenda. it may be a good agenda, but it is where this conflict arose.

    You had an idea that this was an art exhibit and trusted Jack. They had an idea that children were not to be offended and should have made the guidelines plain to you and the artists. if they have ultimate authority, they MUST make guidelines.

    I feel the incompetence lies in the elders giving away their responsibilities to you and then grabbing them back when they did not do their due diligence.

    I still feel the church is using artists to further its agenda without proper support. This is such an example, but I feel you were caught in the middle attempting to support artists and now must deal with the consequences set in motion by others.

    The church elders and pastor need to set better guidelines and need to be honest with themselves and their responsibilities. It seems that you have become a scapegoat, even if that puts you into honored company at Easter.

    maybe Chris should respond since he says it was not an exhibit and you say it was. This difference is where the impasse is for some of us.

  18. It seems pretty cut-and-dry to me. The gallery is inside a church, and the picture is too edgy for the church management. No need to blame anybody, as nobody could have known it was too edgy until they actually saw it.

    I'm not usually one to side with Ecclesia when I hear second-hand about the drama-du-jour that's going on there, but in this case the continuing critics of their decision are proving the adage "no good deed does unpunished".

    98% of churches wouldn't even entertain the idea of putting congregation, let alone community, submitted art up on a regular basis. Ecclesia "thinks outside the box" and does it, and then people act like there's some kind of divine right to have art put up on the walls, whether it passes their muster or not.


  19. Well Said Ryan. unfortunatley when you "think outside the box" and try new things or approach things from a different way, it doesn't alway work and sometime it gets messy.

    Re: S

    The Artist Release that artists are required to sign in order to show their work in Xnihilo Gallery states "Xnihilo, Ecclesia, and any of its agents or representatives reserve the right to remove any piece of artwork from showing at any time if deemed to be inappropriate or not in keeping with the values of Xnihilo and/or Ecclesia, including the entire body of the Artist's work."

    Eric Hartley
    Former Curator and Member of the Gallery's Board of Directors

  20. I would like to thank everyone for their opinions
    agree, disagree, happy, to hate. thank all of you for taking the time to think

    please feel free to ask other people what they think of the image, if you do are their reactions as you expected, or the opposite.

    some of you may not know about other conversations going on so i just thought i would share

    new links

    here is the link to the podcast of the show on KPRC where they discussed Jackson's piece:

    Blogger for the Conical

    Blogger for the Conical

    old links
    Houston Conical

    Also, a blog has been started for Jackson's Piece.

  21. Is this photo for sale? I'd like to order a signed large print if it is.

  22. As a professional photographer that just submitted a piece to my own church's Stations of the Cross exhibit, I commend Jackson's work. Objectively, I could see that it wasn't specifically about cops but about authority figures in general. Such is the power of photography that the public has a hard time seeing allegory, because it can't get past the REAL PEOPLE in the photos. We know paintings represent an artist's view, but we still believe photographs to be real depictions of real life.

    As for "prayerful and meditative," considering some of the scenes of the stations, I don't see how they can be any less than brutal. Tell me how you depict Jesus falling and being beaten? Is Jackson's work any more brutal than or ?

    I hope that this event shows Jackson the power real art has, that it's more powerful that the average person can comprehend. It's a good lesson to learn at such a young age.

  23. I posted this comment elsewhere, I figured I would put it here as well:

    I am the artist's mother, and I can completely understand why the idea that a 10 year old came up with the concept and created this piece is hard to believe. My husband is a photographer, and Jackson has been apprenticing with him for nearly 2 years now. (He'll proudly tell you that he has been on over 100 professional shoots, as my husband's assistant.) When my husband has interns working with him, some of whom have nearly completed an undergraduate degree in photography, he has often found that Jackson is more knowledgeable about the technical aspects of photography than the intern. Since Jackson could talk, my husband would quiz him in the car about what makes up exposure and other photography stuff. Anyhow, when I heard the idea for the photograph, I questioned whether my husband had influenced the direction the piece took. After talking to Jackson about it at length, I was satisfied that he had created the concept. He used my husband's professional lighting gear and equipment, but made a lighting diagram beforehand to detail how he would use them. On the morning of the shoot he chose how the lights would be set up, and had already chosen how the subjects would be posed, as he had story-boarded the shot with sketches. It is completely his piece--I also am irritated when I see parents doing their child's work and passing it off as the kid's. But that didn't happen here. We did not contact the press, someone else who heard about the situation mentioned it to a friend who works at the Chronicle, who decided it was an interesting story. I'm not a photographer, I am a concrete-sequential thinking nurse who is a big fan of honesty and credit where credit is due. It's a pretty simple thought process he went through, and I honestly don't think he fully comprehends how powerful the piece is for some people. (in either a good or bad way) I realize that as his mother I'm not too terribly objective, but these are the facts from someone personally involved. People who know Jackson have no doubt that it is his work. The church and gallery absolutely have the right to decline to hang the piece, it is simply inconsistent with the content of their past shows and other pieces that they have shown. (And I agree that the article wasn't particularly well-written.)

  24. I Cannot believe that a 10 year old boy did this. It is absolutely AMAZING! The thought process that must have gone through his mind to come up with a shot this vivid, telling this much of a story is brilliant.
    Jackson, don't let what the church did about your art discourage you. It happens to the best of us. Just keep doing what you're doing. It's wonderful!

  25. As the saying goes, "there is no such thing as bad publicity". I can only imagine the amount of press and interest that Jackson has generated as an emerging artist at such a young age. It has been proven that throughout the ages those who at one time were labeled as geniuses, heretics, eccentrics or otherwise are often the ones who were ahead of their time are are now celebrated for their ideas: Galileo, da Vinci, Aristotle, etc.

    At about the time Jackson was born in early 2000, there was an exhibit in Brooklyn, New York called "Sensation" from the collection of Charles Saatchi. Among the pieces labeled controversial was a photo depicting a crucifix that had been submerged in urine by the artist. While some saw this work as gross or disgusting, others such as those from the church saw the work as depicting what society did to Jesus and how in current times we are losing faith or taking God for granted.

    What Jackson's image has done is it has people talking about religion and faith in a way they probably haven't talked about for a very long time. I can understand the church's point of view in not wanting to display it, which I'm sure was a decision they did not take lightly. The work was not created for the sake of creating something that would make headlines. It was created because the young artist wanted to make a modern day statement about persecution in a symbolic manner. To create such a stir at such a young age...BRAVO!!! I wish Jackson was one of my art students!

  26. Great piece; wrong venue. Simple as that. Oh, and it's the venue's loss, not yours. Illegitimi non carborundum kiddo! Keep up the great work.

  27. Good work! And I say that as the mom of another talented young photographer who has been taking pictures since he was 2 and exhibiting in galleries since he was seven. He is 14 now and has won several awards for his photographs and recently was accepted into the Multimedia Arts and Design Academy at his high school. Keep it up. Live your dream! :) And don't let other people's fears and prejudices stop you from being true to your own artistic vision.

  28. Jackson your art work is incredible should you ever want to sell any in any form please let the whole world know. You have stood the world on its ear. I encourage you to keep moving forward
    You are a genius. I only wish that most adults were as half as smart as you are.

  29. The boys father, who is a photographer... had absolutely NOTHING to do with dreaming up and setting up this shot.
    A 10 year old boy conceived it all on his own.


  30. The perfection of the photo is caught by the significance of the little girl staring at the crowd; waiting for them to do something.

    As displeased we are with government entities, not just some roman soldier beating Christ, but a fact that beats us all; while our children watch us in conflict; we are deaf. Albeit a priest assaulting children, this photo captures a TRUST a in any adults is readily apparent for me personally.

    Having been raised catholic, I no longer practice a blasphemous bigoted hypocrisy. I like that his photo impacts me from the child mind, not the corrupt adult psyche. Feelings of contempt for man's law, personally impact me when at his age, my stepfather a police officer beat my mother and her calls to 911 were ignored. My calls for help while in school were ignored, another more recent call for help in reporting a stolen motorcycle were ignored.

    Tell you what, many taxes go to too many well paid people who don't care about their jobs, while the ones working hard are enslaved by those who take advantage of that weakness; exploit it, and keep it under wraps while the rip off occurs; on the personal level. Might the meek actually reap what the strong always keep? I think not.

    Thanks Jackson, keep that stop action eye perfected. I wish you the best and keep your child mind to the end. You rock me, for a personal reason. I don't follow, I don't lead, I just keep up, but your might was very well done with this 1000 words!

    A bothered cabby....GG

  31. It's lovely...your interpretation is indeed childlike but you possess a wisdom that is beyond your years.

    I, too, am interested in a signed copy. But I'm wondering if you'll print in black and white? Just out of curiosity. If not, I still would love to purchase this.

    Again...beautiful job!!! Kudos to your parents for nurturing and encouraging your artistry.

    Best Wishes,

  32. Hi Jackson,
    Although it is definitely a controversial piece, I get it. I can't wait for you to keep working on your talents and see what else you have to offer!

  33. I've seen depictions of the stations of the cross in countless museums in several countries. Yet I am more moved and taken with this vision than any other. It is brutal, compassionate, expressive, technically superior and, most importantly, impossible to ignore. I eagerly await seeing your ongoing growth and fearless observations of your world.

  34. I looked at your photograph for less than 10 seconds and what struck me immediately was the little girl looking at the adults. If this was done with forethought Jackson than the image has done its work. How often do children know, correctly, about what is right and wrong. And how often does this inner sense get invalidated by the adults they look to for signs, blurred out and finally obliterated in societal prejudice. That is all I have to say.

  35. You are amazing. Where can I see this piece? I read in the Wall Street Journal that it was on display in Houston till April 25th, where is it now?