Kelly Latimore’s Icons Show Marginalized People As Saints

In yesterday’s post, I reflected on an image by Everett Patterson called “José y María,” in which the earthly parents of Jesus Christ are shown as modern day Hispanic immigrants. In today’s post, I want to highlight the art of Kelly Latimore, an artist based in St. Louis whose works are very much in the same vein as Patterson’s image.

In Christian iconography, Jesus is often presented as white, despite that fact that he most certainly would’ve had much darker skin. The people in Latimore’s icons are often, though not always, marginalized people of brown or black skin, shown with a halo. The icons that move me the most are those depicting families that, again, cause us to see not just their humanity, but also their holiness. The main messages that I get from his icons are (1) that all life is sacred and should be protected and (2) Christ himself can be found when we encounter suffering people. Below are my favorite icons, along with some of my thoughts. (All of the below images are simply embedded from posts on Latimore’s Facebook page.)

In “Tent City Nativity,” we see an encampment of homeless people in the downtown area of a large city. While the rest of the city is protected from the cold, these people are relatively unprotected in their tents. Nonetheless, they show compassion for each other, bringing the small family gifts of blankets, coffee, and food instead of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. The large star over the scene is another reminder of the birth of Jesus.

The title of “La Sagrada Familia” makes us think of Mary, Joseph, and Jesus, but this holy family appears to be Hispanic immigrants, perhaps crossing the border with little to their name. How often we forget that the original Holy Family were outsiders in a strange land when Christ was born!

This icon, entitled “Holy Family of the Streets,” also shows a small, probably Hispanic family, trying to make themselves comfortable and warm in a strange land.

I really like “La presentación de Cristo en el templo” because it shows what is most likely a small town in Mexico, with humble people, some of whom are advanced in age. Interestingly, the child’s mother is la Virgen de Guadalupe herself.

“Our Lady of the Journey” focuses on a Hispanic mother and her infant child. The look of anxiety on her face is apparent as she makes her way through a desert at night.

“Mother of God: Protectress of the Oppressed” makes us think of those heartbreaking stories of the incarceration of Hispanic immigrants on our Southern border and the separation of their families.

Not all of Latimore’s subjects are Hispanic. He does have paintings of canonized saints, like Saint Francis. He also has numerous works of famous people who may not be official saints in the Catholic church, but who are presented as holy people, such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., whose day we celebrate today. I would guess that his most controversial work is an icon called “Mama,” in which George Floyd is presented as Christ being held by his mother after being taken down from the cross.

If you’re interested in seeing all of his works, be sure to visit his Instagram page and follow his Twitter feed. His homepage also includes a store where one can buy signed prints of his works at very reasonable prices, as well as candles and calendars of his icons, and more.

If you enjoyed this post, please consider sharing it on your favorite social media. ¡Gracias!

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