Understanding the Role of Art Today


A personal goal of mine is to better understand the role that art plays in society’s construction of its own identity, and therefore its progression and growth in to the future. If art reflects the people who lived during the time of its creation, then Laura Fisher Smith’s icons should give each of us cause to stop and re-evaluate our priorities.

Art records the evidence of a society’s existence. Smith’s icons of the homeless, such as the one seen above, proclaim what she values most, and bluntly reveal her concern for the marginalized, the sick and the needy. With a creative vision filled with both mercy and advocacy, she paints individual persons who are homeless with a dignity and grace once reserved for saints.

Most loving God,

as your desire for mercy for the poor is unrelenting,

may we be unrelenting in our pursuit of mercy for all;

as your compassion for the suffering of the poor knows no limit,

may our hearts overflow with compassion for all;

as you long for justice for the poor,

may we strive for justice for all.

Open our eyes to the structures of oppression from which we benefit,

and give us courage to accept our responsibility,

wisdom to chart a sound course amid complexity,

and perseverance to continue our work until it is finished.

Breathe your life-giving Spirit afresh into your Church

to free us from apathy and indifference;

through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

[The Episcopalians for Global Reconciliation Prayer]

About the Artist: Laura is a graphic artist, painter and iconographer. An active member of the Episcopal Church and the Visual Arts, her work was displayed during worship at the 2006 General Convention. Laura draws icons for contemplative prayer and offers them for sale at www.ikonarts.net, with the net proceeds from sales of all icons, prints, cards and commissions go to relieve extreme poverty through participation in the Millennium Development Goals. She lives in Phoenix, with her husband, the Rt. Rev. Kirk Smith, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Arizona. She is a Founding member of the Board of Episcopalians for Global Reconciliation.

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