As Noah heads towards theatrical release March 28, religious groups along with entire countries, including Turkey, have objected to filmmaker Darren Aronofsky’s re-envisioning of the world’s most famous flood. But a companion art show, pegged to Paramount Pictures’ $130 million spectacle, celebrates the notion that an event of biblical proportions can inspire multiple variations on a single Old Testament theme.
Fountains of The Deep: Visions of Noah and the Flood, curated by Aronofsky, features paintings, drawings, photographs, and sculptures that filter the ancient catastrophe through the sensibilities of 50 contemporary artists.
Contributors include painter Asad Faulwell, who offered a portrait of a weary post-flood Noah after being invited by Aronofsky via email to take part in the show. “All Darren asked was that we go back and read the story of Noah,” Faulwell recalls. “He was open to any interpretation we had to offer, which is why I think there is such aesthetic diversity in the show.”
Artist Patrick McNeil produced the exhibition’s quilt-inspired Never Before, Never Again collage with Patrick Miller, his Brooklyn-based Faile partner. He observes, “If you think about it on a deeper level, the Bible itself is an interpretation, right? These are not first-hand stories where somebody’s saying ‘I was on the boat and here’s what happened.'”
When Faile started researching Noah’s Ark, McNeil says, “We learned the boat itself is described in different ways. Some people describe it as a round boat, shaped like a disc. Some describe the boat as a box. There’s all sorts of interpretations. I’ve noticed that religious groups say (about the movie) ‘That’s not an accurate description of what happened,’ but who’s to say what’s really accurate?”
In its homage to Noah, the Faile duo conceptualized a two-panel diptych to “incorporate the idea of ‘two by two,'” explains McNeil. “We also took the idea of Noah being a carpenter and decided to use wood material in the piece .”
McNeil pulled from previous work to update what he sees as an underlying theme in the Noah’s Ark story. “There’s an image in the piece of a guy who’s crouched over as if he lost something. That was done during the financial collapse of 2008. It’s about people who place a value on what they’re worth through how many possessions they have. I think the story of Noah has to do with God coming down because of greed and people fighting and all these kinds of things.”
Check out the slide show for a sampling of works from Fountains of the Deep: Visions of Noah and the Flood, which runs through March 29 at 462 West Broadway in New York City.