Where do science and religion intersect?

According to artist Cornelia Parker, the two opposites are currently merging in the corner of a room in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco. She calls it Anti-Mass, and the work of art is currently housed at the de Young Museum, gallery 16, to be exact.

Charred remnants

Recently, when a soulful Southern Baptist Church burned to the ground at the hands of arsonists, Cornelia, with permission, collected and reclaimed the charred timbers of the once-vital wood structure. And then, without permission, she began her magical transformation that would, in her own artistic language, fuse science and religion; mind and heart; tangible and spiritual; grounded and otherworldly; violence and reverence into a powerful image, to lure people out of dualism and at least momentarily, into an awareness of the underlying unity of all things.

And how is this possible, you might ask? The answer: magical transformation and communication beyond words, is what art is all about—and where Cornelia Parker’s universe is centered. In the hands of such a gifted artist, the alchemy takes place.

Levitating mass

Creating her masterful message, she chose to hang the charcoal debris from the ceiling by nearly invisible threads, suspending them as if hovering—defying gravity (anti-mass). What was once solid and earthly starts to rise and float in an ethereal form above the floor. Organizing the charred remnants into the shape of a cube in space, she suggests a ghostly outline of the original church. The word “Mass,” carries the double meaning of the physicality of our world, as well as the ritualistic sacrament at the heart of the Christian faith. Contemplating her sculpture from across the room, it’s possible to slip into that mysterious space where the faith of the stalwart, curiously mingles with, and transcends the violent act of arson. A calming sense of profound forgiveness surrounds her work. In fact, this presence of forgiveness is akin to what we felt amid the rebuilding of the Frauenkirche in Dresden Germany.


Art and sculpture aren’t for everyone—we know that. However, the message of transcendence and victory over hatred and destruction hopefully rings true for most of us. Thanks to Cornelia, there’s another voice in the world, reminding us of the infinite power of the unseen, and our collective capacity to shift our focus from hatred to love.

A great message to consider as we step into 2012. In fact, the message is poignant at any time . . . of any year!

You may also enjoy visiting our other websites:

Twenty Paces – Original song and story of forgiveness

The Journey – The Ride of a Lifetime

The UP Side Lowdown by Cheryl

Uncommon Promise Story, Music and Art

New Music – Virtual CD

Uncommon Promise Video Channel

In Touch In Tuscany


About cheryl & emerson

The Ride of a Lifetime! After sixteen years of trying to live in Italy as "true Italians," we set out to write a book about our experiences. As it turns out, we ended up doing a lot more than just writing a book because we decided that to capture the essence, we really needed music, poetry, drawings, videos and more. So, that's exactly what we did. You can find our complete body of work at We hope you can visit us from time to time—let us know what your personal adventure looks like. Perhaps we can all glean some inspiration to go out and write a new chapter in our own stories! Wishing you the best, Cheryl and Emerson
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