Flashes of Glory—and Brutality

A conversation with artist Kieran Dodds and academic Christian Gonzalez Ho on their new exhibit, ancient pilgrimage sites, and the church of the future.

This interview is a special collaboration with Ekstasis, CT’s imaginative NextGen project, and originally appeared in the Ecstatic Newsletter, an extension of Ekstasis on Substack. Together, we’re building a digital cathedral that offers space to ponder and lift our eyes to Christ in wonder.

As you scroll through this story, you are embarking on a form of pilgrimage.

We tap incessantly at our phones for the same reason our forebears traveled repeatedly to the Holy Land, says art historian Christian Gonzalez Ho: to commune with something greater than ourselves, to express a “longing to go to another place, or to have another place reach [us].”

Gonzalez Ho and photographer Kieran Dodds are the creators of a new exhibit, “Heading Home: Glimpses of New Jerusalem,” running this fall and winter at the Ahmanson Gallery in Irvine, California. Featuring Dodds’s photographs of pilgrimage sites on the route between London and Jerusalem, placed in an interactive gallery space designed by Gonzalez Ho, “Heading Home” asks us to revisit the ancient practice of pilgrimage and consider its relationship with contemporary Christianity.

Images of stops along the pilgrimage route—the Florence Duomo, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre—are paired with sound installations and physical structures that reinterpret the experience of interacting with each site. Christianity Today spoke with Dodds and Gonzalez Ho about the possibilities and challenges of interpreting these sites for modern believers.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

Let’s start with the origins of this exhibit. Why did you two choose to focus on this topic for this moment?

Kieran Dodds: I was invited on this …

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