written by art historian & curator Mihaela Manolache
Religion, throughout human history, has been a defining characteristic of cultural identity for numerous societies and communities. Today it continues to shape beliefs, values, and practices, reflecting a deep-rooted connection between religion and culture. The sense of belonging and connection that individuals feel through religion towards a particular culture is expressed uniquely for each society. This is a multifaceted concept that encompasses various factors and experiences and provides an understanding of who individuals are and how they relate to the world around them. However, misconceptions often arise surrounding this relationship, leading to misunderstandings and biases. If we were to explore the concept of religion as a cultural identity, one will see that the subject gives birth to contradictory debates and forms certain attitudes towards religion and automatically, towards involved societies.
Paintings, sculptures, and murals have been used to depict religious stories and narratives. These visual representations inspire devotion and reinforce the cultural identity associated with a particular religion. In modern times, art continues to influence religious cultural identity through contemporary interpretations and expressions. This issue is also addressed by artists who wish to make a change as art can significantly influence religious identity and its understanding. Through their work, artists can break stereotypes and help people broaden their horizons. A wider understanding of religion enriched in meaning, and history and adapted to the contemporary context, can transform it into a powerful tool for community progression and individual well-being. Contemporary art has the potential to address extremist ideologies and religious fundamentalism by promoting dialogue, critical thinking, and empathy. While art alone may not completely eliminate them, it can play a role in fostering a more open and tolerant society.
What is Cultural Identity
Cultural identity refers to the sense of belonging and connection that individuals and communities feel towards a particular culture or cultural group. It is a multifaceted concept that encompasses…