12/22/2014 01:53 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

The Importance of Non-European Christian Imagery

I recently began creating non-traditional depictions of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Baby Jesus. And by "non-traditional," I mean non-European. Below is an Indian ("Madonna and Child as Indians") and Japanese ("Madonna and Child as Japanese") depiction respectively. I got plenty of inspiration from images I saw online, and then added my own spin.



Just to be clear, I'm not creating these alternative cultural depictions to be gimmicky.

I have a deep, personal appreciation for such images because they have helped me better grasp the universality of our God and His plan for mankind. I am ethnically Chinese and grew up in Muslim-majority Indonesia. For years, I was subconsciously frustrated and estranged by singularly European depictions of Christian figures.

As my friend Christopher wisely said, it was healthy for Europeans to try to depict religious figures in terms familiar to their culture, but unfortunate that imperialism forced those depictions on the rest of the world.

I'm hoping to work on Chinese and Indonesian versions next, because of these cultures' special closeness to my own heritage and identity.

I hope these images will be a blessing to your journey as they have been to my own! Have a most blessed and wonderful Advent!

This post was originally published on Under Reconstruction. You can follow Karen's blog or her art on Facebook.