When Statues Look Annoyed

I realize before I begin here that this is totally a First World Problem so please understand that it is not a major thing going on in my life, nor is it anywhere near a big problem (I have lots of much bigger problems, trust me) but it’s just a minor blip that I wondered if anyone else has run into.

One of the places I go to Mass regularly has installed a big Mary statue in the main worship space. It’s not some “modern” depiction of Mary, it’s a lifelike statue, good workmanship, I suspect it may be older or from another church and was donated or perhaps provided cheap to the chapel where it is. I pray in front of it a couple times a week.

The thing is, this Mary statue has an annoyed expression on her face. The statue bears a physical resemblance to a couple of people from my childhood - one a teacher, another a classmate - who were often kind of disdainful of me in grade school, and they would get this same pursey-faced look as the chubby-cheeked Mary statue has. I’m more used to Mary statues having a sweet or neutral expression rather than them looking like someone about to scold.

I’ve thought perhaps it’s a motivation to pray for these “difficult” people from my past and also maybe Mary is being annoyed with the state of the world, and also I know Mother Mary would not be annoyed with me kneeling before her to sincerely pray and that I’m free to picture Mary looking like any one of the other thousands of images I’ve seen of her in my life or as something from my own imagination. But I just can’t help noticing this pursey-faced Mary.

Anybody else had a statue in their life that was traditionally made (i.e. not some bizarre piece of “modern” art) but that just looked “off” to them? This is a first for me.

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I’ve seen that on a St. Francis statue in a church I visited.

I figured the sculptor just sneezed when he was doing the finishing touches.

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Glad I’m not the only one. I keep telling myself I’m being petty, but can’t help noticing. I’ve taken to looking at the statue’s bare feet (which are at eye level if I use the kneeler in front of her) when I pray, just to keep from being distracted.

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You’re not the only one.

I have a picture of the Divine Mercy on my nightstand.

Sometimes it looks like Jesus is annoyed with me.

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I don’t think I’ve ever seen any statue or picture of the Virgin Mary wearing an expression of annoyance or reproval, but I’ve noticed that St. Jerome is often depicted looking up from his work with narrowed eyes and an expression that says, “You’ve interrupted my chain of thought just as I was struggling to find the right Latin word for a particularly tricky Hebrew verb.”

image

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He had a reputation for being bad-tempered though, so it fits. He reputedly carried around a rock with which he hit himself whenever he lost his temper.
He’s not supposed to be the Loving Mother of All Humans.

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The International (I believe it was) statue of Our Lady of Fatima came to our Church on one of the “tours” and when they took the statue out of the van her eyes looked very dark like she had been crying. I know that sounds crazy but she did look so sad. This statue has been known to change head positions in photos. I felt very uneasy with her looking so sad in our Parish when the statue came many years ago.

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I remember when I was a child, one of those International Fatima statues was on tour and it wept in New Orleans before it came to our diocese. It did not weep in our diocese and I remember news headlines, “Statue wept in New Orleans but not here”. At the time, I wasn’t sure if that was good or bad, because it would have been exciting to see the statue weep but I wondered if her not weeping in our diocese meant she was upset at New Orleans but not at us.

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The Child of Prague does not resonate with me, though I still recognize it as sacred of course.

I don’t recall that I’ve ever seen any statues or artwork look annoyed, but I have seen some where it looked liked Jesus or the saints were strung out on drugs. Needless to say, I doubt that’s what the artists had in mind. They were probably going for “sorrowful” or something, but that’s not how my brain interpreted it at all!

Maybe that was intentional?

What do you mean?

That’s a unique description for sure.

Maybe the artist meant the statue to look annoyed.

You are a treasure!
I love that you respond to the unsettling expressions created by the artist to turn the particular unsatisfactory facial quirk into prayer for disagreeable people.
On behalf of all the disagreeable people in the world, thank you. Mostly they need prayer, for whatever deep hurt or disappointment mars their lives and interactions

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There is an oil painting of Jesus where he looks like he is “shy high on drugs”. I dislike it very much but a lot of people love that painting and I have a hard time biting my tongue instead of expressing my point of view. I have a very hard time with “typical Catholic plastic looking kitsch” images either painted or sculptured.

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Found this to be a very interesting topic … I don’t recall ever seeing Mary look annoyed, but I am very particular with the facial expression of a Mary statue … I have two different ones in my bedroom … one is smaller and has a nice expression and the larger Fatima one has not as nice, but still a nice expression. I search a long time before I buy a statue … always looking at the facial expression.

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The way our society and culture has become, I’m not at all surprised if Mary IS annoyed with us. Perhaps this depiction of her is a realistic reflection of how she might actually feel about many of her children, today. Maybe that statue was crafted with a disapproving look to send the message that we’d better shape up before it’s too late.

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Post a picture.
We are all curious.

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Me too. Some art just isn’t that great.

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