Michael Soelberg’s A Blessed Curse is a painting currently on display in the exhibition The Interpretation Thereof: Contemporary LDS Art and Scripture. The title references the paradox of Adam and Eve’s mortal sojourn, wherein their decision to enter a fallen world was a catalyst for the greatest of sorrows and trials, as well as the realization of joyous eternal blessings. Man and Woman—figures representing all of us—stand with gazes fixed unflinchingly forward, though in different directions. They stand as two parts of a whole, together seeing greater perspective. The green tones of the square, perhaps symbolic of their one-Edenic state, is echoes in their flesh—a reminder of humankind’s inherent divinity as literal children of God. The vibrant red highlights and droplets of blood signify their now-fallen state. The four clocks measure the passage of earthly time, contrasting with the ladder reaching toward eternal realms above.
As we consider artworks like this, we must examine it through the lens of symbolism. Symbolism is often used in literature and art to expand our understanding and broaden our perspective. How might symbolism in this piece help you ponder or gain insight on the following points:
- How would you interpret the fact that the husband and wife are facing different directions?
- What might the ascending ladder represent?
- How might this depiction of Adam and Eve represent all of us and our respective roles in mortality?