Dear Denise,

I see it as a very fortunate idea, and I feel it can be very successful.

I am aware the idea of religion is important, especially now, when religious wars are back. Well, actually, warfare as an essential part of human beings, have always religious wars.

Religion is man´s irrational side, although very impportant, because it is what gives human beings their true identity, and something one cannot easily renounce for. It also acts as the flag that unites all at war or in defense. Although an agnostic myself, when I see Christ´s feet trespassed by those nails I believe in Him, in a natural way. When looking at a Christ, Norman feels his Jewish blood revolving, and would like to believe – but he cannot.

All this is brought forth on account of the work title: Earth Altar – which is befitting.

Although I must say I am not very fond of anything that reminds me of religion.

Religion sets us apart. Genetics brings us together: Embracing Unity, Blue unity, Blue stone symbol and Symbol of Unity.

The blue stone does bind the continents together, though, as they had been for millions of years. It is also true that they did not keep as one, that they split violently, which is also typically human, and so it must be to keep on. If those two continents had been kept together the ocean would not be there, and then maybe life would not have emerged. I don´t know. It stands both as a symbol for union and diversity. It seems to me you see it the same way.

I would eliminate the religious reference. I am not sure whether the Portuguese language has the word Ara, which is like an altar, only older and sort of more secular.

“Ara Pacis”, the altar erected by Octavio, in Rome. The word “altar” is immediately associated to sacrifice. The altars were meant to have victims killed, or offers burned on.

Well, it is up to you to decide, and not to give my ideas too much thought.

Could we not just call it Genetic Blue Stone*? Religion was created for human beings to survive on this hard-to-live-in Earth. But this is misleading.

My warmest regards,


*Genetic Blue Stone was the first appearance of the blue stone as an art symbol of unification within diversity of nations. (The Kennedy Art Center, Washington D.C., 2002).


Manuela Mena, Senior Curator of 18th Century Painting and Goya at Museo Nacional del Prado. Mena writes about Spanish and Italian Art of the 17th and 18th centuries, and since 1996 is dedicated especially to Goya, publications and exhibitions about him. She is currently working as part of the team that will develop the catalogue raisonné of Goya drawings.