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​Suelem, a portrait by Vik Muniz

The woman in the picture here is Suelem – a scavenger in Rio de Janeiro on one of the biggest rubbish dumps in the world – portrayed with her two sons by the artist Vik Muniz, a naturalized Brazilian in New York. Muniz offered to portray the scavengers of the Rio dump on the model of famous works, using the refuse they collect daily. The proceeds from the sale of the works are given to the scavengers. As the Bose monastery website observes, Suelem is portrayed as in the classical paintings of the Madonna and Child with St John, but the materials used to create the work come from the dump and are skilfully arranged to produce the image: a poor woman and poor materials are the starting point for this extraordinary work. “This is the scandal of God’s Incarnation! This child appears weak, a son of migrants, born incognito, without a dignified dwelling place, a house! It is precisely in this weakness that the Son of God is hidden”. 

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Dec. 12, 2019

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