In creating one of the most ambitious and moving works of community art that you are ever likely to see, the women of Hamburg, a fishing village in the East Cape Province of South Africa, embroidered a massive and striking altarpiece in three layers of panels that successively fold out to reveal the story of their response to the plague of AIDS. The first panel, “Crucifixion,” is a grim portrayal of a dying community; the second, “Resurrection,” depicts the recovery of hope and the will to prevail over the disease and the last, “Reality,” is a series of three large-format sepia-toned photographic portraits of some of the women who participated in the project holding their children. Each of the women bears herself with pride and good will, although some of their children are afflicted with AIDS. The children are just kids, expressing their moods of the moment, none of which even hint at despair. (Michael Weinstein)
The Keiskamma Altarpiece shows at St. James Cathedral, 65 East Huron, (312)787-7360, through May 11.