A look at Beyonce’s bigger message

I don’t know the entire picture of what people are saying about Beyoncé’s performance at the 2017 Grammy Award ceremony.

I have a nine month old that takes up almost any and all of my free time.

Yet, I watched Beyoncé’s performance through blurry eyes last night and was riveted. There was so much beauty in her performance, and watching a pregnant mama move and honor herself in so many glorious ways was poignant for me during this time in my life.

I want to talk about all of Beyoncé’s performance and engage in the subtle and big messages, but right now I have time to dive into one section.

I want to talk about when Beyoncé and her dancers are hanging out by that long table.

I will go ahead and make the claim that this scene refers to the last supper iconography found throughout art history.

Specifically, Beyoncé’s table scene on February 12, 2017 links to Da Vinci’s The Last Supper painting, created in 1495-1498 (over 500 years ago!).

Leonardo da Vinci, The Last Supper, 1495-1498. Image via public domain on wikipedia (click image for source).
Leonardo da Vinci, The Last Supper, 1495-1498. Image via public domain on wikipedia (click image for source).

This is one of the most popular last supper painting today, though there are thousands of art pieces depicting the last supper in history.

Da Vinci’s wall painting The Last Supper was done in a different style than other paintings of the same scene. He uses one point perspective, something that was not done in a Last Supper painting before him.

Beyoncé's performance at the 2017 Grammy Award Ceremony. Via beyonce.com, click image for source.
Beyoncé’s performance at the 2017 Grammy Award Ceremony. Via beyonce.com, click image for source.

Maybe Beyoncé, like da Vinci, was trying to break the established mold for a Grammy performance.

Perhaps her message is to change our perspective on what role entertainers have in our life in such poignant times.

Also, let’s talk about the Last Supper story. The last supper happened on the first day of Passover. Passover is the commemoration of the people of Israel being freed from slavery to Egypt.

Perhaps Beyoncé’s performance is discussing the long history of slavery of Africans in America.

Perhaps she is celebrating personal freedom in the gathering at the table. 

And, in the story of the last supper, Jesus told his disciples that one of them would betray him. The disciples denied that they would betray Jesus. Yet, one of them did.

Perhaps Beyonce’s performance is talking about how we betray the likes of her in our culture: the black mother.

Or even broader, maybe the betrayal in this scene is society’s betrayal to new mothers. You know, how in America we do not not universally support Moms with paid leave of absence during the first year of their child’s life.

Lastly, Beyoncé’s performance may not have anything to do with the last supper.

Perhaps it’s about when you step into your power (sitting at the head of your table) you sometimes move and shake things up with those around you (her chair falling, the dancers fluid movement on the table).

Whatever your interpretation, however you view this performance, one thing certain: this is a conversation about way more than Beyoncé as an entertainer and person.

I really love that this is exchange of thoughts is happening.

We are truly talking about imagery, art, and the power of visuals to make us think twice about the bigger picture.

And, that is a conversation that needs to happen at every table to make change happen for the greater good.

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