The Poison of the Lying Tongues

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    Photo: Stephen Pitkin/Pitkin Studio
Found wood, cowrie shells, plastic beads, nails, and paint
19 x 14.5 x 18 inches
Collection of
Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco museum purchase American Art Trust Fund and gift of the Souls Grown Deep Foundation

Bessie Harvey’s The Poison of the Lying Tongues, a grotesque distorted head created from found wood, gives form to the Biblical passage “But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison” (James 3:8). The imagery also recalls another Biblical verse, “Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit; the venom of vipers is upon their lips” (Romans 3:13). Harvey described her message thusly: “Before you use it [your tongue] to say things that will hurt yourself or someone else, remember that love covers a multitude of faults, and it’s a fault to go around hurting others.” —Timothy Anglin Burgard