Worshipping at the church of Justin Bieber

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TEENAGERS are treating celebrities such as Justin Bieber as religious icons, according to the artwork of a Sunderland student.

Sarah Martin believes the Canadian singer is treated by his fans in a similar vein to more historic religious figures such as Jesus Christ and Buddha, which is conveyed in her piece of artwork on show at the university this week.

Sarah Martin

Sarah Martin

In the piece, the 21-year-old asks whether these pop stars are worthy of the celebrity title and deserve to be treated in the manner they are.

Sarah is showcasing her art as part of the Fine Art 2013 Degree Show at Sunderland University’s Priestman Building, which has recently undergone a £6.5million transformation, including a new art gallery.

The student looked at the notion of faith and the relevance which religious idols have in the modern day.

She hopes the painting will promote a discussion about the impact the media has on people’s perceptions of a celebrity.

Sarah said: “Coming from a Roman Catholic family, religion has always been a big interest of mine. My work considers the notion of faith and whether it is still relevant in the modern day.

“I started to look at idols in the modern day and how in contemporary culture we put our ‘faith’ into other idols, such as a teenagers’ obsession with Justin Bieber.

“These types of idols in the modern day seem to have been created by media obsession.

“In the paintings I wanted to ask: ‘Do these contemporary idols compare to that of religious idols in the past and are they worthy of this title?’.

“The painting portrays Justin Bieber with a halo of gold, similar to that of idols in historic religious paintings. I wanted the public to look at the painting of a young boy who has been put on a pedestal by the media and ask if he deserves to be portrayed as an idol worthy of admiration like that gained by religious idols in the past.”

Now Sarah has finished her degree she is hoping to begin a graduate scheme in set design.

Bieber Fever forms part of the Fine Art and the Glass and Ceramics Degree Show, which is free to view until tomorrow.