Photo by Allan Finkelman/©George Segal/VAGA, NY, NY

A wall of flame prevents a downcast Adam and Eve from returning to Eden in George Segal’s rendition of The Expulsion (1986–87). Clutching fig leaves, the hapless couple must trudge toward the viewer, seemingly into our world—an illusion enhanced by Segal’s use of plaster casts of real people in dramatic, open settings.

According to the Book of Genesis, “The Lord God banished [Adam] from the garden of Eden, to till the soil from which he was taken. He drove the man out, and stationed east of the garden of Eden the cherubim and the fiery ever-turning sword, to guard the way to the tree of life” (Genesis 3:24). Segal (see image of George Segal) represents the fiery sword as a roaring conflagration. In so doing Segal transforms Eden into a sort of Hell, with Adam and Eve as bold refugees. As Jack Miles notes in the accompanying article, by re-casting several scenes from Genesis, Segal offers a fresh look at some of the most familiar biblical stories and rekindles for us some of their power.