Sunday, October 10, 2010
Arts: Love & Forgiveness show
Forgiveness, through the eyes of artists
Carnegie show to depict love, compassion
And the son said to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and before thee, I am not now worthy to be called thy son. And the father said to his servants: Bring forth quickly the first robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: And bring hither the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and make merry: Because this my son was dead and is come to life again: he was lost and is found. —Luke 15: 21-24
Forgiveness, says David Reilly, director of the Catholic Diocese of Kalamazoo’s Office of Christian Worship, “is a common theme among major religious traditions. Like the Golden Rule, it’s there among their basic principles.
“Even in secular society, it has a great deal of weight.”
So it seemed a natural subject for the diocese’s invitational show, “The Visual Art of Love & Forgiveness,” to run Aug. 22-Oct. 17 at the Carnegie Center for the Arts in Three Rivers.
Reilly recalls the diocese’s art-and-worship committee, when it first contemplated putting together a show, wondered, “How can we do something that appeals to people and engages them with the art work?” The committee also took into account “the awareness in the community of what the Fetzer Institute has been trying to do with” with its four-year-old Campaign for Love and Forgiveness.
So it adopted that theme as a way to “employ the visual arts to awaken (the public’s) religious imagination,” Reilly says.
Take the piece by Anne Labat-Gepert of Kalamazoo, one of the dozen artists whose work will be represented in the show. Titled “Forgiveness Brings New Life,” it is made of silk dupioni, “a shimmering silk that is created by weaving silk threads of two different colors into a weave that seems to change colors as the silk is moved around in different lights,” she wrote in her artist’s statement.
“The purple silk represents reconciliation, and the white silk represents new life. Darkness to light represents the movement from being separated from God to our union with God — thus, new life. The patchwork represents the many aspects of our lives joined together to form a whole.”
Anne Anson chose an as-yet-untitled stained-glass work to exhibit. She’d had a 22x15-inch piece of dark blue glass in her studio, uncertain how to use it, she recalls.
“Then one day I accidentally laid this mosaic flame in front of it,” she says. “It has orange and yellow and some red. It’s all pretty.
“The flame is in front of the darkness, lighting up the darkness. You can’t have peace unless you have a way of seeing what you’re doing.”
Or look at William Tye’s approximately 30x15x7-inch patinaed bronze sculpture, “Mother and Child.” It depicts a seated mother holding her baby and reflects unconditional forgiveness, the Kalamazoo sculptor says. “Children always need forgiveness,” he suggests.
Karla Tye’s 24x28-inch bronze work, “Giving Comfort,” also plays on the mother-child notion of unconditional love, but uses birds — one large bird, with its wings embracing a smaller bird, which in turn has its face pressed against its mother’s breast.
Forgiveness is “something we need to bring into our general lives, to try to forgive the people who’ve unintentionally hurt us,” adds Garrylee McCormick, whose 16x20-inch painting, “The Gethsemane Mother of Tenderness,” harkens to Russian orthodox iconography of the late 900s AD and the formulas of Byzantine art.
McCormick confesses a long-held “great devotion” to the Virgin Mary. He decided he wanted to explore icons when, as a Cistercian brother, he meet another member of that order of Catholic monks who’d taught himself how to paint them. McCormick since has studied the technique at the Alexander Nevsky Monastery in St. Petersburg, Russia — the “last traditional icon studio,” he notes.
Traditional iconography uses only natural pigments, no manmade colors, McCormick explains. His work for the Carnegie Center show, using mostly red, gold and blue, follows tradition where practical — it employs 22-carat gold leaf in the halos, for example.
His piece, begun during a retreat last year, takes the word “tenderness” in its title because the faces of the mother and child touch — a symbolic pose in Russian iconography.
Nancy Stroupe also reaches back into history for her artistic modus operandi. “Transformation,” one of five pieces she submitted for consideration in the exhibit, shows the Black Madonna and Child, a recurrent image in medieval Europe, with birds rising from a row of marbleized cracked “cosmic” eggs. The birds symbolize a renewed spirit, the artist explains.
“There’s a healing potential in change and transformation,” Stroupe contends in discussing her art. “We’re often afraid of change. But that’s when we have the opportunity for new birth.”
All five pieces she submitted were done as collage and linocut — for linocut, similar to woodcutting, a design is cut into linoleum, then inked, and an image is printed from it.
Another of those submissions, “Heaven’s Gate,” features Buddha, “the embodiment of divine compassion,” she says.
“I’m interested in the interrelations of different paths and different traditions,” she notes. “I come out of the Christian tradition, but I love the path of Buddhism. Hinduism speaks to me.
“There’s validity in all the ways we try to find love in our lives, and forgiveness for the mistakes we make.”
The diocese’s Reilly concurs: “We didn’t try to pigeonhole (the show’s selections) into Catholicism or even into Christianity. (The art) speaks to people’s hearts as we live today ….
“Life is incomplete without the ability to grapple with forgiveness.”
12 apostles of art
Twelve artists will have their work represented — some 20 pieces in all — in “The Visual Art of Love & Forgiveness” at the Carnegie Center for the Arts, 107 N. Main St., Three Rivers, Aug. 22-Oct. 17.
The exhibition will be in the Monroe Museum, “a wonderful venue” with a “well-lit, two-story atrium” that once had been a bank lobby, says David Reilly, director of the Catholic Diocese of Kalamazoo’s Office of Christian Worship, the show’s sponsor.
Opening reception will be 2-4 p.m., Sunday, Aug. 22. Regular show hours will be 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Thursdays-Fridays; 10 a.m.-3 p.m., Saturdays. Admission is free.
Check www.trcarnegie.com for directions.
Anne Anson — Richland, stained glass
Kim Dixon — Galesburg, fabric
Anne Labat-Gepert — Kalamazoo, fabric
Francis Granzotto — Three Rivers, ceramics
Garrylee McCormick — Kalamazoo, painting
Michael Northrop — Three Rivers, painting
Nancy Stroupe — Kalamazoo, linocut and collage
Susan Teague — Paw Paw, painting and drawing
Bill Tye — Kalamazoo, sculpture
Karla Tye — Kalamazoo, sculpture
Karen Vosburg — Climax, fabric
Jerry Westgerdes — Zanesville, Ohio, sculpture
Saints on show
“Saints were sinners who lived in the world and who made a change in how they lived their lives,” says David Reilly, director of the Catholic Diocese of Kalamazoo’s Office of Christian Worship. “Love and forgiveness would have been basic virtues.”
So it seemed natural, he says, to include along with local artists’ work in “The Visual Art of Love & Forgiveness” a collection of Santos — colorful carvings of saints and other religious figures by New Mexican and Latin American artists, known as santeros and santeras — from the 18th to the 21st centuries.
The Santos tradition was introduced by Spanish priests in the 16th century as a means of spreading Christianity to the Native peoples, the diocese says.
The exhibit of more than a dozen statues, from the private collections of Francis and Toni Gross and Garrylee McCormick and John Hall, will be in the Carnegie Center’s Wong Gallery.