Communion

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Ways of Seeing
Just as there are many ways of being in a place, there are also many ways of seeing. To be and to see as Christ, we lessen our focus on the immediacy of our personal circumstance. To be and to see as Christ, we empty our minds into our hearts and we wait. In time, in God’s time, we experience a displacement at the center. The vastness of the interior indwelling God that we encounter begins its dynamic interaction with our waking consciousness. And our own purpose, our contribution to the life and work of the world, becomes clear.
-Mel Ahlborn

On View: Communion, Oil on linen, 1998, by Camilla Brunschwyler Armstrong

Communion

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Rarely Seen Unless Sought
Observe a fine artist as she composes a work of art and you will witness an intimate rhythm rarely seen unless sought. The fine artist has trained himself over time to allow for the cycle of inspiration and pause; she is comfortable with its tendency to progress and return. This preliminary work is rich with discovery as the artist waits on a resonance between the original pulse of inspiration and the emerging work of art. During this essential phase of creation, the strength of the composition may diminish and when this happens, when the fine artist loses sight of the reason why he began the work in the first place, he returns to the cycles of progress and return, and waits.
-Mel Ahlborn

On View: Communion, Oil on linen, by Brie Dodson

Holy Silence

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Title: The Holy Silence (Byzantine-style icon)
Medium: Egg tempera and gold leaf on gessoed board
Size: 11" x 14" x one inch thick
Date Created: 2006

Statement: This type of icon, also known as "The Silence of God," is a symbolic depiction of Christ as an eternally youthful angel - or even, as in this example, a female angel. The image was developed in 18th and 19th century Russia, and is associated with the Prayer of the Heart (the Jesus Prayer).

The upturned hands are folded in a prayerful gesture of receptive silence, and the gaze turned to the side in contemplation. An 8-pointed star in the halo indicates divinity.

- Betsy Porter

The Gifts

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Eyes of Faith
If you seek faith, watch the table.

-Mel Ahlborn

On View: The Gifts, Photograph, by Nancy Carow

The Soul's Journey - Station III

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The Way of the Cross is the way of each of us, for it is indeed the journey of the soul. While the life of Jesus is extraordinary, and he was hardly “any man”, the remarkable thing is that he lived life as one of us. He shows the way for each of us because in him and his story, we see ourselves, and the challenges and suffering that are the stuff of life. And in that inevitable stuff, we discover the possibilities of redemption and the transforming power of love.

One of the most challenging aspects of walking the Way of the Cross is that we know from the outset that it is not going to be easy. However, we are also fortunate to know the end of the story, that love triumphs and the world is changed forever. As we practice and enter this Way, we grow in the certainty that we are never forsaken and never alone, regardless of how dark the night.

There is no right or wrong way to practice this devotion. The only advice or guidance I would offer is to follow your heart. I find that different Stations speak to me at different points in my life and even the same Station may hold a new and unexpected meaning. With time, they continue to add new understanding to my journey – it may be the loneliness of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane that speaks to me, or at other times the pain of betrayal by his closest friends. To my shame, I may also discover myself among his friends who betray or deny him. Then, there is the overwhelming and incomprehensible injustice of it all.

Yet, as I pass through these events, I wonder at the love that shows through all of this – the love that dominates this terrible story and transforms it into triumph. Why did God choose to manifest in this way? How did this man continue to love and forgive? How am I to love when I am hurt and angry? In addition, and possibly most difficult, how can I accept his love when I feel so unworthy? It is heady stuff and the core of my faith. For as we all know, Jesus’ one commandment to us was to love – to love God, and love our neighbors as ourselves. That was also the life he lived and his perfect love changed the world. May his love, which resides in you, change your life and those you touch.

-Kathrin Burleson

On View: Station III Jesus Denied by Peter, by Kathrin Burleson

Whisperings

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There were secrets. I will never tell,
you said. Let us bury them here, where
the nameless leaves, the anonymous flora
claim your attention, Thou-ing your I.
We were once . . . young, full of desire,
full of the world’s beauty and promise,
refusing to admit time’s boundaries,
bursting to be ourselves, not knowing
who we were or how we might be other.
Impossible to find a future when pulled by
the past, a retrospect of all we longed for.
more>


from Discourse: Word and Image by David Cottingham and Ruth Susen Riley. Eight of these works are presented by Episcopal Church & Visual Arts.

On View: Whisperings, by Ruth Susen Riley

Madonna and Child

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Symbols

[Episcopal Life] Anyone who has searched for religious clip art or graphics to illustrate a weekly bulletin, poster or newsletter knows immediately how time-consuming such a task can be.

Now four Episcopal artists, commissioned by the Office of Communication's web department, have each created a set of 12 Christian symbols that have been placed on the church's website for use at no charge for non-commercial purposes.

"From time to time, someone would call asking for free clip art or graphics, or asking if we could recommend a designer for a church logo or T-shirt," said Bowie Snodgrass, web content editor. "From these requests came our idea to commission some good, original Episcopal clip art -- making what might sound like an oxymoron into a created reality."

She, and her colleague, Wade Hampton, the church's art director, partnered with an organization called Episcopal Church & Visual Arts (ECVA) and issued a "call for entries" last summer. They received sample symbols from 15 artists. Read the full story here >


On View: Madonna and Child Original Clip Art by Marilyn Dale. From 'Symbols', in the Image Shop at the Episcopal Church website

Crossed Callas

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On View: Crossed Callas, Silver Gelatin Print, 15" x 12", by
Colleen Meacham

Walsingham Windows

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By Tobias Stanislas Haller, BSG
Tobias Haller is vicar of Saint James Church Fordham in
The Bronx, and a member of the Brotherhood of Saint Gregory.

As seen in 'Venite Adoramus ', an exhibition of Episcopal Church & Visual Arts.

Beggarwoman

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She is a form, too beautiful to be real, poised and almost posed: her own angles against the creases of the hard surfaces of the world she's too much like. Seeing her is like seeing architecture. Notice the patterns on the [running!] shoes and on the begging bowl and how those abstractions are replayed in the scene. We know she is a begger because of her bowl and because the photographer tells us so. We know that she is a woman because of her dress, the clothing that renders her (and so many women) anonymous. She loses her identity in so many ways: to composition, to concealing clothes, to repugnance. If we are climbing the steps (to a cathedral) we will undoubtedly pass by, not seeing her for the bowl thrust forward; nor will we see the compositional planes she occupies so perfectly. It is the same when we see a photograph of disaster, the exquisite forms of the dead or the color of blood against the dirt of battle, the twisted face of death. In her case, the poverty we assume she bears is hidden in the folds of a garment and the planes of a photograph that wrench beauty out of despair. Does the woman feel this beauty? Does she know how she is displayed so perfectly against the world? Who knows. She is no one we will ever know except here. Through her we are shown the action of grace: she saves us in spite of ourselves.

By Ken Arnold, Copyright ©2007. Used with permission.

On View: Beggarwoman, Photograph, by
Diane Walker

The Mustard Seed

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On View: The Mustard Seed, a painting by Lorna Effler

As Seen in Gracious Spirit, an exhibition of Episcopal Church & Visual Arts.

Our Lady of Good Counsel Interior

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On View: Our Lady of Good Counsel Interior
(Oil on wood, 28" x 30", 2007)
by Erin McGee Ferrell
Writes the artist, "The watercolor study for this oil was done in Plein Air within a church in my community. Christ is present in these spaces, both in the noise of the services and the silence of mid-week afternoons. Within the architecture and decor exist many images of Christ. Painting in the silent presence of these images is a prayerful act. "

From Image and Likeness, an exhibition of Episcopal Church & Visual Arts.

On Tour through December 2008 with "Redeeming Beauty", a national traveling exhibition of The Foundation for Sacred Arts, Bethseda, MD.

Pentecost - Taking Flight

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Novena to the Holy Spirit
The Novena in Honor of the Holy Spirit is the oldest of all novenas since it was first made at the direction of Christ prior to his ascension when he sent the apostles to Jerusalem to await the coming of the Holy Spirit. Addressed to the Third Person of the Trinity, it is a powerful plea for the coming of the Holy Spirit. The Novena begins on the day after Ascension, Friday of the 6th Week of Easter, even if the Solemnity of the Ascension is transferred to the 7th Sunday. A group in my church will be praying this beginning on Friday and ending on the evening of the Pentecost Vigil. Won't you join us? -From Celebrating Sacred Time by Jan Neal, in the ECVA Sketchbook


On View: Taking Flight, a Pentecost installation of St Paul's Episcopal CHurch in Greenville, North Carolina. The creator Charles Chamberlain writes, "We have operated on the schema that we will always involve our whole parish in any project. We believe that if we do otherwise, then what we do will become nothing more than a nice decoration. By involving everyone, it definitely springs from the community for whom it provides liturgical meaning." From Resources at Episcopal Church & Visual Arts.

Burning Bush

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On View: Burning Bush
(Digital , 2006)
by Jan Neal as seen in Sharing Episcopal Art at the Episcopal Church website, episcopalchurch.org

Transfiguration : Dwellings

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On View: Transfiguration : Dwellings by Susan Tilt
Mixed media with acrylic and oil on a birch panel, 24" x 24", 2007. Susan is a member of St. Christopher’s Episcopal Church - Springfield, Virginia. As seen in Image and Likeness, an exhibition of Episcopal Church and Visual Arts.

Cathedral of the Interior

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In 1982 I lost one of my sisters. Processing that grief became an insurmountable burden. By 1994 my faith seemed stretched beyond capacity. I found myself drawn to cathedrals, and especially their ceilings. There, with my camera, I found a peace that I could find nowhere else. The simple action of looking up drew my spirit higher.

Stone and shadows became my refuge. Soaring Gothic was born in 1995 out of this period of struggle and opened new path for me in my artwork.

In 1998 my father died. Again, I was weighed down with the power of death and life. Now there were no cathedrals for me to visit. I had to turn to God and the solitude of my own soul. Remembering the promise of the ceilings, infinite space and a peaceful universe full of God’s promise, I turned once again to my pastels. Each mark became for me the repetition of a mantra, balm for my wounded soul. The lines and colors became the shadowy movement of light on cathedral walls. That same peace I found in a cathedral returned with each mark upon the paper, and Journey of the Soul II emerged.

2002 brought the death of my mother, and a year later the death of my second sister. As I drew upon my source of photographs, Cathedral of the Interior appeared. With it came the realization that there is no division between heaven and earth. My loved ones aren’t gone; they have only stepped behind the veil and will be there with my Lord when it is time for me to enter the greatest cathedral of all. The presence of the Holy has become part and parcel of my working atmosphere. It is to God, through my paints, my camera, and my computer, that I turn for solace. He has never failed to appear and to sooth my soul and enrich my life with the gift of image.

by Barbara Desrosiers

On View: Cathedral of the Interior, Digital Collage, 2003, 10" x 8". As seen in Art and Faith - A Spiritual Journey at Episcopal Church and Visual Arts.

Paul in Prison

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The Frescoes of St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Wilkesboro, NC
"A unique opportunity came to St. Paul’s in 2002 when the parish and the Cultural Arts Council for Wilkes County joined together to have Ben Long paint two frescos in the Commons area at the church. Ben Long, a native of North Carolina, is internationally known for his work in the ancient art of fresco painting. Long works in the traditional technique used by the great Renaissance painters. The fresco is a long tedious process of applying three layers to the wall. The first layer is a base coat of plaster. Next is a finer coat of plaster to which a red outline transferred from a drawing is applied. The final layer of plaster is applied in small sections so that water-based pigments can be applied before the plaster dries. By using this process the painting becomes part of the wall." Text by Danny Hardison.

On View: Paul in Prison , one of a pair of frescoes by Ben Long. Read the story, and watch the video, here.

Baptismal Font at Canterbury Cathedral

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In the United States this week we celebrate Father's Day, an occasion to honor those who have come before us, founded our own beginnings, given us a leg up, and even confounded our own notions of what is reasonable and just.

The art and architecture of Canterbury Cathedral finds its place on this occasion. Canterbury came before before the Episcopal Church, founded our own beginnings, gave us a leg up, and even confounds our notions of what is reasonable and just. The art and architecture of Canterbury are best viewed on site, with an informed guide and comfortable lodgings, something we call a 'Pilgrimage.'

On view : Presentation Design Drawing of the Baptismal Font for Canterbury Cathedral

Artist: John Christmas (1599-1654)
circa 1638-1639
Pen & ink & watercolour on vellum
The Canterbury baptismal font was commissioned by John Warner, Dean of Lichfield, on the eve of his promotion to the Bishopric of Rochester. This drawing, which has been signed by John Warner, was probably designed for presentation to the Dean and Chapter of Canterbury to impress them with his proposed munificence. The size of the drawing and its meticulous execution confirm that it was a commission of great importance.
-from The Art Fund

In the Father's Embrace

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Embraced Once Again
"My father and I always had a strong and loving relationship. But when I was in my late twenties, my mother died and my father remarried. Our life changed dramatically." To read more of artist Ruth Councell's writing about The Father's Embrace, visit Art and Faith - A Spiritual Journey, at Episcopal Church and Visual Arts.

The Creation

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From a series of stained glass windows at Nativity Episcopal Church in Bloomfield Township, Michigan. Stained glass by Margaret Cavanaugh.

On View: Day 4, separation of the seas and the creation of animals, is designed with various shades of blue and green glass. A shell imbedded in the glass represents emerging animal life.

Read more in ECVA Congregational Arts, here.

Stillness You Can See

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Stillness You Can See
Photographs show us what isn't there as well as what is. The expanse of sky is something, but it is also nothing, an emptiness spilling out of the frame endlessly. It is a fiction, even its blue, that we imagine is there for us, a fragile canopy, who knows how it stays there. What defines this sky is another emptiness, the flats, the marshgrass where nothing is moving, not even the wind.

Stillness you can see, there and not there.

I have spent time in spaces like this one on immobile days of summer that have turned off the sound. A day as silent as a photograph. But someone has been here--and the caption tells us that someone is often here, doing church business, but without the caption the photograph is only a sign of unnamed presence and absence. I prefer not knowing. What has been left behind is a book, a mug for coffee or tea. I assume the book is a Bible, even without the caption. A reader has sat here facing the empty landscape, torn between what is in front of her physically and before her metaphysically, the already-not-yet of Biblical time in which we can read from the first moment to the last without leaving our chair.

The image is all presence, spirit, made more immediate by the certainty that someone was here. Jesus appears on the lake shore after resurrection, here and not here, sitting quietly and then gone. But not gone. And so it is with all of us. Why has she left, the one who was here? Where has she gone? Will she come back? Absence can be a coffee break; it can be death. In this moment, confronting the void, we cannot know. -Ken Arnold

On View: "Church Office, Beaver Alaska", a photograph by The Rev. Scott Fisher, Fairbanks Alaska

Ken Arnold is a writer living in Portland, Oregon. You can read more of his work here.

Grant that We May

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Lesli Pepper

Grant That We May

Text by St. Francis of Assisi

acrylics and prismacolor pencils

3' x 3'

This piece was created for a prayer vigil for the Middle East at All Saints by the Sea Episcopal Church.

Rotation by Isaac Everett

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Urban Spirituality
The Liturgy of St James, 1st century.
The writings of Thomas Aquinas, 13th century.
French carols, 15th century.
Plainsong, 15th century.
French carols, 17th century.
Piano.
Keyboards.
Didjeridu.
Electric Guitar.
Blending electronica, rock, jazz, traditional middle eastern, and chamber music with ancient liturgical texts and melodies.
Rotation, a CD by Isaac Everett.

Matins

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The Hours

The textual source in the series is the Divine Office, the book of monastic prayers set for the hours of the day: matins (the morning prayer), terce (the third hour), sext (the sixth hour noon) and vespers (the evening prayer). Each abstraction deals with the meditation on salvific light at different times of day and night. Based on the emergence of light across a horizon, the light emerges from the interior and pushes against the outer influences in its attempt to fill the depicted space. The paintings were done from two angles, horizontal, with the light emerging above the horizon line, and vertical, with the light moving out from the center towards the right. These pieces are part of an unfinished series. - Tony Morinelli

On View: from his series 'The Hours', Matins (the morning prayer) by Tony Devaney Morinelli. Read more at ecva.org

Fourth Day of Creation

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Hope always draws the soul from the beauty which is seen to what is beyond, always kindles the desire for the hidden through what is constantly perceived. Therefore, the ardent lover of beauty, although receiving what is always visible as an image of what he desires, yet longs to be filled with the very stamp of the archetype. — Saint Gregory of Nyssa

On View: The Fourth Day of Creation, by Betsy Porter, as seen in the Visual Preludes 2003. From 'Byzantine-Style Icons' by Betsy Porter at ecva.org.

Four Goblets

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Oculus Cordis

Lately my participation in the eucharist is requiring more attention, more care. It's not like I'd been holding out; at least, I don't think so. But there is a distinct change in my private worship that I can measure, in intensity if not in inches. This happens to me every so often, and when it does I find that in order to embrace the prayers of the priest and the congregation, I need to stretch my imagination almost to breaking point. It's the ordinary and the extraordinary again that confound me; the seen and the unseen. I know both to be true, and even so every few months it seems that my mind gets caught in a loop of trying to use its cleverness to dissect the details. It's a fools game, I know. Only love is needed. Oculos cordis, Ambrose and other church fathers called it, eyes of the heart.

On View: Pouring Vessel with Goblets from Hjalmarson Pottery. Halldor and Gail Hjalmarson have maintained a pottery studio in the Roosevelt Historic District of central Phoenix since 1973 and produce a body of creative work which reflects the imagery and feeling of their Sonoran Desert.

Mourning to Morning

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Choosing Transcendence
Artists are as able as any to address the deep moral and theological questions that face us all. And, they're equally able to contribute to reconciliation and renewal, or not, as any. Art serves to keen its audience's relationship with the world situation. Art takes on an entirely new dimension, a transcendence, when an artist’s insight into the pain and suffering of the world is paired at its core with the redemptive promise of Christ.

On View: from Mourning to Morning by Dorothy Ralph Gager. From her series of six sculptures on view at ecva.org.

Bearing the Light

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Bearing the Light
These illumined figures are part of my newest series, “Bearing Light”. They incorporate raw linen, which is distressed and then applied to canvas or board and painted in oils.

Bearing the Light of Being
Light enters, filling empty spaces,
Opening heart with untold graces,
The shadowed path illumined now,
In Light we see Light.

On View: Bearing the Light of Being by Camilla Brunschwyler Armstrong, Oil on canvas, 2006, 22" x 18". St. John’s Episcopal Church – Montgomery, AL, camillaarmstrong@aol.com

As seen in: Visual Preludes 2006, a production of Episcopal Church and Visual Arts, now available as a Visio Divina resource in DVD format.

Open Door and Afternoon Tea

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Afternoon Tea by Kathie McCarthy (excerpt)

Weary,
I come into this small bit of earth
and sit,
cup of tea for companion,
and sit.


On View: Open Door By Donna Shasteen, Acrylic, 2005, 18" x 14"
As Seen In: The Illustrated Word, online at ecva.org

Half-Light & Silence

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Half-Light & Silence
Painting from the soul makes use of these elements, these
half-lights and silences. In and through and under the
paint, above and beyond the tools there is a communion. A
coming to the table, where we offer our work, in faith and
hope and most of all love. In half-light we greet the
shadow that guides disappointment along a path to
redemption. Witnessing the silent passing of a rose into
dust, we learn that beauty lies not only in the rose, but
also in the dust. We prepare the gifts we offer, and we
receive them back again, in half-lights and silences.
- by C. Robin Janning

On View: Half-Light & Silence by C. Robin Janning.

C. Robin Janning is an abstract painter in the Diocese of Michigan. She serves as Deputy Director of Communications for ecva.org.

This is My Son

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On View: This is my son, by Sr. Claire Joy. Digital image, 3.5” x 4.25”, 2007.

Sr. Claire Joy
is in her final year of candidacy with the Community of the Holy Spirit, an Episcopal order of women in New York City. She is sixty-one years old, going on nine.

As seen in: Image and Likeness, an exhibition of Episcopal Church & Visual Arts.




The Sacred in Cyber Space - Part 1 of 2

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The Sacred in Cyber Space - Part 1 of 2

"The electronic age is an age of 'secondary orality,' the orality of telephones, radio, and television, which depends on writing and print for its existence." from 'Orality and Literacy' by Walter Jackson Ong, 2002, Routledge. ISBN 0415281288.
A lot of experience tells us that web communities are quite real and effective, beginning with The Well back in the prehistoric days of cyberspace (what we would call now a listserv but with a stronger sense of interactive community over time). Nathan Brockman writes about how the website of the Parish of Trinity Church is a 'sacred parish space." A Jesuit and philosopher Walter Ong, who died a few years ago, wrote a book on the the relationship between oral culture and technology, which is applicable to the web as a technology that in a strange way it returns us to oral community. If you think about it, much of what we do online is like speaking--dash off a word here, show a family photo, have a multiple conversation, tell stories. Kids with text messaging know that their form of communication makes and supports community. Those of us interested in the once and future church need to be online as a community of Christians; cyberspace is where the future is being discussed and formed. If you like, to borrow a prehistoric image, www is the cave where everyone is hanging out (and because this is ECVA--where the cave paintings are). - Ken Arnold

Next Week: The Sacred in Cyber Space - Part 2 of 2, On Walter Ong and Technologizing the Word.

On View: "Christ on the Cross", a painting by Patricia M. Brown, 1998, 9.5" x 5". As seen in Visual Preludes 2006

Patricia Brown is a painter living in San Francisco, and a member of St. Aidan's Episcopal Church.

Ken Arnold is a writer living in Portland, Oregon. You can read more of his work here.

Crocus

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I sense the Holy Spirit when I walk in the woods and feel the wind. It's there when I hear the sound of a brook, the cry of a red-tailed hawk, or feel the heat of the sun. When I photograph in nature, I know I can't possibly record the full extent of what I sense. But as I slow down and focus on the details of the natural world, I feel more closely connected to the Spirit. And when I look later at my photographs, I am reminded of the presence of the Holy Spirit, and encouraged to get outside and search for it once again. The Spirit is not far away.

I made the photograph of crocus last spring in my front yard. This past week, the same patch of crocus pushed up again, and I wondered which one was my model.
- Wilson Cummer, artist

On View: 'Crocus,' photograph by Wilson Cummer, March 2004, as seen in 'Spirit's Fire,' an exhibition of Episcopal Church & Visual Arts.

Wilson Cummer
works professionally as a photographer teaches photography to children and adults, through Cazenovia College, near his home in Fayetteville, NY.

The Sacred in Cyber Space - Part 2 of 2

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The Sacred in Cyber Space - Part 2 of 2

The Technologizing of the Word. In oral cultures, Ong writes, speech is more performance oriented, a way of doing something to someone; in our print and media culture, speech is more informational, partly because it is controlled by larger institutions (including the church). That is changing in the world of computer-mediated communication, which is more horizontal. Although based on a printed book, the Bible, Christian community is in fact a performance (oral) community and always has been. One of our difficulties today in the church is that we have allowed ourselves to be fixed in time and space, less amenable to the messiness of performance and art. What does it mean (to me) and how can I use it trumps (almost) everything else.
By the way, Ong wrote this book before the computer revolution. - Ken Arnold

reference 'Orality and Literacy' by Walter Jackson Ong, 2002, Routledge. ISBN 0415281288.

On View: "Luminous Drawing", a digital montage by Barbara Desrosiers. As seen in the ECVA exhibition Unto Us a Child is Born

Barbara Desrosiers trained in the fine arts at the University of Rhode Island, and has studied informally in art communities all over the world. The evolution of her work from the painted surface to digital montage has been years in the process. Her work has always been impacted by her faith as well as her surroundings. These lead her to search for an understanding of God�s presence in the world, and his presence and power in her work. She lives and works in Melbourne, Florida, and is a member of Church of the Holy Apostles, Satellite Beach, Florida.

Ken Arnold is a writer living in Portland, Oregon. You can read more of his work here.

River Jordan, Light of Christ

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The River Jordan and the Light of Christ flow out from a common source. That source is God. The water boldly flows as the light continues to shine and is not extinguished by the water. So too, does Christ's love flow in each of us calling us boldly into the world. - Wendy Wahn, artist.


On View: Drawing by Wendy Wahn, pastels on paper, as seen in 'A New Light', an exhibition of Episcopal Church and Visual Arts.


Gray Dove Font/Basin

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On View: Gray Dove Font/Basin, by Ruth Burink. Gray marble, 11.5"x20"x22". As seen in 'Spirit's Fire', an exhibition of Episcopal Church & Visual Arts.

Ruth Burink is an American sculptor working in stone and bronze. Her contemporary sculpture is primarily figurative and nature-centered tending toward the abstract, and often spiritual in concept. She works in various types of stone and in bronze, casting her bronze pieces from an original carved in stone. Her award winning sculpture can be seen several galleries and in international shows and collections. She welcomes commissions for stone and bronze sculpture.

The Three Graces

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"...she carries on..."

Perhaps the world has always appeared to be “coming apart at the seams.” Yet somehow, we carry on. How? There are those anonymous multitudes of individuals who quietly, methodically, gracefully pick up the threads of hope and beauty and carry on with living. I am inspired and drawn to the spirit of those who have the energy and fortitude to survive the disaster of flood, famine, war, and man’s inhumanity to man, one day at a time. I am struck especially by images of women who spin, weave and stitch and wrap themselves with garments, clothing and comforting others for the daily walk of life. They carry on. They carry their children, their water buckets, their burdens, their abundance and the beauty of their traditions.

The photographs used in these pieces were harvested from the media. I poured over images, selected and altered them, and inserted them into my work, like windows to a world where I have never walked. I am grateful to the photographers who used their talents, sometimes putting themselves in harm’s way, to bring us images of those we will never physically embrace, though they are just outside our window. - Mary Ann Breisch

On View: from the Series "...she carries on...", The Three Graces, Stitched Assemblage: Photo transfer on layered vellum, cold press, earth cloth and tulle with graphite. The artist writes, "This image was inspired by a wire photo entitled 'A day in Iraq.'
I thought the women were supremely universal in their poses...they looked like Greek goddesses or 3 mountains or the 3 visitors from the story of Jacob."

Mary Ann Breisch is an artist living and working in Cleveland, Ohio. She is a member of Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Cleveland, Ohio where she serves the 'heARTspace' and 'Front Porch Ministry' programs.

Hilda of Whitby

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Hilda of Whitby
by Suzanne Schleck

"By definition, painting an icon is an encounter with the Spirit of God, often as manifested in the lives of his saints. This is necessarily an experience of growth. The icon of Hilda of Whitby is an encounter with a woman of unity and wisdom, who lived in a time of turmoil in the church." – Suzanne Schleck

As seen in: Saints & Family, a collaborative exhibition between the Communications Department of the Episcopal Church and Episcopal Church & Visual Arts.


November 18 – Hilda of Whitby (c. 614 – November 17, 680), Abbess

St Athanasius Window

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"The fourth of a planned series of six stained glass windows was installed on May 23 in the church of the Cathedral Center of St Paul in Los Angeles.

"The newest window depicts St. Athanasius, a fourth-century scholar and bishop who staunchly defended the doctrine of the Holy Trinity.

"The congregation, which continues to raise funds for the $18,000 installation, dedicated the window in festivities on Trinity Sunday, June 3."
- by Janet Kawamoto, The Episcopal News, Summer 2007, p. 28

David Pendelton Oakerhater, September 1

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The David Pendelton Oakerhater Window
Crafted by Willet Stained Glass for St George's Episcopal Church, Dayton, Ohio

(from Liturgy and Music Online) David Pendelton Oakerhater is the only American Indian listed in the Episcopal calendar of the church year. He was born between 1844 and 1851 on a Cheyenne reservation in Western Oklahoma. Oakerhater, whose name means "Making Medicine," was imprisoned in Florida for his alleged role in the Battle of Adobe Walls in 1874. He was befriended by Ohio Senator George Pendleton and his wife, who arranged for his education in Syracuse, New York. Oakerhater was ordained deacon on June 7, 1881, and spent the rest of his life as a missionary to the Cheyenne Nation of Oklahoma. Oakerhater is commemorated in the Episcopal calendar of the church year on Sept. 1.

St. George's Episcopal Church in Dayton Ohio has 48 stained glass windows installed throughout the church. A virtual tour is available online. The St George's stained glass window collection is arranged by section of the church, with different themes illustrated in the chancel, narthex and nave of the church.

Information on Oakerhater is provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from "An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians," Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.

As seen in: Saints & Family, a collaborative exhibition between the Communications Department of the Episcopal Church and Episcopal Church & Visual Arts.

Eden by Sister Claire Joy

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I've always been (and am) intrigued with the story of Eden. I've brooded over it and written about it many times, trying to tease out some other interpretation besides crime and punishment.

Adam, the first human creation, was pretty much coddled by God—fed, protected, cherished, given special benefits. He received a mate because he was lonely, and, he didn't have much to do to earn his keep. He was spoiled. rotten.

It's not rocket science to predict that the only stated rule would be disobeyed. One of the hardest jobs for a parent is to enforce the standards and inflict consequences. Without that structure the child grows up undisciplined, unruly, and unprepared for life outside the home. The consequence in Adam's case was life outside the home. Only there, without all the props and privileges of the garden, would he learn how life really works.

I think we've taken that story and twisted it inside out. We've assumed that obedience and perfection are the points here, when it may be that listening to the advice of one with more knowledge and experience is the point. Read more here>

Sister Claire Joy is in her fourth year of candidacy with the Community of the Holy Spirit. Before her call to the religious life, her interest in art spanned over 30 years.

Our Lady of Sutton Place by Beverly Brookshire

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'Although I am not wealthy, I find myself living in the exclusive neighborhood of “Sutton Place”. Our dominant landscape feature is the 59th Street Bridge which I see every day when I walk to this park filled with children and nannies. Each child is perfect – represented by the Greek symbols IC–XC (Jesus Christ) on the T-shirt. And to me, each nanny is a Madonna. ' - Beverly Brookshire Read more here>

On View: Our Lady of Sutton Place by Beverly Brookshire. Acryllic on canvas board. 18" x 14".

Beverly Brookshire is a member of the New York Chapter of ECVA.

Art is an Oral Culture by Ken Arnold

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On View: "When Morning Gilds the Skies", a photograph by Barbi Tinder, 2005.

We can imagine an oral gospel, stories we hear rather than read. In fact, every Sunday we hear scripture, sermons; the spoken word is at the center of Christian worship. We speak of ourselves as a biblical community, but I suspect most of us hear the Bible more than we read it. So it isn't too hard to imagine that the written/printed word is not there. The Book of Common Prayer is less often used these days. When I "read" the Gospel as a deacon, I try to tell the story without reading, acting it out (when I'm allowed to).

Walter Ong in talking about oral culture and literacy argued that we live in a time of secondary orality, meaning that we have returned in some ways to an oral culture, or reinvented it, electronically. Think of the telephone and radio, cellphones, and the television somewhat less. The computer and the internet have taken us further into an oral form of interactivity. There are communities now on line that are as vibrant as physical communities: think of MySpace and FaceBook. I joined one in Portland last week, Community Circle, which is focused on ecological issues. Some deny that electronic culture is as viable as face culture (to coin a phrase) but when you are communicating actively on line it feels like the enabling of community.

Oral communication demands feedback in order to take place at all. Ong observes, and this is critical, that oral communication in traditional cultures is less about dispensing information than written/print communication; we have come in our society to think of speech itself as a provider of information, primarily because of our regard for the printed word. The Word of the church is spoken, not printed, but we still often think of it as dispensing information. Instead, in a reversion to the oral culture, we might think of it as in invitation to respond.

In the computer environment, there is no mediator of communication, no one to interrupt. There is also complete freedom to respond, to engage in dialog. With smaller church communities dispersed over larger geographical areas, online communication may be the only viable way to stay in touch with the whole. Note that the Presiding Bishop's trip to South America is one we can follow on line through streaming video and virtually instant reporting.

In the same way, art is a form of oral communication, even though it is something we look at rather than hear. Nonetheless, art invites response and is often seen in community, in public (and meant to be seen that way). When Andre Malraux described a Museum without Walls a century ago, he was referring to the democratization of art; now, on line, we can see any art work at all (in reproduction of course) and talk about it with anyone anywhere.

The human commons has expanded through on line media. The church has been slow to take advantage of the possibilities for building community, telling the gospel story, and growing in strength. In Orality and LIteracy , Ong's important book on oral community, he makes the case that technologizing the word is not something we need to fear; it is what we have to use. ~ Ken Arnold

Barbi TInder is a photographer living in Maine. Her life as an artist is profiled in Visual Preludes 2006 Resource Guide.

Ken Arnold is a writer living in Portland, Oregon. You can read more of his work here.

Caravaggio: Man and Mystery

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Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio was a late 16th century painter whose personal life and artistic career were both controversial. Caravaggio's use of light is considered a 'reformation' in the treatment of religious subjects.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art will host art historian and author Charles Scribner III in a lecture titled "Caravaggio: Man and Mystery" on Wednesday, January 9, 2008, 6:00 PM,
Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium. For tickets and additional information, visit The Metropolitan Museum of Art online.

On View: St Jerome, 1605. Oil on canvas. By Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio.

We Pray You To Illumine the World

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...We pray you to illumine the world with the radiance of your glory... Peace I give to you; my own peace I leave with you...
From Noonday Prayer, BCP page 107.

"It gives me great peace to see the wonderful, sometimes minute, detail that comes from my developing trays after I have carefully, or maybe not so carefully, composed the plants on the photographic paper. The little feathery fern fronds and uncurling fiddleheads, I watch emerging in the spring after a long snowy winter. I am, every year, thrilled by the beautiful bank of purple iris growing along my neighbor's fence. Living where I do in Maine, I cannot miss the vast fields of Lupine! It is the utter simplicity of this material that I see when creating these images.

I spend hours collecting the plant material, from roadside ditches, farm fields, the sandy or rocky shores. It is an unending bounty all spread out before me in every season. Even with 10 inches of snow on the ground, there are always the evergreens. These are my inspiration laid on for me by God morning, noon and night; winter, spring, summer, and fall."
- Anne Wetzel

Anne Wetzel is a photographer who lives on Mt. Desert Island in Maine. Her publications include Through the Window of the Ordinary; Experiences of Holy Week, a journey through Holy Week at St. James Cathedral, Chicago; and Lambeth Crosses, a montage of Bishops' crosses taken at the 1998 Lambeth Conference of the Anglican Communion.

On View: Early Spring - Ferns, Silver Gelatin Photogram, 20" x 16" by Anne Wetzel, 2005
From: "Illustrating the Hours", an exhibition of Episcopal Church and Visual Arts, ecva.org

The Courage to Live Out Faith

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In the words of artist Rachel Weaver Rivera, "The images of animals, family members, and celestial forces are visual metaphors for finding courage to live out faith, celebrating the gift of motherhood, and paying close attention to the ephemeral quality of our physical existence. The paintings make tangible a personal point of view, about how the creative power of collective hope and shared vision for change is the only pathway to an equitable and just future for all."

Rivera's paintings "explore the connection between spiritual and everyday life." Rivera believes that "making visual art prepares us in small ways to meet greater obstacles with creativity and grace."

Rachel owns and operates Imagine Art Studio, a unique storefront studio space for children and families in Chicago's suburbs. She is a presenter and consultant on children's creative processes and developing learning environments that promote discovery through self-expression.

On View: The Visitor by Rachel Weaver Rivera
Acrylic on canvas, 2002, 14" x 18"
Emmanuel Episcopal - LaGrange, IL

As Seen In: "Friendship with God", a Visual Preludes 2006 exhibition of Episcopal Church and Visual Arts, ecva.org

Themes for Advent and Christmas

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Art at the Cathedral
A National Exhibit by Episcopal Church Visual Artists (ECVA)

"Themes for Advent and Christmas"

Nov. 11-Dec. 30; Gallery Hop Reception, Fri. Nov. 16

Deadline for Entries: Slides or CD, postmark by Oct. 15, 2007; digital submission, email by Oct 17, 2007.

Art at the Cathedral, a gallery at Christ Church Cathedral in Lexington,
Kentucky, announces the Advent and Christmas exhibit, "Themes for Advent and
Christmas". The media can be two or three dimensional. The artwork would
illustrate how seasons of Advent and Christmas awaken our spirituality. We
look for art that is compelling visually and also engages the mind and
spirit. For more details and/or additional prospectus/entry forms go to
www.ccclex.org/Art-at-the-Cathedral.html

Art-at-the-Cathedral
166 Market Street
Lexington KY 40507

On View: Angels by Kathy Eppick

Light on the Cross We've Borne

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"All of us have experienced loss - the kind that plunges us into darkness. Sometimes, when we're lucky, the meaning of the experience comes into focus quickly. Other times, it can take months or even years for the light to finally land on the cross we've borne." Excerpt from Windows into the Soul - Art as Spiritual Expression by Michael Sullivan. Copyright © 2006. Morehouse Publishing, an imprint of Church Publishing Incorporated.

On View: Harvestfield (Luke 10:2) by Lorna L. Effler. Writing about this painting, the artist says, "Plentiful to harvest are fields of lentils where blue blossoms have developed into pods. The sea of lentils represents 'the world'. Planted in the middle are lilies, portraying the faithful believers of Jesus Christ in the world. These flowers are symbolic of rebirth and the 'resurrection of Christ'." more>
As seen in the ECVA exhibition Image and Likeness

The Holy Trinity - An Icon by Betsy Porter

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"... God almighty is our loving Father, and God all wisdom is our loving Mother, with the love and the goodness of the Holy Spirit, which is all one God, one Lord. And in the joining and the union he is our very true spouse and we his beloved wife and his fair maiden, with which wife he was never displeased; for he says: I love you and you love me, and our love will never divide in two." -Julian of Norwich, from Showings, as published in Theological Aesthetics, A Reader, edited by Gesa Elsbeth Thiessen. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. 2004. p.108

On Being Anglican

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A Special Issue of the Texas Episcopalian focuses on Anglicanism. Click here to visit the website of the Diocese of Texas, and click here to download the entire issue, made available for personal or congregational study.

The Texas Episcopalian (since 1897) is an official publication of the Episcopal Diocese of Texas. Publisher: The Rt. Rev. Don A. Wimberly. Editor: Carol E. Barnwell.

On View on the Cover of the Issue: Canterbury Cathedral, photo by Robin Smith.

Proclaiming God through Expressive Arts

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A work of art in its own right, the Philadelphia Cathedral houses a magnificent collection of soaring vaults, exquisite stained glass, art, tradition, and innovation. The Very Reverend Richard Giles is dean of the cathedral. "When it comes to the environment of worship," Giles says, "we should never underestimate the influence of our building upon the way we think about God, about each other, and about the relative importance of the activity we have come together to engage in."

For Giles, this includes the visual arts and the cathedral's artist in residence program. The Philadelphia Cathedral is one of several around the country that plays host to a community of artists and artisans whose works contribute to approaching and understanding faith. A multimedia video featuring the cathedral's program is available here. Additional information about the Arts at the Philadelphia Cathedral, under the direction of Riyehee Hong, Director of Music and the Arts, may be found here.

Dean Giles urges the chuch to reclaim its time-honored tradition as patron of the arts. He writes, ”The choice between re-ordering a church building and feeding the poor is like the choice between sunshine and rain; we need both ... The church has for most of its history proclaimed God through expressive arts, and this is no time to be abdicating that role, allowing the city art gallery or the shopping mall to usurp its honored place." - by the Very Reverend Richard Giles, Dean, The Cathedral Church of the Savior, Philadelphia in Re-Pitching the Tent: Reordering the Church Building for Worship and Mission, SCM Canterbury Press, 2004.

Saints & Family

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In the Anglican tradition, we commemorate saints and feasts on certain days in our calendar... However, saints (from the Latin sanctus, ‘holy’) eternally encourage us to come into greater familial closeness with our Creator, Christ, and the Holy Spirit. - from the Introduction to Saints & Family, an exhibition of the Episcopal Church.
On View: St Joseph (Jubilee Icon) by Patricia Resmondo.


The Art of Forgiveness : Images of the Prodigal Son

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Exhibition
The Art of Forgiveness : Images of the Prodigal Son
October 4, 2007 - February 17, 2008
at MoBiA
The Museum of Biblical Art
1865 Broadway at 61st Street, New York City

More than 50 prints, sculptures, and paintings by artists including Rembrandt, Pietro Testa and James Tissot will provide a wide-ranging overview of the impact this theme has had on the history of art. ... ducational programs will include a lecture series discussing the impact of the parable on art, literature and theology, featuring Tobias Wolff, well-known author of This Boy's Life and other works and a lecture by Holly Flora, assistant professor of Art History at Tulane University and the exhibition curator. - from the MoBiA website

On View: "Return of the Prodigal Son" by Thomas Hart Benton, ithograph on paper, 1939

Relics by Gerard DiFalco

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Solo Exhibition of Gerard Di Falco at DaVinci Art Alliance

November 1-30 | 2007 | DaVinci Art Alliance

One of Philadelphia’s most prolific, Episcopalian artists, Gerard (Jerry) Di Falco, will exhibit new works at the Da Vinci Art Alliance from November 1-30 in a solo show entitled, “QUANTUM CREATIVITY: RELICS OF THE OLD PHYSICS AND OF THE NEW ART”.

The gallery, located at 704 Catharine Street in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is just three blocks below South Street. Hours are: Fridays and Saturdays from 12 to 6:00pm; Sundays from 2 to 5:30pm; or, other times by appointment. An opening reception will be held in conjunction with First Fridays on Friday, November 2 from 5:00 to 7:30pm.

On Sunday November 11, Di Falco will present a slide-lecture at 3:00pm, “My Evolution in Art from 1977 to 2007”. A closing reception will be on Thursday, November 29, from 5:00 to 7:30pm, to honor this special artist. Di Falco has exhibited his liturgical and “Spiritual” paintings, icons, digital photos, and mixed media works at The Episcopal Cathedral of Philadelphia, The Pennsylvania Museum of Art, Show of Hands Gallery (shows at Show of Hands curated by Father Paul Harris), three of Box Heart’s Annual SPIRITUAL ART Exhibits, and at the final two years of the SACRED ART shows at the Coventry, Kentucky, Roman Catholic Cathedral. He will also have a solo exhibition of his icons at the CLOISTER GALLERY in Marblehead, MA, in 2008 (the art gallery at St. Andrew’s Episcopal). Read More >

Courtesy of The Philadelphia Episcopalian OnLine

Words of Peace

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About Words For Peace

Collaborative installation by Thomas Ingmire, Betsy Raymond and Kazumi Atsuta.

In March 2003, dismayed by both the imminent war in Iraq and ongoing U.S. defiance of the global community, Thomas Ingmire invited approximately eighty friends and colleagues to participate in a collective calligraphic project on the subjects of war, fear, and peace. Each person was asked to write out a statement on a 5" x 20" sheet of paper and send it to Thomas, who would then arrange these pieces into a work that would be shown as part of the Friends of Calligraphy exhibit, Kalligraphia X, at the San Francisco Public Library. Thomas also requested that the participants invite their friends, families, and colleagues to contribute statements; children, in particular, were encouraged to take part. To date, more than 750 people from twenty-eight nations have responded. This installation - Words For Peace - is the result.

With the invitations issued and pieces arriving daily in the mail, Thomas set about exploring various formats he might use as the unifying structure for the project. It soon became clear that creating a work whose "whole was greater than the sum of its parts" was going to be a challenge. Meanwhile, something unexpected was happening: Thomas began to realize that the participants' statements were raising questions for him which often felt as provocative as the statements themselves.

One such question was if a war is already in progress - or, in the case of Iraq, about to begin - then no matter how eloquent or heartfelt the protests against that war, do they come too late? A war does not simply start on one day and stop on another; its roots run wide and deep. If we truly want peace, Thomas reasoned, we must do more than protest against war at the eleventh hour. Instead, our day-to-day lives must reflect that desire. Thus the question "how do we achieve peace?" became for Thomas the more encompassing question "how are we to live - as individuals, as nations, as fellow inhabitants of the Earth?" and from that one question, not surprisingly, sprang many others.

Thomas decided to incorporate these questions into the work with the hope that they would prove thought provoking and even, perhaps, inspirational. Ultimately, he chose lanterns to serve as the structural heart of a sizeable installation. The lantern - a symbol not only of the desire to bring light into a world which seems so increasingly dark but also of the challenge which faces us to become more enlightened in and about the world-was a perfect choice.

Read more here>

Sacred Circles

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So often lately I have been reminded of the multitudes of sacred circles that gather across the country. In homes, over coffee, at book clubs and in lunch rooms, people gather with those they know and those they don't know, spending time in silence, study and prayer. Sometimes the time is structured, or even designed around liturgy, like the Easter Vigil shown in Pat Smith's expert photograph above. To my mind, people who sit alone, going solo in prayer and meditation, form sacred circles also. Their invisible circles are joined together by angels and saints.

I predict that these sacred circles will evolve into a habit of active mindfulness. People pausing before actions, decisions or responses; pausing with an intentional listening, watchful of their own consolation and desolation; and, seeking to act fruitfully, with love, patience, generosity, kindness and self-control.

On View: "Easter Vigil New Fire", photograph by Pat Smith. Pat is a photographer resident in the Diocese of California. See more of Pat's photography here.

Epiphany Mission

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"Nestled in a scenic valley of the southern Cumberland Mountains of Tennessee in the small community of Sherwood is Epiphany Mission Episcopal Church. People from across the country would visit the little stone church and its walled garden with pools, bricked walkways, multitude of flowers, and open-air chapel. ...

"One of the visitors to Epiphany Mission in 1953 was an accomplished abstract artist named Philip Perkins. He was so taken with the place and its work that he wanted to paint a new altarpiece for the chapel – a gift.

"A native of Tennessee, Perkins was an abstract painter well known for his geometric, cubist influenced work of the forties. Although he was an abstract painter, for the new altarpiece he painted a triptych in a style reminiscent of El Greco's work. ...

"The center panel depicts the Baptism of Christ by John the Baptist in the River Jordan. Above Christ is the image of a dove representing the Holy Spirit, and the hand of God is seen reaching out to Christ. John the Baptist is holding a staff made of two branches that form a cross. On the right panel is the figure of St. John the Evangelist, the apostle of love. On the left panel is the figure of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron of gardening and wildlife." Text by Dan Hardison. Read more >

(Please note: The editor apologizes for the quality of the image, which is shown here for its historic value. - Mel Ahlborn)

On View: The study for the Epiphany Mission triptych by Philip Perkins, c. 1953, oil on canvas, center pael 40" x 28", side panels 30" x 10". Photo by Dan Hardison. The study is a half-size rendering of the triptych that was installed in Epiphany Mission in 1954. The center panel shows the same depiction of the Baptism of Christ that was in the final version. Read more >

As seen in: Art, Community Story, an Episcopal Church and Visual Arts online exhibition.

Garden of Eden

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The artist writes, "Garden of Eden was commissioned by a clergy couple who wanted a visual reminder in their home of God's original blessing and friendship. I had fun with this painting using animals I was fortunate to see in their natural habitat during missionary service in Uganda (1998). While Eve is talking to the serpent, I continue to smile that the baboons are the ones eating the apple! (lower left)"

On View: Garden of Eden by Barbara Dee Baumgarten; Acrylic on paper, 1999, 58" x 50". The artist is a member of Christ Church, Kalispell, Montana.

As seen in Visual Preludes 2006, an Episcopal Church and Visual Arts exhibition, available in multimedia, DVD format.

Transcendently Present God

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God's Unknowableness
This work of art is titled 'The Spirit in Motion', and upon close examination we can see that it does a fine job of illustrating both the immanence and the transcendence of God.

Put simply, the concept of God as immanent speaks to the God of our intellectual and sensory understanding, and addresses those aspects of God that we as humans are able to discern and comprehend. Motion, the moving through time and space, is a quality that we are able to recognize, understand, and even reproduce with a fair amount of ease. The artists' use of 'Motion' in this piece suggests God's energies moving throughout the earth, evoking a clear understanding of God as immanent in the world.

God is both knowable and unknowable, and there are aspects and qualities of God that we are not able to assess, measure, or even describe. God's unknowableness can be thought of as the 'transcendence' of God, the 'transcendent' God, the ephemeral God of our faith beyond our human understanding. The artists' inclusion of 'Spirit' depicts the transcendence of God, through the use of a symbol for Spirit, the dove.

With this idea in mind that God is both knowable and unknowable, we can view art with room for faith to grow. God is both immanently present in our daily and at the same time is transcendently present. Art can assist us in cultivating a wholesome awareness of both.

On View
The Spirit in Motion, sterling silver on cedar; collaborative work created by wood artist Margaret Bailey and jewelry artist Nancy Denmark. Both artists are parishioners at The Church of the Epiphany, Houston and are members of the ECVA-Texas Chapter.

Saints Like You and Me

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On View: Saints Like You and Me
by The Rev. Nancy Mills
(Oil crayon on canvas board, 2006, 24" x 18")
Good Shepherd Episcopal Church - Thomasville, GA
nmills@rose.net

The artist, Nancy Mills, is an Episcopal priest in Georgia. She was featured in the Visual Preludes Resource Guide.

Mills writes, " My interest was to develop a primary image to illustrate the incredible variety amongst the enlightened beings we are each called to be, as we grow into the mind of Christ. I plan to continue to explore this iconic image using a wide variety of media and techniques."

As seen in: All Things in Christ, a Visual Preludes 2006 exhibition of Episcopal Church and Visual Arts. See more here>

For All the Saints

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For All the Saints
by Kathy Thaden
Mixed Media Mosaic, 2007
8" x 8"

Kathy Thaden is a mosaicist who has exhibited with Episcopal Church and Visual Arts since 2002. On her web site, www.thadenmosaics.com, Kathy writes, "In our throwaway society, Kathy is moved to reinvent and recycle discarded items - old boxes and chipped mirrors to name a few - into objects of art formed in prayer."

As Seen in : "Feasts for the Eyes", an exhibition of Episcopal Church and Visual Arts opening November 1, 2007.

A Robust Faith

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Places of Light
As a child, it was the art in church that filled me with a sense of awe and wonder, due in large part to the fact that the art in church was far more beautiful than anything else in my small, young world. So naturally I grew up to associate beauty with God . And today I continue to seek out God by looking for beauty, in the ordinary and in the aesthetic.

My own knowledge of God is becoming more robust, as are my expectations for art and its capacity to give visibility to God whom I believe seeks to be seen as much as I seek to see. But am I placing responsibility squarely where it belongs? Who's job is it anyway, to 'give visibility to God', the artist, or the viewer?

My calligrapher friend Roy Parker, OHC, offers an answer when he quotes Emmanuel Cardinal Sumaro, " To be a witness does not consist in engaging propaganda, nor in stirring people up, but in being a living mystery."

Photographer Krystyna Sanderson captures a moment of 'living mystery' in her photograph above, 'Places of Light.' Krystyna is a founding member of the ECVA Board, and, with Jack Moody, leads the ECVA-NY Chapter.

On View: Places of Light #3, photograph. Also seen here.

Sanderson writes, "Light #3 is all about light pouring through open door to illuminate dark place. To be in darkness is to be without hope, to be desperate, to give up. But there is nothing more joyous than light when one is in darkness. Light means hope. Light means freedom. Light means life. Our Lord Jesus Christ is our hope, our joy, and our life." - from: It Was Good: Making Art to the Glory of God, Square Halo, 2007.

Thanksgiving Arrangement #1

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Martha Bean is a master gardener and grew nearly all of the fruits and vegetables in this Thanksgiving arrangement herself. She creates an arrangement like this for St. James each Thanksgiving, to symbolize the many fruits of the harvest for which we are thankful.

On View: Thanksgiving Arrangement #1 by Martha Bean. Photo by James R. Wilson
Floral art, 2005. St. James Episcopal Church - Texarkana, TX

As Seen In: Visual Preludes 2006 - All Things in Christ, an exhibition of Episcopal Church and Visual Arts. Anne Wetzel, Curator.

Good Friday: Lebanon Bombing

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"The 2006 Lebanon War is the motivation of this work.

"The conflict killed more than a thousand people, most of who were Lebanese, and displaced approximately 1.4 million people. Although most of the displaced were able to return to their homes, parts of Southern Lebanon remain uninhabitable due to unexploded cluster bombs.

"The image shows a result of this war: a Lebanese man stands amidst the devastation of his community, destruction is everywhere.

"Warfare is a recapitulation of the Christ’s passion. Those who die as a result of warfare share in the death of Christ on the cross. The solution to warfare is found in the words of Christ from the cross, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Forgiveness is breathed over the whole creation on Good Friday, may forgiveness blow through the hearts and minds of those who wage war."
- The Rev. Paul Fromberg

On View: Good Friday : Lebanon Bombing, by The Rev. Paul Fromberg, Photoshop, 2006, 2251 pix x 1500 pix.

As Seen In: Feasts for the Eyes, an exhibition of Episcopal Church and Visual Arts. Judith McManis, curator.

The Artist's Work on the Church

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"Art like worship and study should be functional, serve a definite purpose and out of that purpose can come beauty of expression and all other decorative characteristics."
— Allan Crite, The Artist Craftsman's Work on the Church, Commentary on the 1950s, Vertical File, Library, National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.

In memoriam: Allan Rohan Crite, 1910-2007. Lux perpetua. Gloria Deo.
As reported in Episcopal Life Faithworks, November 2007, print edition, page 14.

On View: School's Out, painting by Allan Rohan Crite. 1936. Oil on canvas. 30.25" x 36.125". Image courtesy of the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

About the Artist: Brought up in Boston, Crite received his art training at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree at the Harvard University Extension School in 1968. He worked for most of his life as an illustrator in the Planning Department of the Boston Naval Shipyards, retiring in 1976, but continued to paint at the same time. Biography courtesy of the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

A Door that Leads Everywhere

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On View: Door with Ivy, Photograph by Lynn Park, San Francisco, California. For more information about the photography of Lynn Park, contact the Art Editor.

Good Shepherd, Silver Spring

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My friend Erling Hope is the artist and craftsman who designed and constructed this cross for Good Shepherd Episcopal Church in Silver Spring, Maryland. Erling wrote in a note to me this morning that he selected a small section of a much larger pattern to evoke the sense of a Celtic interlace within the cleft of the cross. The idea to use bright variegated colors came from the congregation and the design committee. "I resisted at first," writes the artist, "but now see that it was the right idea for the space." You can see an image of the cross, installed at God Shepherd Silver Spring, here.

On View: Cross by Erling Hope, Hope Liturgical Works. 2007.

The Necessity of Art at a Time Like This

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Creativity and innovation can be a counterforce against the violent unmaking of our society. - Michael S. Roth, in the San Francisco Chronicle, June 29, 2004

Michael S. Roth, immediate past president of the California College for the Arts, lobbied for the necessity of art in a time of war. He counseled the artists and poets and filmmakers who made up the graduating class of 2004 to consider how the skills of making are powerful, proactive and peaceful responses to destruction, deprivation and degradation. And I agree, heart and soul.

Artists are our both our hope and our conscience. They tend to speak when propriety might recommend they be silent; artists will shout when propriety might recommend that they whisper. Artists preserve the ability to hold at bay the tidal waves of current events in order to create from a reserve removed from time and place; and they also proclaim the right to use the subjects of current events to announce their reactions to the world as it is around them. And artists, when organized, have contributed to the rebuilding of society.

One example is the Arts and Crafts Movement of the 19th century, which began as a response to industrialization in Europe and the United Kingdom. A reformation in its own right, the Arts and Crafts Movement was rooted in quality, integrity, craftsmanship, skill and purpose. Whether or not the styles emerging from the Arts and Crafts Movement echo the reader's own personal taste, the movement itself reformed society's thinking about the role of the artist and the essential nature of the work of the artist in contemporary culture.

On View: Nor Any Drop to Drink by Margaret Adams Parker. 2007. Woodcut over collagraph with solarplate etchings. 23" x 19".

As Seen In: Landscapes and Laments, Woodcuts, Etchings and Sculpture by Margaret Adams Parker, at the Washington Printmakers Gallery, 1732 Connecticut Avenue NW, Washington DC.

A MMORPG Ministry

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A Christian community for those who call themselves: Anglicans, Episcopalians or members of the Church of England, Episcopal Church or any of the other bodies of believers who share the Anglican heritage.
- from the Charter of the Anglican Community, SL

The Anglican Cathedral on Epiphany Island holds 5 services a week, hosts regular bible study, and engages a young Kiwi vicar, Mark Brown, who preaches on topics like "Six Steps to an Amazing Christian Walk."

It is arguably the newest Anglican Cathedral, built in May 2007 by Monty Merlin. It has been sited high on a rise of Epiphany Island, with sweeping views of mountains, valleys and the seas which surround it. Vaulted gothic ceilings are supported by granite columns punctuated by glorious windows of stained glass. Since it opened its new cathedral doors last spring, the Anglican community on Epiphany Island has grown to more than 300 individuals.

The Anglican Cathedral on Epiphany Island was built to support the Anglican Group in Second Life, which was founded in November 2006 by Bill Sowers, who is a member of St David's Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Kansas.

I urge my readers to consider these facts before deeply discounting the relevance of this MMORPG ministry : the virtual world of Second Life is an international community with millions of members, and the average age of the Second Life player is considered to be in the range of mid-20s to mid-30s. The lay and ordained leadership of The Anglican Cathedral on Epiphany Island are reaching out by logging on. I believe that their work in SL is creating an essential bridge between tradition and technology. As they build trust and deepen relationships among the SL community, they are proclaiming the gospel. For more information, visit the homepage of The Anglican Church in Second Life here.

The Contradiction of Systematic Disparagement

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Anyone who has taken an introductory course in art history will be familiar with the systematic disparagement that the holy receives from TAW*. Artists in TAW seem to earn the title 'artist' only after demonstrating mastery of several disciplines that include a code of conduct and an ethic of work that shuns reference and reverence to the sacred. German painter Gerhard Richter could be categorized in this way. Until now, that is.

Gerhard Richter has experienced a change of (he)art. Considered an important painter in the post-World War II era, Richter has come out, saying "I'm less antagonistic to 'the holy', to the spiritual experience, these days. It's part of us and we need that quality." Context for the artist's statement relates to Richter's commission to create a stained glass window for the Cologne Cathedral in Germany. His first designs depicted the Nazi execution of the innocents, with an illustrator's figurative approach. Dissatisfied with his first trials, Richter returned to his earlier work, from the 1970s, when he was exploring abstraction, and based the design for the stained glass window on one of his color-field paintings, '4,096 Colors', from 1974. The result is a blend of technology and tradition that embraces the colors of the traditional windows in the ancient gothic space while affirming the value of abstraction in approaching a reference and reverence for the holy.

Richter's Pixelated Stained Glass has been named to the New York Times 2007 Annual Year in Ideas. Read more here

Images Spiegel Online

* Reference to TAW (The Art World) from A Broken Beauty, edited by Theodore Prescott, 2005, W. B. Eerdmans Publishing, Grand Rapids, Michigan.

The Standard of Eternity

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"In the metaphors used by the Christian creeds about the mind of the maker, the Christian artist can recognize a true relation to his [her] own experience; and it is his business to record the fact of that recognition in any further metaphor that the reader [viewer] may understand and apply." - Dorothy Sayers, The Mind of the Maker, 1941 Harcourt Brace, p. 41

If we take Sayers' statement to be true, and I do, then there is a responsibility on the part of the Christian artist to not only seek out cues in support of our intellect's understanding of God, but to portray that information in clear and persuasive ways. This responsibility on the part of the artist comes into focus as a natural extension of the artist's spiritual life, one that is supported by spiritual disciplines and practices that will enfold the artist both in private and in community. And on the part of the viewer, their responsibility is equally serious. For the viewer, their job is to look upon the work of the artist and measure it against the standard of Eternity.

On View: A Paradox of the Holy, photographic montage, by Wilfredo Benitez-Rivera, 2007.

About the artist: Wilfredo Benitez-Rivera is photographer who observes the world through a contemplative eye. He is an Episcopal priest in the Diocese of Los Angeles, and rector of St Anselm of Canterbury Episcopal Church in Garden Grove, California and a frequent exhibiting artist with Episcopal Church & Visual Arts. About the image A Paradox of the Holy, Benitez-Rivera writes, "Three images fused. Graffiti in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem; Muslim Children in the Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem; and a young girl's face from the Anglican Church in Ramalah."

Additional Resources: Sacred Text as Window - Seeing one's self through the eyes of another, Epiphany West 2008 Church Divinity School of the Pacific, Co-sponsored by the Center for Anglican Learning & Leadership, the Center for Jewish Studies and the Center for Islamic Studies at the Graduate Theological Union, and the Episcopal Church’s Office of Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations.

A Mansion Prepared for Himself

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Purify our conscience, Almighty God,
by your daily visitation,
that your Son Jesus Christ,
at his coming,
may find in us a mansion prepared for himself;
who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Wishing you a Blessed Christmastide
from Episcopal Church and Visual Arts

ECVA Board of Directors
Mel Ahlborn, Ken Arnold, Phoebe Griswold, Jerry Hames,
Tom Moore, Clay Morris, Bob Tate

ECVA Staff

Ruth Councell, Brie Dodson, C. Robin Janning, Jan Neal

ECVA Chapter Leadership
Mel Ahlborn, Carol Barnwell, Deborah Cantwell, Ruth Councell,
Tom Faulkner, Rachel Guernsey, Riyehee Hong,
Michelle Draper Lorton, Judith McManis, John Moody,
Kate Robbins, Krystyna Sanderson, Bob Tate

Epiphany Times Three

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On View: Epiphany Times Three by Kathrin Burleson. Watercolor, 2007, 8" x 10" .

As seen in: Feasts for the Eyes, an exhibition of Episcopal Church and Visual Arts. Judith McManis, curator.

Epiphany by Frank Logue

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On View: Epiphany by Frank Logue. Infrared film, toned gelatin silver print.

As seen in: A New Light : Collects of Advent, Christmas and Epiphany, an exhibition of Episcopal Church and Visual Arts. Bradford Johnson, curator.

The Visit, the Baptism and the First Miracle

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"Epiphany, which today is primarily associated with the birth of Jesus and the visit of the magi, originally celebrated three manifestations - the visit of the magi, the baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan, and the first miracle at the wedding at Cana." - Kathrin Burleson.

Kathrin is an artist living in Trinidad, California, and her thoughts on the meaning of Epiphany are thought-provoking. Read more of Kathrin Burleson.

On View: Epiphany by Dennis Di Vicenzo. Mixed Media, 2007

As seen in: Feasts for the Eyes, an exhibition of Episcopal Church and Visual Arts. Judith McManis, curator.

Road by Ruth Tietjen Councell

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On View: Road by Ruth Tietien Councell.

As Seen In: Comfort and Joy, Painting by Ruth Tietien Councell. January 6 - February 1, 2008. Trenton Cathedral, Trenton New Jersey.

Memory and Story

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What we remember about the past is so closely linked to the stories that we tell. What others will know about us, about how we lived the days that were ours, depends on those stories and the questions that they answer. Was life filled with grief and illness? Did pain overtake us? How did we manage when faced with our own call?

Our stories are personal and they are communal. Just as my actions today have an impact on those with whom I work, my own scripting of the events of my day and the nature in which I chose to describe these events also has an impact on the body of creation within which I live. In other words, what memories am I creating with the stories that I tell? What questions was I faced with today and to whom did I turn for guidance and counsel? When I was criticized, when I was praised, when I noticed the need of another - and when I tell that story, am I telling from Love or from self?

Your story-telling, and mine, can weave living and family and work and hope and worry and yielding and triumph all the while as it carries the possibility of the transformative moment. Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life? ~ Mary Oliver, from "The Summer Day", New and Selected Poems, Beacon Press, Boston, MA 1992

On View: Morning by Ruth Tietien Councell.

As Seen In: Comfort and Joy, Painting by Ruth Tietien Councell. January 6 - February 1, 2008. Trenton Cathedral, Trenton New Jersey.

Dreams into Action

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Life Essentials
from the website of Episcopal Relief and Development

Episcopal Relief and Development provides emergency assistance in times of disaster; rebuilds devastated communities and offers long-term program development solutions to fight poverty.

We save lives after an emergency
Disasters - whether man-made or natural - happen all the time. When they strike, we help people by supplying food, water, and medicine immediately. We prevent vulnerable people from further suffering, especially women, children, and the elderly.

We help communities rebuild when the crisis is over

Hurricanes, earthquakes, and other catastrophes leave people with nothing. We work hand-in hand with local communities to build new homes, plant crops, create clean water systems, construct clinics and schools, and offer critical post trauma counseling.

We create opportunities for people living in poverty
In many places in the world, people can't feed their families or give them basic health care. Through our food security and primary health care program, we provide farming and business training, health care services, and HIV/AIDS programs in communities where families are struggling to survive. We give people the tools to earn an income and create opportunities for their children.

To learn more about the work of ERD and how you can help, read here.

On View: Life Essentials, by Episcopal Relief & Development. Photograph, 2005. Ayana Davis, Episcopal Church Center - New York, NY.

As Seen In: Visual Preludes 2006, an exhibition of Episcopal Church and Visual Arts.

Seekers of Light

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Photographers and their ways of seeing have profoundly changed the way I walk through the world. Just yesterday I was silently thanking my artist-photographer friends for opening up new ways of seeing, simply by doing what it is they they do best.

As the sun warmed the street in front of my mailbox there were stripes of brilliant green emerging from cracks in the asphalt. Each was a perfectly formed wisp of color, with arching leaves and pulsing veins. Some had tall thread-like extensions that ended in rounded seed-like shapes reaching high into the air above the matting of leaves below. Together they paraded a vibrancy of life, drinking in the sun for nourishment as we might enjoy a glass of orange juice with our morning toast. The not-so-ordinary in this for me was getting down on my knees so that I could notice each wisp was no larger than the head of a pin.

In that instant, I received a blessing in the form of a pause amid my daily work for a brief yet sustaining glimpse at the wonder of God's creation. I found myself less connected with the events of my day and more reflective on the gifts of God. The sense of renewal that I experienced pointed toward a kind of personal photosynthesis, akin to the plant kingdom's gift of taking sunlight and water and converting it into the stuff of life.

"An encounter with the beautiful lifts our eyes beyond the commonplace and gives us a reason for going on, for ranging beyond the mundane, for endeavoring ourselves always to become more than we are." - Joan Chittister, OSB, 'Monastic Wisdom for Seekers of Light', Religious Life Review, vol. 40, May/June, 2001; as quoted in Theological Aesthetics, A Reader, Gesa Elsbeth Thiessen, ed., Wm. B. Erdmans, 2004.

On View: Church Office, Thanksgiving. Photograph by the Rev. Scott Fisher, Fairbanks, Alaska. With thanks to Ann Fontaine for the hat tip.

The Prodigal Artist

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For behold, you look for truth deep within me ~ Psalm 51:8a

The artists' way includes periods when the artist feels much more like the prodigal than like the beloved. This 'prodigal period' is marked by a yearning within the artist to get closer, to return home, to start again. These yearnings are signposts of course, vapor trails indicating something much deeper at work. Outwardly the 'prodigal period' can be marked by a vague restlessness. For some the 'prodigal period' is filled with a quietness that can throw the artist off the trail of an important invitation to spiritual growth. Whatever the presenting symptoms, the 'prodigal period' for an artist is always indicative of a desire acting deep within the artist to bring their creative work and their spiritual life into closer harmony.

An artist's work is the artist's visual proclamation to the world. The 'prodigal period' impels the artist to resolve the differences between what the artist is creating and what the artist was born to create. For Christians, the Baptismal Covenant guides our life as the beloved of Christ and it guides the artist's way too. The resolution of the 'prodigal period' is to be found in a closer pairing of what the prodigal artist creates with what the beloved artist is creating in the mind and heart of Christ.

Seeking to be the beloved artist, the prodigal artist tends to those actions and predispositions that separate them from loving their neighbor, from remembering others, from loving God heart and soul. As these actions become known, the artist may sense the qualities of a penitent heart beginning to emerge - feelings of regret and remorse, even shame, are possible. But here is the joy hidden in the dark and the time to remember the parable of the lost son (Luke 15:11-32) Sincere sorrow for failings will be met with compassion and forgiveness. Admit the imperfection; pray for wisdom; pledge to try anew. And if all of this seems too much at first, a simple beginning is the discipline of a work blessing before each creative session. Just as the preacher intones on Sunday, 'May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all of our hearts be acceptable unto You, O Lord, our Strength and Our Redeemer,' so too the artist at the beginning of each work period can dedicate themselves and their work to God's glory.

O God, whom saints and angels delight to worship in heaven: Be ever present with your servants who seek through art and music to perfect the praises offered by your people on earth; and grant to them even now glimpses of your beauty, and make them worthy at length to behold it unveiled for evermore; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
- Collect for Church Musicians and Artists, BCP p. 819

On View: Fifth Station, The Cross is Laid on Simon of Cyrene, painting by Simon Carr.
Acrylic on Canvas, 24" high by 22" wide

As Seen In: Walking the Way of the Cross, The Rev. Thomas Faulkner, Curator. An exhibition of Episcopal Church and Visual Arts.

The Manga Bible

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The Manga Bible is a Bible adaptation created in the style of 'Manga', which is Japanese for 'comics' or 'whimsical images.' The concept artist for the project, Siku, has published four different volumes:

- The Manga Bible - Raw, A small format edition containing the Manga adaptation of the full Bible plus brief features such as 'Introducing the Bible', creators' commentary on key scenes, and a 'Drawing the Manga Bible' workshop by Siku himself.

- The Manga Bible -Extreme, Containing both the full TNIV text of the Bible plus the entire Manga adaptation, this is the most Extreme version of the Bible yet! The extra features include Siku discussing the creation of The Manga Bible, an artist's workshop, and an introduction to the Bible.

- The Manga Bible: NT-Raw, A small-format edition of Siku's New Testament. As well as the comic strip, it contains a number of 'extras': a 'Creating the Manga Bible' interview with Siku and Akin, a 10-page sketches gallery and a brief article explaining what the real Bible is and how it came to be written.

- The Manga Bible: NT-Extreme, A deluxe, large-format edition of Siku's New Testament. As well as the comic strip, the 'Creating the Manga Bible' interview and the introduction to the Bible article, it contains the full text of the New Testament scriptures, using Today's New International Version of the Holy Bible

Ajinbayo Akinsiku, the concept artist and graphic designer for the project, is in seminary in London with the goal of ordination as an Anglican priest. He is quoted as saying, "Christ is a hard guy, seeking revolution and revolt, a tough guy." (New York Times, "The Bible as Graphic Novel" by Neela Banerjee, 2/10/08, A14)

A link to purchase The Manga Bible is available here with the convenience of one-click purchase through the Amazon.com Associates program. All purchases referred from visio-divina.com support Episcopal Cafe Art Blog, Episcopal Church and Visual Arts, and Visio Divina programming.

The Primary Focus is Art

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Where are the artists whose primary focus is art? It is a given that artists work from their own cultural context and life circumstances; this we can expect. If art is a blender, then the artist's life, training and influence are what goes into the mix. What comes out is art, at least some of the time. And it is the artist that throws the switch.

- Some artists, iconographers especially, can fit religion in a neat and tidy way with their craft. This is evident in their ability to assimilate to proscribed traditions. Their primary focus seems to be on faith.

- For other artists, their art reveals a road map of their seekings, spiritual and otherwise. Their body of work is a set of visual morning pages. Their primary focus also seems to be on faith.

- And then there are the artists whose work reveals the quality of their listening and their response to the call to originality. Pie-Raymond Regamey, the French priest and visionary, wrote in the mid-20th century that 'strictly speaking sacred art only requires a sacred character of the actual artistic creation, of the artist's exercise of his [or her] art.' For artists such as these, their primary focus is art. I think we need a deeper understanding of this; I certainly do.

On View: "Little Buds Tell Us Spring is Near", watercolor on paper by Emma Lou Martin.

Emma Lou Martin will teach a workshop on the use of watercolor in the landscape and the studio at Art and Soul 2008, the annual conference at The Cathedral Shrine of the Transfiguration in the heart of Virginia's Shenandoah Valley. To download information about this year's conference, click here.

Pie-Raymond Regamey quotation from Theological Aesthetics - A Reader, ed. Gesa Elsbeth Thiessen. By Gesa Elsbeth Thiessen. Published 2005, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing. Originally published: London : SCM Press, 2004. To purchase a copy of this book, click here.

Christian Grafitti

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Text and Photography
by The Rev. Frank Logue, Vicar
King of Peace Episcopal Church
Kingsland, Georgia

Art is not created in a vacuum. Each of us builds on the work of those who have gone before us, adding our own unique vision to a larger body.

This photograph was taken in the Temple of Dendera. North of Luxor, in Egypt, this temple looks like many ancient Egyptian temples, but all is not as it seems. Just as a neo-gothic church was built to harken back to the mystery of gothic churches built centuries earlier, this temple was built by the Ptolemies who ruled Egypt from 305 BCE to 30 BC. They were a Greek family who came to rule Egypt following Alexander the Great's conquest. The Ptolemies built new buildings in the style of the ancient Egyptians of 2,000 years earlier. This picture is of the hypostyle hall with its 18-Hathor Columns supporting a roof decorated with astrological scenes. This Ptolemaic temple was built on the foundations of a temple that probably dated to Khufu from around 2570 BCE. The temple was begun by the Ptolemies and completed by the Roman Emperor Tiberius who reigned during Jesus' lifetime.

It is neither purely Egyptian nor Greek, but a Greek interpretation of the glory of Egypt. Then graffitied on this column is a cross from a time when the hall was used for Christian worship. The cross is carved so that a Egyptian God is holding it aloft giving the old column yet a new interpretation. Then adding its own layer of meaning, I photographed the hall with light slanting through the old temple thinking of how each of us builds on what has gone before.

Like every work of art, the photograph is as much my autobiography as anything. Each work is another page in the diary of the artist as the choices made in creating a piece all reflect the creator. Each layer from Khufu, to Ptolemies, to Tiberius, to Christian graffiti, to a contemporary photograph leaves meaning hidden within the finished print. Each layer the diary entry of an artist contributing to a much larger work.

"According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building on it. Each builder must choose with care how to build on it."
I Corinthians 3:10


As Seen In ECVA Sketchbook, Jan Neal, Editor
Read more of Frank Logue's commentaries here.

See more Frank Logue photography here.

Expressing Infinity

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Painting and Essay by Jerome Lawrence

Express to make known one's opinions or feelings

We are often content to move through life in a straight line, painfully aware of the obvious and pleasantly amused by harmless deviation regardless of magnitude. We encounter art and it doesn’t seem to matter to the creators of it what we really want, the type of day we’ve had or what kind of stress we’re under. Many of us are taught to see to the needs of others and we’re often surprised when others don’t care for themselves much less about us.

The moments we think that we are in control come and go with varying effect on our actual position of power, while our opinions change, our moods shift, our consciousness wavers and the only certainty seem to be that we want what we want when we want it. A better understanding of others will allow greater influence as we attempt to move, excite, and otherwise manipulate a person’s emotions, attitudes, ideas, etc. to gain acceptance, compassion and understanding or whatever else we have determined at this moment is what we want.

We must understand that our most crystal clear expression may not be so to a large part of our audience. Design your expressions to both continue the process of your understanding and to begin mine. We know that what is outside of us is the same but is seen differently by each one. And if we each see that which is outside of us differently, sharing the specifics of tints and shades within our mind becomes an increasingly difficult task. Emotions are common, but how many of us can admit to feeling only one emotion without a mix of many others in different degrees? Your ability to express is an important part of my ability to understand. Of the differences between individuals I ask you importantly to consider differences in mental health. With differing access to information, varying capacity to understand and to not misunderstand and differing ability to make use of information there is ample opportunity to either harm and take advantage through confusion or to gainfully assist others by becoming an instrument of clarity. Which do you want?

Imagine being on a desolate planet. You are a blob. Your only thought is to survive. Parts of you extend in search of nourishment. Locomotion is developed to further assist your search. Your development of senses helps to glean every advantage from your surroundings. Your purpose becomes to effectively maneuver within your environment reserving strength, increasing stamina, maintaining peak condition in order to efficiently obtain nourishment and knowledge; ever increasing your ability to not only sustain your existence but also to thrive. Contentment and dissatisfaction are gaged to monitor your progress in achieving this goal. To thrive is what you want whether you realize it or not. You encounter an identical blob. How much can you assume? With identical parts can you also assume identical thoughts, emotions, desires and identical purpose? Can our entire existence be summed in the practice of getting what we want without regard for the thoughts, emotions, desires and possible purposes of coexisting blobs?

Within your life and your life’s work, take full advantage of that which makes you a unique “blob”. Highlight the laughter of a shimmering lake in a way that only you can. Entrench the coarse shrill of a scream into our psyche or deliver a “knock out punch” with that feather of an idea you didn’t think you had much use for. There is a way of seeing that only you possess. An important tactic in getting what we want is to share. Giving a part of you is prerequisite to receiving in many cases. Share with your audience helpful thoughts, feelings, experiences, attitudes, and even that for which we haven’t words but know in our hearts has shared value.

On View: Infinity by Jerome Lawrence. 20x24, acrylic on canvas. BFA, Georgia State University. Jerome Lawrence's solo exhibitions in Georgia include galleries such as Sabra Gallery, Ferst Center for the Arts at Georgia Tech, Chances Gallery, City Gallery East, VSA Arts for All Gallery, and others. His artwork is part of the documentary Shadow Voices & Building on Faith by Mennonite Media, and he has been interviewed by CNN news, WXIA-TV and WSB-TV in Atlanta, Georgia.

Jerome Lawrence's work was featured in Visual Preludes 2006, an exhibition of Episcopal Church & Visual Arts for the 75th General Convention of The Episcopal Church, Columbus, Ohio, 2006.

Art Makers are _____(Choose one or more)

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Art is a powerful force. It contributes to the formation of our attitudes, our beliefs and even our behaviors. It is the subject of study in history and sociology, and more recently, in the church.

An examination of how art exists in cross-cultural contexts reveals a list of roles that art and artists play. This list includes:
- ascribers of meaning;
- ascribers of status;
- catalysts of social change;
- enhancers and decorators;
- interpreters;
- magicians;
- mythmakers;
- propagandists;
- recorders of history;
- sociotherapists;
- storytellers; and
- teachers.
(from Celebrating Pluralism - Art, Education and Cultural Diversity, F. Graeme Chalmers, 1996, The J. Paul Getty Trust.

In addition to the qualities of art and artists listed above, I would add the following:
- prophets;
- keepers of conscience;
- visionaries;
- recorders of humanity.

On View: Elijah in the Chariot of Fire, Contemporary Byzantine Icon by Betsy Porter. Photograph by Richard Anderson. More information is available at the artist's website, betsyporter.com

As Seen At: Gallery 1055 in the Diocese of California, 1055 Taylor Street, San Francisco. Through mid-April.

A Linen Shroud

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And he bought a linen shroud, and taking Jesus down, wrapped him in it, and laid him in a tomb which had been cut out of the rock. Mark 15:46

A couple of years ago, an artist associated with our parish died. As a tribute to his life and labor, we exhibited a few of his works in our gathering space. Many people came for the exhibit and spent time with the impressive canvases of garden flowers, fruits, and other objects of nature. Some of the paintings were enormous oils with heavy gilded frames; others were diminutive, almost whimsical portrayals of the basic things of life yet portrayed in grandiose style.

The more I lived with these paintings the less I saw of the objects. Walking through the space each day I gained a new perspective on his work. Gradually, as if thread by thread, I began to notice that every painting had a linen cloth wrapped deep within the composition. Not an afterthought or casual object of Renaissance style, the cloth struck me as the central figure, the very essence of each painting. This incredible artist had taken a negative space and emphasized it so much that the cloth became the centerpiece of the composition. And in every case, the cloth was white. He had given us an image of nature’s rebirth amidst the flowers and fruits, and at the same time, he had bestowed something of our own rebirth into each composition by transforming simple linen into a shroud of resurrection.

We often miss resurrection. It’s there, right beside us each day. But somehow, we become so fixed on all the objects around us that we fail to see the central theme. So when things are crazy, we focus on the elements creating the chaos instead of the undercurrent of hope and joy amidst it all. We become so absorbed in the details, we fail to see the deep abiding theme of new life running like a beautiful shroud throughout life.

I now return to the image of the shroud when I lose sight of God’s resurrection in my life. Having that image has helped me when the details start to control and I forget the total composition of my life. I begin to see the white linen – something left behind – as evidence that new birth, new life is taking place. I stop and visualize how that shroud looks in my life and I start looking for it amidst all the busyness that captures me. And the incredible thing – I have yet to find a place where God has not already left that beautiful shroud for all of us to see.

About the Author: The Rev. Michael Sullivan is Rector of St John's Episcopal Church, Lynchburg, Va, and author of Windows into the Soul - Art as Spiritual Expression, Morehouse, 2006.

On View: Untitled, with white, by Taylor Harbison. 2003. Oil on canvas. Courtesy of the Daniel Garza and the Estate of Taylor Harbison.


With Eyes to See New Life

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During the first prayer of the Easter Vigil service, the priest addresses God as Creator and Divine Revivifier. O God, who wonderfully created, and yet more wonderfully restored the dignity of human nature... (BCP,p 288). This prayer is an active prayer of response, a prayer spoken by the priest on behalf of the people who have just heard the story of Creation. It is a dangerous prayer, acknowledging that there are cracks in the fabric of the universe. The Seen and the Unseen are not divided into a tidy arrangement of separate absolutes. Oh no. The business of God is at work amongst the people gathered. And the priest, by virtue of his or her vows, stands between God and God's people to claim the new life that God is giving, has given, and continues to give.

It was with this event in mind, the Easter Vigil service that occurred across the globe on March 22 2008, that I chose art that might represent for us a revivifying image for our eyes, that we might see this new life, this 'Christos Aneste!', that our priests have already proclaimed and received on our behalf.

Traditional Resurrection imagery depicts Christ breaking the bonds of death, for himself and for all of humanity past present and future, in the iconic representation 'The Harrowing of Hell.' visible in this link to the British Library's online gallery. This folio from Queen Melisende's Psalter dates to the early 12th century, with the verso (left page) showing an illumination of 'The Harrowing of Hell'. Christ is shown bursting through the doors of hell, in a pose filled with strength and action. Christ's descent into Hell triumphs in the saving of all souls residing there, and in this image Christ is grabbing the hand of a man who is himself in an active pose of climbing out to claim new life himself. The recto (right page) is an illumination of 'The Angel at the Empty Tomb', with sleeping guards and the angel of the Lord proclaiming the resurrection at the entrance to the abandoned rock. Three women are shown entering the scene from the left. They are arriving with plans to dress Jesus' body for burial, and carry flasks filled with unguents. 'The Harrowing of Hell' uses narrative imagery to tell the story of Christ's Resurrection from a biblical perspective.

'Easter', a mixed media piece by Dennis Di Vicenzo, uses contemporary graphics to tell the story of Christ's Resurrection from his perspective. Di Vicenzo breathes new meaning into the symbols of Easter and offers us a visual language of new interpretation. In 'Easter', there is action as the Pascal lamb and all that follows is poured out of the cup of salvation. The communion host, the fish, the heart, the text from the prayer book, the stained glass windows - all of these symbols illustrate the story of Easter. In using imagery that is understood by people today, Di Vicenzo is in his own way offering his viewers eyes to see new life.

And yet, something is missing. What do we have in 'Easter' to draw all of these individual pieces together? It is the very same that is missing from 'The Harrowing of Hell.' The imagery in both pieces of art needs an explanation if it is to have meaning for a person today. Would you have known that the two rectangles beneath Christ's feet were doors if someone had not told you? Likely not. Would you recognize the cup as pouring out God's promise of salvation to all peoples? Perhaps not.

In both of these pieces of art, the crack in the fabric of the universe is represented. The Seen and the Unseen mix it up, just like in life. The artists have done their work. If you cannot see the story of Resurrection in these two pictures, take heart. Through your baptism and your priest, you have been given eyes to see new life. Go out into the world and see symbols and signs of the resurrection for yourself.


On View: Easter by Dennis Di Vincenzo. Mixed media, 2007.

As seen in: Feasts for the Eyes, an exhibition of Episcopal Church & Visual Arts, Judith McManis, Curator.

Acknowledgments
With thanks to Donald Shell for suggesting the icon of 'The Harrowing of Hell'; to Deirdre Good for assistance with art direction; and, to Larry Hunter for his Vigil sermon.

Standards of Purity

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Have you ever felt pressured because you failed to conform to someone else's standards?
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Have you ever sought anonymity in order to be yourself without fear of retribution?
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Have the standards of an institution exerted such pressure on you that, when conversion was not possible for you, you sought sanctuary in duality?
Kyrie eleison

Freedoms of speech and worship in the United States are protected by the First Amendment to the US Constitution.

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." ~ The First Amendment was ratified on December 15, 1791

On View: Black and white are considered pure colors in the artist's palette. When mixed in equal proportions they create 50% gray. Gray is not so much a duality of white and black - once combined we cannot separate out pure white from pure black. Gray is its own color entirely, with its own identity, properties, strengths and weaknesses.

The MFA is the new MBA. Is it the new M.Div?

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“Imagination is more important than knowledge.”

-Albert Einstein

The MFA is the new MBA 1, according to Daniel Pink, and it might even be the new MDiv 2.

Pink portrays artists' conceptual skills, developed through drawing, color theory and eye-hand discipline, as essential to today's business skill set. America's boardrooms have begun to listen. Corporations like General Motors are training employees with workshops to develop their conceptual thinking skills.

In this morning's New York Times one workshop teacher talks about what happens when he goes into a Fortune 500 corporation and teaches the employees to draw. Brian Bomeisler says that in teaching people how to draw, "I am teaching them an entirely new way to see. They unbox their minds and absorb what's really there, with all of the complexity and beauty."

Bomeisler sounds like a minister. After all, one of the church's missions is to teach people how to see with new eyes. This blog carried an article 'With Eyes to See New Life' just two weeks ago. The 21st century church encourages the formation of merciful eyes because it seeks a merciful heart for the world. The church's aim is to show the world what the world 'most needs to see,'3 in all of its global complexity. And so, as the church moves forward in its 21st century mission, the MFA may just be the new MDiv.


On View: Contemplation I by Jerome Lawrence. 24x36, acrylic on canvas. BFA, Georgia State University. Jerome Lawrence's solo exhibitions in Georgia include galleries such as Sabra Gallery, Ferst Center for the Arts at Georgia Tech, Chances Gallery, City Gallery East, VSA Arts for All Gallery, and others. His artwork is part of the documentary Shadow Voices & Building on Faith by Mennonite Media, and he has been interviewed by CNN news, WXIA-TV and WSB-TV in Atlanta, Georgia.

Jerome Lawrence's work was featured in Visual Preludes 2006, an exhibition of Episcopal Church & Visual Arts for the 75th General Convention of The Episcopal Church, Columbus, Ohio, 2006.

1 Masters of Fine Arts, Masters of Business Administration. Daniel Pink is the author of A Whole New Mind.
2 Masters of Divinity, the degree held by many ordained priests and ministers
3 Frank Burch Brown, Gesa Elsbeth Theissen, Theological Aesthetics, A Reader, 2004, Wm. Eerdmans, p. 268.

Moments of Personal Change

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Transforming Journey - Recapturing Moments of Personal Change

by Robert J. Epley

Meaningful personal changes are often unrecognized in the moment in which they occur and aren’t recognized as such until much later. The images in this series began as photographs made for my own personal satisfaction and were done over a considerable time span. It is only by looking back at them recently that the change moments (transformational) became recognizable to me. What I see now is that these images are markers of change moments spiritual in nature.

Some of the images are given what is for me a new meaning by the way the film image is interpreted. What I saw in the camera’s viewfinder felt right intuitively. That was reason enough for me to make the photograph. Traditional, straight forward prints don’t convey the sense of their meaning. The images have been reinterpreted to better represent what I feel happened in those moments.

Robert J. Epley is a photographer living and working in Nederland, Colorado. His work has received numerous awards and is included in the collection of the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center. His work can be seen in 'Portraits of the Self,' an exhibition of Episcopal Church and Visual Arts.

On View The Road Not Taken, by Robert J. Epley. Photograph.

Synchronicity A process of letting go

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Synchronicity

A process of letting go

Carl Jung defines synchronicity as “meaningful coincidences”. I chose this title because it suggests the process that I go through to come to a final piece. The process starts long before I ever enter the print studio, it started years ago in fact. Even as a little girl I cut pictures out of magazines, saved greeting cards and “precious” objects found on a beach or at a yard sale. Through my adult life I have continued this obsession. When I pick up things at a rummage sale or find photos and letters in a box in my parents’ attic, I don’t usually know what I’ll do with them. It’s not until later when I’m preparing to go to the print studio do things call out to be together. I’ll spread out all my treasures, of lace, feathers, stamps, old books and photographs and see what pops out. Things call to be together and a story begin to emerge. As the artist I combine the objects to suggest a storyline, make an outline but it is the viewer who makes the process complete. You come to the piece and complete the story, flesh out the meaning. There is a part of the collective unconscious at play here that makes these pieces sing. They are more than beautiful works of art. They are a secret whispered, a snippet of song long forgotten, an old joke that still makes you laugh, a line from a poem deeply loved.

On View: Bird and Feather, 15" x 22", Monoprint by Lisa Marie Thorpe, 2008. Lisa Marie Thorpe is artist-in-residence at The Bishops Ranch in Healdsburg, California and a member of the ECVA-San Francisco Chapter in the Diocese of California.

Deepening Worship through Art

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It is Finished, 23" x 16.5". collagraph, 2005, by Sandra Bowden.

How can the arts deepen our practice of Christian worship? In this podcast, Dr. John Witvliet gives direction to this question. Witvliet recommends that we think about the primary actions of worship - prayer, proclamation of scripture and celebration of the Lord's supper. Witvliet begins here with the key elements of worship, and expands into thinking about how different art forms can enhance and deepen each of those experiences.

Listen to the entire podcast, Episode 10 - Worship and the Arts - here>

Dr. John Witvliet is director of the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship (Grand Rapids, Michigan) and associate professor of music and worship at Calvin College and Calvin Theological Seminary. He is the author of The Biblical Psalms in Christian Worship and Worship Seeking Understanding. This interview was recorded at the Transforming Culture: A Vision for the Church and the Arts Symposium.


worshipodcast.com
is a podcast series designed to stimulate discussion about the stuff of Christian worship, including music, the arts, technology, and preaching.


Kevin Gibson
has been on the pastoral staff of First Baptist Church, North Kansas City, Missouri, since June 2002. Intrigued with podcasting when his wife Christy created a podcast for a master’s level class in July 2007, Kevin ventured into podcasting on his own.


Sandra Bowden
is a founding member of the board of Episcopal Church and Visual Arts. For over 30 years the signature element to Sandra Bowden's work has been the inclusion of a Hebrew text, compacted by eliminating spaces between words and line, carefully inscribed, but not intended to be read. The text can be the image itself or sometimes it is located in layers of strata beneath the surface of the earth. Visit her website here >

Congregations Creating Worship Visuals

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Art by Dennis Di Vincenzo. Text by Joan Huyser-Honig
As Catherine Kapikian and other Christian artists have discovered, understanding the visual arts process is key to creating church imagery that builds community and deepens worship.

Worshipers entering Tualatin Presbyterian Church on All Saints Sunday saw two sets of banners. Banners hung from the sanctuary ceiling were covered with “names of folks who have gone ahead of us—from people who established local adoption agencies to great historical leaders like Martin Luther and Mother Theresa,” says Ellen Van Schoiack, visual arts director for the Oregon congregation. Two plain banners were suspended on either side of the cross. As a prayer of thanksgiving, worshipers were invited forward to write names of people who had influenced their faith. “I was able to write the name of my mother. It was touching to look at the banner and see an old person’s handwriting next to a child’s scrawl,” Van Schoiack recalls. The newly-inscribed banners were raised by drop lines while the congregation sang “For all the saints who from their labors rest…” As Tualatin Presbyterian has discovered, art created by the congregation can profoundly affect worshipers—especially when leaders take time to understand the essential process of planning visuals for worship.


Start with Scripture

Van Schoiack says that art in her congregation “is intended to help set the tone of the service or guide the participants’ attention or response.” That’s why Tualatin Presbyterian’s pastor and music director work with the art team to plan visuals. “Rather than bring an artistic concept into the room with us, we start with a scripture. We go in to look at the passage, usually a lectionary reading, and see what flies out. Connecting artists with worship planning helps us focus on the community’s spiritual needs and avoid spiritual expressions that were our private expressions,” she says.

At Grace United Church in Sarnia, Ontario, “pods” gather to study Scripture, pray, and seek spiritual discernment before creating art for worship. The pods include people gifted in theology, worship planning, or art. Christine Jerrett, minister of spiritual direction, urges GraceWorks pod members to approach Bible passages asking “Who is this God who calls us to worship?” and “Who are we in relation to such a God?” Studying Scripture and creating art together helps pods experience themselves as “a people of God, alive with the energies of the Holy Spirit, joyfully living in and witnessing to the liberating victory of Jesus Christ to the glory of God the Father,” Jerrett says.

Be open to the Spirit’s leading
Beginning with the Bible leads to amazing visual insights from the Holy Spirit. “God has far more eclectic ideas than we do!” Jerrett notes. And, as Van Schoiack and her team have discovered, being open to inbreakings of the Holy Spirit sparks “fearless confidence and humble trust.” The Tualatin team thought the 2005 Advent lectionary readings had too much Lenten imagery, hardly the way to prepare people for Christ’s coming during Oregon’s endless dark winters. Identifying the lectionary theme of God’s abiding presence helped them choose new texts about biblical images of light.

They used strong but lightweight materials—drop line, strings of light, fabric, photo backdrop paper—to create and hang an Advent installation from the sanctuary’s highest space. “Till we hung it we had no idea how the fabric would shift and create patterns of light and shadow. No matter where you were, you were aware of this big looming thing, a reminder of God’s abiding presence and the goodness of light,” Van Schoiack says.

Include many perspectives
Trusting the Holy Spirit’s leading prevents art teams from making snap decisions.“Once you have a team, you have to trust the team and their process. Bad ideas usually go away on their own. But five or six ideas down the line, that bad idea will make someone think of an idea that works,” says Steve Caton, director of worship and the arts at Covenant Life Church in Grand Haven, Michigan. He advises creating teams that are as diverse as possible.

Stephanie Pals, a professional hair stylist, says, “I feel like the designated non-art person on Covenant Life’s design team. I think Steve asked me to join to make sure the art ideas are relatable. There’ve been meetings where I’ve said, ‘I’m not sure worshipers are going to get this.’ ” She estimates that about 40 percent of Covenant Life’s visual art is presented as an interactive worship option. At Christmas, people wrote prayers and hung them on the walls. Another time, worshipers could select a cup, scoop ashes into a garbage can, and then wash the cup to symbolize Christ’s offer to cleanse their lives. “Worshiping God is not just singing. Doing art is sometimes a more comfortable way to say, ‘I want more of him,’ ” Pals says.

At Cornerstone Christian Reformed Church in Ann Arbor, Michigan, all ages are learning the same faith vocabulary. Preschoolers through fourth graders draw pictures that get posted to the church’s devotions weblog on Vertical Habits. The youngsters worship while the adults have Bible study. During adult worship, the kids work on devotions and journals. Hee Lee, the children’s director, says it’s easier for most of them to express themselves in pictures than in full sentences. “I thought the habit of lament might be difficult for the kids. But they drew what they were going through, like waiting for an adopted sister. Their parents and friends look at their pictures online. And we refer to the art during the next week’s worship, like what does it mean to say ‘I love you, God’ and did you practice that habit of love,” she says.

Next Week: CATHERINE KAPIKIAN on helping churches transform worship spaces

On View: Pentecost by Dennis Di Vincenzo, 2008. Dennis is a graphic artist and member of The Artists Registry. Learn more about his work at www.dennisdivincenzo.com

This article was first published by the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, http://www.calvin.edu/worship/. Text by Joan Huyser-Honig, Photography by Steve Huyser-Honig. Used with permission.

Lighting to Unite: Lighting the Nation, Uniting the World

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Illumination of the Washington National Cathedral by Gerry Hofstetter
'Transforming Worship Spaces' Text by Joan Huyser-Honig

Transforming Worship Spaces
Congregations often create their own visual art for temporary uses, such as for a single service, sermon series, or liturgical season. Yet congregations can also handle large permanent projects—if they understand how art, artists, and church communities work together.

In her new book, Art in Service of the Sacred, Catherine Kapikian describes how creating visual art together helps churches build community and deepen worship. Kapikian teaches required visual arts courses to seminarians and directs The Henry Luce III Center for the Arts and Religion at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C.


Pinpoint the change you seek

When churches commission Kapikian, she worships with them, meditates in their worship space, and asks why they’ve called her. “I listen for the felt need internal to the community. What’s most important is finding out what they want to change,” she explains. Like many historic churches, Metropolitan Memorial United Methodist in Washington, D.C. had a dossal cloth (a.k.a. reredos) on the wall behind the altar. When removed for cleaning, the dusty brocaded velvet disintegrated. So the church’s felt need was to replace it. Other churches have asked Kapikian to help them refresh a sanctuary wall without removing a donated cross…to symbolize a new congregational purpose…to visually warm a stonewalled sanctuary…or to correct a spatial imbalance.

Identify leaders
Despite her artistic and teaching credentials, Kapikian never takes over. “Every congregation has informal leaders. There are always at least one or two people who understand dynamic process and know how to communicate through nonverbal means,” she says. Whether congregations choose projects that require drawing, needlework, carpentry, or technology skills, leaders emerge. Kapikian also looks for members who are good at organizing. “There’s always someone in church who knows a lot about the art required and decides to run the project. Thank God for that,” she says.

Educate to build momentum
Kapikian teaches church leaders—both pastors and art committee members—how to “read” their worship space. She describes the nuances of art product and art process. “Creating art in community is like an iceberg. The 75 percent you don’t see (the process) underlies the 25 percent you do see (the product),” she says. She waits to suggest design solutions until the congregation has given informed views on what’s important. When the congregation settles on the visual arts project, Kapikian designs—with their input—and encourages them to take over as much of the fabrication as possible. Churches often run classes on how to draw designs on canvas, sew, cut, build, or whatever. While embroidering panels to replace their 10-by-25-foot dossal cloth, Metropolitan Memorial sometimes cleared tables after the fellowship hour, spread out panels, and invited children to add stitches (under supervision). Meanwhile, some members prepared bulletin inserts to explain the symbols in the needlework while others built scaffolds and figured out the optimum panel widths for vertical hanging. “People go home and tell their family and friends. It starts a momentum. People far from church, spiritually, ask to help. The spiritual dimensions of the design take hold and some start attending worship,” she says. Completing a visual arts project often takes a few years—which also helps build community. Afterwards, people remember which panel or banner or cushion they worked on. The power of this experience explains why Kapikian also advises churches to eventually replace art. “Every generation or two needs to recreate its visual proclamation,” she says.

Integrate art into the worship space
Throughout any project, Kapikian helps people see how to do art in service of the sacred. “I as an artist do not feel that this space is an arena for my private projection. The art has to amplify, not compete with, what’s already in the sanctuary. And although the symbolic content is usually given forth in an abstract way, it’s still accessible and readable,” she says. When Abiding Presence Lutheran Church built a new sanctuary in Beltsville, Maryland, Kapikian helped them design kneeling cushions to line the communion rails. The cushions use the ideas of transparency—seeing one scene through another in the salvation story—and water. She says the design is not immediately apparent, but worshipers see how the design flows from watery chaos to flood, exodus, and beyond.

"As we kneel we see God's plan of salvation and his abiding presence with us. Embroidering the cushions was a labor of love. One of our members, a cartographer, counted every stitch he took. He said a standard rectangle took 176,000 stitches," says Pastor Art Hebbeler. Oddly enough, during hard storms, the roof leaks—but only next to the Noah's ark cushion. Rather than repair the rain-stained section of communion rail, Abiding Presence has decided to see the stains as another mark of God's presence, Hebbeler says. Its sanctuary placement of entrances, pulpit, and organ created visual imbalance at Westminster Presbyterian, a fast-growing church in Greensboro, North Carolina. They went with Kapikian’s suggestion to construct a wooden form, opposite the organ, that mimics organ pipes’ lines and silver paint. Each liturgical season people hang a different set of banners from the structure. “Westminster chose the ancient form of the circle to symbolize our engagement with the divine. So the Advent banners are about the inbreaking of God’s Spirit. Christmas shows the earthly and spiritual realms colliding in Christ’s birth,” Kapikian says.

The article 'Transforming Worship Spaces' was first published by the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship,
http://www.calvin.edu/worship/.

About the Images For three memorable nights in May, Swiss lighting artist Gerry Hofstetter brought his artistry to Washington National Cathedral for a spectacular exterior illumination of the south and west sides, in celebration of the Cathedral’s centennial. Numerous vivid images were projected directly on the Cathedral sunset to midnight on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, illustrating its mission of reconciliation, spotlighting its role as a spiritual beacon for the nation, and proclaiming hope for all humankind. Text and Images courtesy Washington National Cathedral. Learn more>

A Summer of Love and PIM

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Unless your full time job requires it, you may not be aware of the sequences of events that are propelling the current state of affairs for The Episcopal Church. And, like me, you may want to come up to speed for the coming summer of 2008. It will have its share of love and PIM (power, influence, and money).

Much has been said about who we are and who we are called to be.(1) Scores of dedicated people, among them lifelong volunteers and academically-honored clerics, are working tirelessly to influence the future of this great community we call The Episcopal Church. They need your love, your prayers, and your wise counsel.

For starters, I recommend that you download or borrow a copy of Garret Keizer's article in the June issue of Harper's Magazine. Try not to let the title of the article put you off, because 'Turning Away from Jesus - Gay rights and the war for the Episcopal Church' doesn't do justice to Keizer's well-researched, even-toned piece. All the while sounding refreshingly reasonable, Keizer touches on Anglican polity and provincial differences in Anglican belief and governance. He's not offering an opinion to his readers so much as he is selecting focus from a kaleidescope of observations.

Then I suggest a second reading selection, well two actually. Because if you and I are at all alike, you might wonder why any of this matters when church for us is about Sunday school and garden club and choir practice. I'll tell you why. Actually, I'll suggest that you let Jim Naughton tell you why. Jim is formerly of the New York Times and is now director of communications for the Episcopal Diocese of Washington D.C. While mild-mannered Episcopalians have been working for the Heifer Project, donating to ERD's disaster relief fund and running food pantry's from our parish halls, 'Millions of dollars contributed by a handful of donors have allowed a small network of theologically conservative individuals and organizations to mount a global campaign that has destabilized the Episcopal Church and may break up the Anglican Communion.' (2) Said another way, people outside of The Episcopal Church are trying to define what The Episcopal Church can, and cannot, be.

On View: We Are One, Painting by Delda Skinner. More of Delda's art is on view at her website, here>

(1 )In this church I have learned that I am undeniably human and irrevocably made in Love's image. In The Episcopal Church I have received forgiveness, undeserved, and I have learned to forgive. I have learned to tithe, to feed the poor and to support a house of worship; to study scripture, to read theology and to listen to the experiences of others. The Episcopal Church has taught me the value of tradition, and the essential application of reason when it comes to the discernment necessary to live a faithful life.
(2) Jim Naughton in "Following the Money", a Special Report from The Washington Window.


Portraits of the Self

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On View: Selections from Portraits of the Self - Members of The Artists Registry. Top: Looking for Emily, Paint and Ink on Wood, by Emily Herr, 2007; Left, Portrait of the Artist in New Hampshire, Oil in Wood, by Erin McGee Ferrell, 2007; Right, Nativity, Digital Painting, by Luis Coelho, 2007.

PORTRAITS OF THE SELF
The concept of self-portraiture opens up a wide array of contradictions.

From the introspective nature of self-conception, to the outward-looking nature of creating visual art, from revealing to concealing identity, self-portraiture is characterized by persistent contradiction. Honesty and deceit each play their part in facing the Self with its deep hidden truths, and in sharing these personal discoveries with others.

Displaying one’s Self to a viewing public presents risk and demands courage; and yet in the face of these fears the philosopher Hans-George Gadamer reminds us that self-presentation is the nature of play.

Identity is itself full of contradiction. The tension between body and spirit is no stranger to Christian dialogue. Identity is always constant and in flux. Self-discovery is a changing process, and carries its own elements of surprise and compromise. The struggle to find fitting symbols for human identity has always been problematic, and confirms that there is no perfect metaphor. But the challenge of symbolizing one’s own persona in visual art is at least as difficult a task. The artist who refers to linseed oil, threaded quilt, or stroboscopic pixels as a metaphoric extension of their personal identity introduces complexity, and further contradiction.

The artists in this exhibit present themselves within a wide range of interpretations. There are those interpretations that resemble the physical likeness of the artist, and we are quick to identify these as self-portraits. Others subordinate identity to the language of design, reminding us that a self-portrait is a glimpse of the Self injected into the world of visual dynamics, with all the peculiarities of the visual language and the limitations of a medium. Some of these symbols surprise us, and remind us just how private self-conception can be.

Even with our common humanity and faith, the many concepts we have of ourselves continue to be surprisingly diverse. The entries in this exhibit display the Self in various times, aspects, and situations. Many of these portraits deal with themes of pain, grief, fear, and irony that are a natural part of life, death, and growth. Together they embody the Christian message of faith and perseverance in the face of baffling contradiction––including that of the Self, which finds poetic expression through visual metaphor in this exhibit.

David C. Hancock, Curator
Portraits of the Self, Members of The Artists Registry
An Exhibition of Episcopal Church and Visual Arts

David C. Hancock is a contemporary painter whose work is grounded in the classical tradition and the study of the old masters. Hancock studied painting in Italy for three years before obtaining a diploma in painting from the Academy of Realist Art in Toronto and a B.A. in philosophy from Wheaton College.
Hancock’s work addresses themes of faith and philosophy from a contemporary perspective. As such, Hancock’s art is both challenging and educational; his paintings have been employed in schools, churches, and homes for meditation and the study, and have recently been adopted into the Jewish studies curriculum at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Hancock’s work has been exhibited and collected throughout the United States and Europe. His portrait clients include Jessica Simpson and Alaska Lieutenant Governor Loren Leman. Hancock was featured on the October 2006 cover of Art & Antiques, representing “Today’s Realism,” and was listed in “The Best Art of 2004” and “The Best Art of 2006” by The Artist’s Magazine.

In addition to painting, Hancock is an inspired teacher. He frequently conducts workshops for adults and underprivileged children, and remains active in academic scholarship. Hancock views art making and teaching as opportunities to share ideas and inspiration. He currently lives in Kansas City with his wife Cindy. Visit his website at www.DavidCHancock.com

Looking to the Past to Understand the Future

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Shortly after 2001, I visited an Iconography Exhibition at The Metropolitan Museum of Art and was struck by this description, “Icons were a source of comfort to a nation besieged.” I had been struggling with my work and pondered, “Is my art a source of comfort to anyone?”

This led me to explore a tradition/process of painting heretofore unknown to me, the world of iconography; a direct contrast to my Western European oriented training and individualistic leanings (which often led me more to the Vermeer side of the museum and, I might add, still do.) But to know who we are, especially in such times where misunderstanding is rampant between one side of the globe and the other, it is important to discover that which we do not know…

The two works above are both the outcome of such exploration. One looks back to the 6th century CE and the other speaks to the imagery of today and the future. The Sinai Christ Pantocrator , painted while on a workshop at Kanuga Camp Conferences in Fall 2008 with teacher Teresa Harrison, is created using acrylic pigments and gold-leaf. Like most icons, it is composed of a multitude of thin washes or layers of color one atop the other, and the outcome is a very flat, deliberately non-textured surface. Pale-Male: A Pilgrimage is painted using a digital palette of over 16 million colors which is then output not to a sanded board (like a traditional icon) but to an interconnected zone of ether that compresses thousands of layers into an ephemeral moment that can only be described as immaterial… the flattest of the flat. Going even further, this digital galaxy extends the parameters of the traditional icon, (which can be copied and shared in finite increments) to one that can be shared in the global sense… i.e, infinitely, or wherever anyone cares to plug-in.

There are many opportunities and challenges for artists to explore in today’s digital universe. Like the novelists and poets who shaped meaning from a democracy of words after the evolution of the Guttenberg Press, we find ourselves in an analogous world, however one where imagery is the new rising language. I would argue that the calling for today’s artist is to bring meaning and understanding to that world of visual information, loading our brush with media, intelligence and compassion. ~ by Roz Dimon

Roz Dimon is the Manager of Communications for St. Bart’s Episcopal Church in New York City. Visit her on the web here>

Liturgical Art and Community Identity

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The Artist and the Church
Liturgical glass, if it is to be successful, is faithful to both the vision of the local church and to the interpretive gifts of a specific artist. The process is collaborative, with artist and church sharing in the creation of a work intended to glorify God, support worship, and give voice to the church community’s unique character.

For the content of a large window illuminating a chapel adjacent to the primary worship space, St. Helen Catholic Church in Pearland, Texas had an unusual request. They asked their glass artist, Stephen A. Wilson, to create a visual meditation on the parish’s history and community identity. With regard to form, there was a requirement as well. The church specified a predominance of greens, which would complement the more traditional blues and reds desired for Eucharist and Resurrection-themed windows in the nave and narthex.

The Light and Beauty of God
Wilson approached the work in keeping with his fundamental philosophy: every window is to be a jewel—a shimmering screen of carefully handled color, transparency, and line that, even aside from the presence of iconography, will help the viewer experience the light and beauty of God. This is, after all, the underlying symbolism of all stained glass, that God is light. The specifics follow. Imagery is developed from scripture, tradition, and local culture and arranged to express layers of meaning edifying to the parish and complementary to the architectural context.

To address the parish’s history, Wilson requested architectural elevations of the four buildings the church had worshiped in during its 50 year existence. These he superimposed along a single vertical axis to illustrate the church’s upward and outward physical expansion. Then he aligned, along the same vertical axis, a tree—a pear tree—an image rich with universal and scriptural resonances, and at the same time the traditional emblem of Pearland’s agricultural, orchard community. The tree also provided, of course, an appropriate vehicle for the requested greens. Below the tree Wilson arranged seven pears, reminders both of the seven gifts of the Spirit (Isaiah 11:2-3) and the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). Modulations in the greens, yellows, and surrounding blues, purples, pinks, and ambers delineated architectural elements while providing the jewel-like splendor of the artist’s vision. The result was a visual meditation on the light of God entering the chapel and on the church’s spiritual growth, which has accompanied its numerical growth, and which will guide it into its future in this Texas community.

Serving God and God's Church
The creative process represents opportunity and risk for both church and artist. Can God and God’s church be well-served by such human and finite work? And in this case, how would this faith community respond to this unusual expression of its particular identity? Answers are not black and white. Yet the pride with which parishioners refer to the work and share it with visitors, the prominence of the window in the masthead of the church’s website, and the artist’s own enjoyment in exploring color and interpreting a theme unusual in liturgical art suggest that the collaboration was a success. ~ Cynthia Meyer

On View
Title: The Bride of Christ
Setting: Day Chapel, St. Helen Catholic Church, Pearland, Texas
Date: 2005
Designer: Stephen A. Wilson
Fabrication: Stephen Wilson Stained Glass of Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Materials: Mouth-blown European and domestic stained glass
Dimensions: The window is 16’ high and 18’ wide
Photography: Cynthia Meyer
Essay: Cynthia F. Meyer, MA PhD

A Visual Path through the Seasons

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A Visual Path through the Seasons
A Banner Year - Washington National Cathedral
Text by Carol Wade; art by Nancy Chinn
On View, left to right, Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent.

Each time we journey through the church year we are different. Over time the seasons transform us. As we pass through each day, each season, the end of one journey positions us to step into the beginning of the next. The seasons of this calendar allow us to return again and again to the expectancy of Advent or the solemnity of Lent, to reconsider our lives and the way in which we are living them.

The patterns of the church year allow us to see afresh the new things God is working in us and in our world. The sequence of the seasons organizes our journey, yet in some ways we live all the seasons at all times. We are always waiting in hope, always called to take our light into the world, always summoned to spend time in self-reflection. We are forever engaged in an act of new creation. We are repeatedly invited to celebrate the diversity of our gifts and to work on behalf of God’s reign.

Art is an Act of Bold Proclamation
In 2007, Washington National Cathedral commissioned a banner series of great beauty and power from renowned liturgical artist Nancy Chinn. Originally painted in acrylic, the banners have were digitally enlarged to four feet by twenty feet and installed for the Centennial year on successive pillars in the nave and transepts.

The cyclical nature of the seasons is depicted through the fundamental image of the circle. Repeating circular patterns are used in different ways to communicate different themes. The circle represents the work of the divine. It connotes birth and completion, the movement of the Spirit, the light of Christ, and the world opening up to the glory of God. - Carol Wade

Download the full-color booklet ‘A Banner Year’ in PDF format here >
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About the Author and Artist
The Rev. Canon Carol L Wade is Canon Precentor at the Washington National Cathedral. Canon Wade received her Master of Divinity and Master of Sacred Theology degrees from Yale Divinity School and the Yale Institute of Sacred Music and her Diploma in Anglican Studies from Berkeley Divinity School at Yale.

Nancy Chinn has created commissioned liturgical installations for Grace Cathedral and more than 500 other sites. Her art has been featured in national conferences, churches, cathedrals, and outdoor installations. Chinn holds a B.A. in Education from Lewis and Clark College; M.A. from San Francisco State College and M.F.A. in Fibers and Mixed Media from John F. Kennedy University, Orinda, CA. Visit her online at nancychinn.com

A Justice Colored Lens

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The Contemplative Prophetic Photography of a Priest in a Post Modern World
The Photography of Wilfredo Benitez-Rivera
More and more I am experiencing the power of a picture to thrust the viewer into a different state of mind, into the eternal, into the infinite and universal, into the archetypal and the mysterious. The real miracle in this is that it happens in a fraction of a second. A picture has the power to touch something within us, a feeling, a yearning, or an emotion that has no need of words and finds no comfort in explanations. Indeed a picture has the power to make us pause and take note of a deeper reality, a deeper truth, a deeper essence, a deeper mystery (partially revealed) of our journey in life. Moving beyond the sublime and transcendent, pictures also have the power to denounce social injustices, oppression, and inequalities; alas they can also have a chaotically prophetic dimension that harmonizes with all of the elements I mention above.

When taking pictures I now find myself hoping to capture that moment where time stands still, and we are thrust into the core of our deepest reality, which is an enduring quality, a form of truth that is mystical in its content and
grabs hold of the viewer, regardless of the photographic theme, why put limits on this?

Reverend Wilfredo Benitez-Rivera has been taking photographs for about 25 years. His pictures are an intimate part of who he is. For Benitez, photography has become a sort of spiritual companion and practice that started to work its magic some years ago back in the early 70's. However, it has only been in the last few years that it has really taken hold of him, demanding his attention. At age 16, in 1972 Wilfredo took a photography course at the old New York Institute of Photography. During the early 80’s he studied privately under the tutelage of Puerto Rican photographer, Nestor Cortijo. Since then he has been mostly self taught. His passion for photography has reawakened with a vengeance in the last five years. Photography has become for Wilfredo a means of seeing beyond seeing, a journey of revelation beyond the ordinary and the mundane, an exploration of the power of life in all its beautiful and chaotic manifestations.

About the Artist:
Wilfredo Benitez-Rivera is a frequent contributor the the Art Blog and the current rector of St. Anselm of Canterbury Episcopal (Anglican) Church, in Garden Grove, California. He is actively involved in interfaith peace and justice work. He writes, "When taking pictures I now find myself hoping to capture that moment where time stands still, and we are thrust into the core of our deepest reality, which is an enduring quality, a form of truth that is mystical in its content and grabs hold of the viewer, regardless of the photographic theme, why put limits on this? " See more of his work here.

Son of Kitson and John

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Son of Kitson and John
by C. Robin Janning

Father of Charleen and Shane and Rebecca; grandfather of Shelby, Julia, Allison, Shani, and William; brother of Lani; husband of Elizabeth, stepfather of Robin. “For what it's worth,” Scott says, “White People tend to introduce themselves by what they do. Native people introduce themselves traditionally by who they're related to. Being vs. Doing.”

Trying to get a statement from The Rev. Scott Fisher about who he is and what he does is like trying to grab a handful of fog. You are better served by looking at the people, places, and things around him. The emphasis, he says, must be on the Church, St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church in Fairbanks, Alaska. About his ministry he says: “It is not my ministry, it is His ministry” and “the only thing, aside from telling me to stay close, I’ve ever had a sense of God telling me is tell them I love them. I’ve never had a sense of anything else.”

He says that he came to Alaska as a lay volunteer in the Fall of 1970, “living in Chalkyitsik, Stevens Village, Beaver. Small (50-75 folk) Athabascan communities in the Northern Interior.” There follows an interesting chronology, which includes marriage, Seminary in Austin (“a GIANT cross-cultural collision, but we return to Alaska [Beaver] in the Summers”), graduation from Seminary, children, a return to rural Alaska, time as an assistant to the Bishop in Fairbanks (“I spent 80% of my time flying in to the Interior and Arrtic Coast villages—teaching, training, and pastoral care”), and then in 1991 he is called to St. Matthews. About being called to be the Rector of St. Matthew’s he says “I have been here since 1991, and I keep remembering That Voice saying “Stay close to me and I’ll stay close to you.” Nothing Scott says about the life and work he engages strays far from that sense, that understanding, that God stays close.

St. Matthews is anchored in the people, land, and traditions of Alaska—yet, reaching out and up, in the ultimate symbol of the Christ Life, holding the traditions of The Episcopal Church. The truest and most accessible image of St. Matthew’s and its Rector appears when reading the newsletters. In particular, the “Winter Voices” which not only testifies to his guardianship and watchfulness, but also shows the interrelatedness of people and land in a way that makes you understand the concept of "One.”

The April/May 2008 issue of St. Matthew’s newsletter begins: “Finally the ice is running now; these Northern rivers emptying themselves. The parade of Winter and its memories sweep by, fragmented with the ice. There goes early November on that piece; and the dark one there carries dark Advent. Across, that clean snowy white one must be part of Christmas; and that little one barely there carries that one day in February. Past us; past us; past us go the Winter and its memories. Good bye and thank you and don’t hurry back, please.”

Whatever else you were doing, or thinking, now you settle down to see, to listen, and to remember. When Scott talks about the newsletter he says: “And Maggie Castellinni's role on the Newsletter needs to be noted. She's the Editor. All I do is gather and type. She puts it in readable format, while managing two lively boys and a career/calling as a Marine Biologist. Well, and her husband too.”

“Voices” in the newsletter testifies to the river in all of us, a running leaping, joyful, and tearful catch of moments and whispers, emotions and prayers. It can’t be contained here, it is too long, too wild. But go to the newsletter and read it, you will breathe in its icy reality and some river in you will loose and also run wildly.

Scott’s photographs have appeared at Episcopal Café in the past. Photographs taken by him to document places and moments of Spirit. But these photographs were not taken by him. As he says: “I didn't take any of the Eagle Summit photographs. I'm too busy to take photos then. They were taken by our Sexton, who also does the fancy photo computer stuff on the web site, Tree Michael Nelson.”

Who is The Rev. Scott Fisher? A friend writes this:
“As to Scott, it's unimaginable that he and Alaska would not be part of each other. The influence has been mutual. He listens profoundly, says little. This is the first rule for surviving up here. But it's more than that. Scott is the most non-violent person I have ever met, which does not mean he is a pushover. Far from it. He is non judgmental, and his vision of leadership is kenotic. Scott is also inclusive; like early Semitic Christians, no questions are asked; everyone is welcome. He has an amazing improvisational gift, and if you read the newsletters, especially "Voices", you can understand how valuable this is. For Scott there is no distinction between sacred and secular; he is one of the most unified people I’ve ever met.”

Another friend writes simply “I am still stunned to think that I know a friend like this.”

Who am I? asks The Rev. Scott Fisher? “I am someone who has said Compline at Midnight, 7 nights a week, for nearly 30 years. Compline always includes The Song of Simeon, for these eyes of mine have seen...”.

“To pray it at the conclusion of the day is to ask the question: so when did I , like Simeon, see Christ today; where were the Moments of Beauty and Grace. Hence going through the day requires some attentiveness to watching for the moments of Beauty and Grace. This connects with traditional (as far as I can tell) Interior (at least) Alaska Native worldview. Here in the Interior, I think, Life is viewed primarily as GOOD. God is seen as good (as opposed to scary or judgmental). He gives us fish in the Summer, moose in the Fall, geese in the Spring, etc. Life is seen as good, as Gift, from the Creator of us all.”

It is an often-used editorial device to posit that one is the heart of a movement or a place. But The Rev. Scott Fisher is not the heart of St. Matthews. He is the Shepherd of the hearts and that makes St. Matthew’s a place where we would all like to be. In Scott’s sense of sacramental, that place is close to God—and we are all there already. Always.

On View: Midnight Eucharist. The Rev. Scott Fisher, celebrating Eucharist at midnight at Eagle Summit in Alaska.

Author C. Robin Janning serves as Director of Communication for ECVA. An artist and photographer, you can see her work at
www.gramercygalleria.com and www.gramercydigitaldiary.blogspot.com.

Hat tip to Ann Fontaine, http://seashellseller.blogspot.com

Fernando Gallego and His Workshop

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RELIGIOUS UTTERANCES - art of faith introduces the reader to humanities' historic relationship between art and faith. This daily series of articles examines the interlacing of art and faith from across the Anglican Communion. The title of the series, Religious Utterances, comes from systematic theologian Dr. Cecilia Gonzalez-Andrieu, whose work seeks "a recovery of humanities' religious utterances through art."
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RELIGIOUS UTTERANCES - art of faith
One in a series: Fernando Gallego and His Workshop
Theme: Restoration

DALLAS (SMU) – For the first time in the United States, researchers have undertaken an extensive study of a 15th-century Spanish cathedral altarpiece, and in the process, have unlocked 500 years of secrets involving art, literature, history and religion. Their findings, along with the entire group of stunning, historically significant paintings that comprise the altarpiece, will soon be on view in a special exhibition at the Meadows Museum at Southern Methodist University.

Fernando Gallego and His Workshop: The Altarpiece from Ciudad Rodrigo, Paintings from the Collection of the University of Arizona Museum of Art, which will be on display from March 30 to July 27, 2008, focuses on 26 surviving panels from the main altarpiece for the cathedral of Ciudad Rodrigo in Castile, Spain, created between 1480 and 1500.

The research findings, which include scans and X-rays of the paintings’ underdrawings, will be on exhibit along with the panels, which have survived earthquakes, war, neglect, sale and re-sale before reaching the Meadows Museum.

The panels, in oil and tempera, are considered one of the most important groups of artworks produced in late 15th-century Spain. They depict major events from Genesis, the life of Christ, and the Last Judgment, and are remarkable for their size (some nearly five feet tall and three and a half feet wide), number and sheer beauty. They rank among the most ambitious works by two of Spain’s most gifted painters of the period: Fernando Gallego and the hitherto virtually unknown Master Bartolomé. Such "master painters" often commanded large and dynamic workshops with apprentice artists, working together to undertake monumental commissions like the Ciudad Rodrigo altarpiece.

The panels have undergone two years of research and technical analysis at the Kimbell Art Museum under the direction of chief conservator Claire Barry – including infrared reflectography, ultraviolet light and x-rays – prior to their exhibition at the Meadows. Methods such as infrared have only become available in the past 25 years or so, and their application to the art field has vastly improved processes to obtain images of underdrawings.

Scholars have discovered, under the painted layer, initial drawings by the artists that don’t always match the final paintings, revealing how the artists changed their ideas as they worked. Also discovered on the panels have been handwritten notes indicating color choices. Differences between the techniques and styles of Gallego and Bartolomé have been revealed, allowing scholars to identify for the first time which works were created by which artist’s workshop. In the process, Bartolomé has been shown to be not simply a follower of Gallego but a master painter in his own right, one who could be ranked among the top Spanish artists of the period.

Such findings are significant for providing a glimpse into the inner workings of the artists’ workshops of five centuries ago, for little or no documentation from the time exists. (It was not until 1503 that methods for permanent and systematic archiving of documents were first officially established in that region.) The research results will be published in a fully illustrated 360-page exhibition catalogue, including information on the life and work of Gallego and Bartolomé, their individualized techniques, workshop practices, and historical context within the cosmopolitan communities of late 15th-century Castile.

The project represents an innovative international collaboration among scholars at the Meadows Museum in Dallas, the Kimbell Art Museum, the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles, and the Prado Museum in Madrid. In addition, the Kimbell’s conservation studio collaborated with The Art Institute of Chicago and the Getty Conservation Institute to carry out pigment and medium analysis. In another unique collaboration, Dallas’s Museum of Nature & Science also will be taking part in the Gallego exhibition by hosting a display on the science of art at the Meadows, while simultaneously holding an exhibition at their own museum on the art of science.

"In this project, we’ve combined both art and technology in the service of scholarly research to help unravel a 500-year-old mystery," said Dr. Mark Roglán, director of the Meadows Museum. "For the first time in the history of these paintings, we are able to reveal their underdrawings, and glimpse how the artists worked and their creative process. In addition to the catalogue, we will produce a lecture series and international scholarly symposium to help showcase these findings to the public." (Watch a companion video here>)

The history of the panels’ survival over the centuries is worthy of a novel itself. They overcame neglect, earthquakes, war – one of the panels still bears a hole from cannon fire by Wellington’s troops when they stormed Ciudad Rodrigo in 1812! – sale and re-sale, and a trans-Atlantic ocean voyage, and then underwent years of restoration in a bunker during the Cold War, before their arrival in Tucson, Arizona in the 1950s. "The fact that they survived for 500 years as a group and in such excellent condition makes them all the more extraordinary," said Dr. Roglán.

The panels are part of the Samuel H. Kress Collection and were given to the University of Arizona Museum of Art in Tucson in 1957. Their exhibition at the Meadows Museum marks the first time they have been displayed outside of Tucson in the 50 years since, and is made possible by a generous gift from The Meadows Foundation, with additional support for the study and publication from the Samuel H. Kress Foundation in New York.
© Southern Methodist University, Dallas TX 75205, 214-768-2000. Used with permission.

On View: Christ and the Samaritan Woman, 1480-88. Oil and tempera on panel. Photography by Robert Laprelle © Kimbell Conservation department

Imagining Christ

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RELIGIOUS UTTERANCES - art of faith introduces the reader to humanities' historic relationship between art and faith. This daily series of articles examines the interlacing of art and faith from across the Anglican Communion. The title of the series, Religious Utterances, comes from systematic theologian Dr. Cecilia Gonzalez-Andrieu, whose work seeks "a recovery of humanities' religious utterances through art."
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RELIGIOUS UTTERANCES - art of faith
Two in a series:Imagining Christ
May 6 - July 27, 2008 at the Getty Center, Los Angeles
Theme: Formation

From the exhibition's website:
"This exhibition features images of Christ in illuminated manuscripts of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. The images show the multiple ways in which Christ was understood: as the son of God and as God, as human and divine, as the sacrifice made for mankind, and as the divine judge who would save or condemn humanity at the end of time.

"The images in the exhibition, primarily from western European manuscripts, demonstrate how medieval and Renaissance faithful sought to participate in Christ's suffering and salvation through art and prayer."

The exhibition has three parts: Invoking Christ in Word and Ritual, Demonstrating Christ's Divinity, and Experiencing Christ's humanity. Visitors to this interactive web feature can view close-ups of several illuminated manuscript pages. They can also listen to audio that addresses the importance of images of Christ's wounds in medieval religious devotion, the miraculous mass of St Gregory and the making of a gold and silver plated copper statue of Christ in Majesty.

Imagining Christ is curated by Kristen Collins, associate curator in the Department of Manuscripts at the J. Paul Getty Museum.

On View: Transfiguratio Domini (The Transfiguration of Christ), by Fra Angelico. 1387 or 1395. In the collection of the Museo San Marco, Florence, Italy. Image source: The Yorck Project. The work of art depicted in this image and the reproduction thereof are in the public domain worldwide. The reproduction is part of a collection of reproductions compiled by The Yorck Project. The compilation copyright is held by Zenodot Verlagsgesellschaft mbH and licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.

African Christianity in Ethiopia

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RELIGIOUS UTTERANCES - art of faith introduces the reader to humanities' historic relationship between art and faith. This daily series of articles examines the interlacing of art and faith from across the Anglican Communion. The title of the series, Religious Utterances, comes from systematic theologian Dr. Cecilia Gonzalez-Andrieu, whose work seeks "a recovery of humanity's religious utterances through art."
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RELIGIOUS UTTERANCES - art of faith
Three in a series: African Christianity in Ethiopia
by Emma George Ross, Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY, NY
Theme: Objects of Devotion

NEW YORK - The adoption of Christianity in Ethiopia dates to the fourth-century reign of the Aksumite emperor Ezana. Aksum's geographic location, at the southernmost edge of the Hellenized Near East, was critical to its conversion and development. The kingdom was located along major international trade routes through the Red Sea between India and the Roman empire. The story of Ezana's conversion has been reconstructed from several existing documents, the ecclesiastical histories of Rufinus and Socrates Scholasticus. Both recount how Frumentius, a youth from Tyre, was shipwrecked and sent to the court of Aksum. Frumentius sought out Christian Roman merchants, was converted, and later became the first bishop of Aksum. At the very least, this story suggests that Christianity was brought to Aksum via merchants. Ezana's decision to adopt Christianity was most likely influenced by his desire to solidify his trading relationship with the Roman empire. Christianity afforded the possibility of unifying the many diverse ethnic and linguistic peoples of the Aksumite kingdom, a goal of Ezana's leadership. Aksum was one of the earliest states to develop a coin system in order to service its sophisticated and prosperous economy. Emperor Ezana was the first world leader to put the cross on coins that are the earliest examples of Christian material culture from Ethiopia.

Remains of distinctive Aksumite church architecture have been located in Aksum, Matara, and Adulis. These are oriented basilicas with stepped podia, which are accessed by a monumental set of stairs. These churches include an apse with lateral square chambers, introduced into the design of basilicas along the south coast of Asia Minor, Syria, and Palestine by the fifth century. The construction of churches is believed to have served the religious needs of the new administrative and military officials settling in expanded territories. The growth of the Aksumite state ended after the Persian conquest of South Arabia, which displaced the trade routes of the Red Sea.

While earlier Aksumite churches were circular, later constructions deliberately attempted to mimic those of the description of King Solomon's temple in the Old Testament. The churches built in Gondar have a square sanctuary with two aisles running along the periphery. The interiors are entirely covered in both murals and paintings that were commissioned by the wealthy elite in order to assist in their ascension to heaven. This was a period of intense artistic production, including, in particular, considerable quantities of icons devoted to the Virgin Mary. ~ Emma George Ross, Department of Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas, The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Text: Ross, Emma George. "African Christianity in Ethiopia". In Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/acet/hd_acet.htm (October 2002)

On View: "Pendant Icon [Ethiopia; Amharic] (1997.81.1)". In Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/ho/09/sfe/ho_1997.81.1.htm (October 2006)

Christian Martyrs of Nagasaki

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RELIGIOUS UTTERANCES - art of faith introduces the reader to humanity's historic relationship between art and faith. This daily series of articles examines the interlacing of art and faith from across the Anglican Communion. The title of the series, Religious Utterances, comes from systematic theologian Dr. Cecilia Gonzalez-Andrieu, whose work seeks "a recovery of humanity's religious utterances through art."
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RELIGIOUS UTTERANCES - art of faith
Four in a series: Christian Martyrs of Nagasaki
Theme: Remembrance

This painting depicts the events surrounding the martyrdom of a group of Christians who were executed by crucifixion on February 5, 1597 at Nagasaki, known as the Twenty-six Martyrs of Japan (日本二十六聖人, Nihon Nijūroku Seijin).

On February 5, 1597, twenty-six Christians – six European Franciscan missionaries, three Japanese Jesuits and seventeen Japanese laymen including three young boys – were executed by crucifixion in Nagasaki. These individuals were raised on crosses and then pierced through with spears.

Nippon Sei Ko Kai, a member of the Anglican Communion, added the martyrs to their calendar in 1959 to commemorate all the martyrs of Japan. The Episcopal Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America added the commemoration to their calendars during the revision of their respective prayer books in late 1970’s. Some parts of the Anglican Communion and the ELCA commemorate the martyrs of Japan on February 5 and the Roman Catholic Church and the Church of England commemorate them on February 6.

Text: Wikipedia

On View:
Christian Martyrs Of Nagasaki, date and artist unknown.

Mexican Muralists of the 20th Century

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RELIGIOUS UTTERANCES - art of faith introduces the reader to humanity's historic relationship between art and faith. This daily series of articles examines the interlacing of art and faith from across the Anglican Communion. The title of the series, Religious Utterances, comes from systematic theologian Dr. Cecilia Gonzalez-Andrieu, whose work seeks "a recovery of humanity's religious utterances through art."
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RELIGIOUS UTTERANCES - art of faith
Five in a series: A Mexican Muralist in East LA
Theme: Social Commentary

David Alfaro Siqueiros, one of the great Mexican muralists of the 20th century, painted América Tropical in 1932 on the second story exterior south wall of a large brick building known as the Italian Hall—one of the structures that today make up the El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument in downtown Los Angeles. (Source: Getty Research Institute)

Siqueiros' murals showed strong sympathy for Mexican workers through his use of symbol, scale and setting. Many of Siqueiros’s murals reflect his political views as a member of Mexico’s Communist Party. The vivid colors, contorted figures, and sculpted surfaces of his murals help convey the artist’s urgent desire for political change. (Source: Encarta) Within a few months of the mural's unveiling in 1932, it was partially painted over with white paint. By 1952 the Siqueiros mural América Tropical and the controversy it sparked was completely whitewashed.

In 2002, the City of Los Angeles began working closely with the J Paul Getty Trust to restore and conserve the mural in its original location in East Los Angeles. Images of the restoration project can be seen here on the GRI website. At a press conference unveiling the restored mural in 2006 Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa remarked: "The people of the city of Los Angeles will finally be able to view this cultural treasure long obscured from sight. The mural, while controversial in its time, will allow adults and children of all ages to learn about and appreciate the diverse history of this city, the importance of freedom of artistic expression and the origins of the muralist movement in this city." The Mayor added, "While people can agree or disagree with the message, what’s important is that it was art, and art, while sometimes controversial, is important - because what it does is to lift the soul." (Source: Mark Vallen)


On View: América Tropical, mural by David Alfaro Siqueiros. 1932. Original mural size: ~80'w x 18'h.

Rembrandt's Late Religious Portraits

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RELIGIOUS UTTERANCES - art of faith introduces the reader to humanity's historic relationship between art and faith. This daily series of articles examines the interlacing of art and faith from across the Anglican Communion. The title of the series, Religious Utterances, comes from systematic theologian Dr. Cecilia Gonzalez-Andrieu, whose work seeks "a recovery of humanity's religious utterances through art."
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RELIGIOUS UTTERANCES - art of faith
Six in a series: Rembrandt's Late Religious Portraits
National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
Visit the Exhibition Online
Theme: Reconciliation

Late in his career, the Dutch painter Rembrandt van Rijn painted a series of portraits with references to religious subjects. Art historians have been at a loss to explain why this artist, living in the Protestant country of Holland in the late 17th century, would choose to create life-size portraits of apostles, saints and other Biblical figures. Some have argued that at the time Rembrandt was painting these richly animated portraits, he was under personal stress. As a series, then, these paintings may be a most intimate record of this great artist's personal struggles.

During Spring 2005, the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC brought together for the first time 17 of Rembrandt's late religious portraits. The collection is viewable through an extensive online resource at the NGA website. Additional resources, including an in-depth study of Rembrandt's Abraham Entertaining the Angels, are available here at the National Gallery of Art website.

On View: Return of the Prodigal Son, Rembrandt van Rijn, c. 1666, 206 x 205 c. In the collection of The Hermitage, St. Petersburg, Russia. Image source: rembrandtpainting.net

O Christo Redentor

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RELIGIOUS UTTERANCES - art of faith introduces the reader to humanity's historic relationship between art and faith. This daily series of articles examines the interlacing of art and faith from across the Anglican Communion. The title of the series, Religious Utterances, comes from systematic theologian Dr. Cecilia Gonzalez-Andrieu, whose work seeks "a recovery of humanity's religious utterances through art."
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RELIGIOUS UTTERANCES - art of faith
Seven in a series:
O Christo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer)
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, at the peak of Corcovado Mountain in the Tijuca Forest
Theme: Landmark

O Christo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer) is a large art deco-style statue, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It stands 38 meters high, a figurative representation of Christ in an upright posture with arms outstretched. The statue is located at the summit of Corcovado mountain in Tijuca Forest National Park standing at 710 meters and looking over the city.

In Portugese, this iconic monument is known as Cristo Redentor. The original design of the Christ the Redeemer statue was born by a man named Oswald. He designed it to have a globe in one hand and stand over a pedestal symbolizing the world but the design was not agreed upon. Another proposal for a monument was prepared and made in 1921 by the archdiocese of Rio de Janeiro, an event named Seman de Monumento ("Monument Week") in hopes of attracting donations, which were attained mainly by Brazilian Catholics who readily awaited a design decision for an effigy.

Christ the Redeemer was designed by a French sculptor by the name of Paul Landowski and a local engineer named Heitor da Silva Costa was chosen to supervise the entire construction. The statue was built not out of steel but from reinforced concrete as that was considered a more suitable material for the cross-shaped statue. The outer layers of the landmark were constructed from a mosaic of soapstone because of the materials' known resistance to extreme weather and also due to its malleability. The Corcovado Railway was the only way to haul the large pieces of the statue to the crown of the mountain and thus was used as an important aide in the project.

Christ the Redeemer was built between 1926 and 1931 and after some time there was also a chapel built at the base of the mountain to house 150 visitors. The monument was inaugurated on October 12, 1931 in an extravagant and grand commemoration. [Source: destination360.com]

On View: Cristo Redentor, statue on Corcovado mountain in Rio de Janeiro, by Sean Vivek Crasto. Source: Wikicommons.

Armenian Khatchkar from the Lori Region

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RELIGIOUS UTTERANCES - art of faith introduces the reader to humanity's historic relationship between art and faith. This daily series of articles examines the interlacing of art and faith from across the Anglican Communion. The title of the series, Religious Utterances, comes from systematic theologian Dr. Cecilia Gonzalez-Andrieu, whose work seeks "a recovery of humanity's religious utterances through art."
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RELIGIOUS UTTERANCES - art of faith
Eight in a series:
Armenian Khatchkar from the Lori Region
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Theme: Commemoration

"This Khatchkar is an exceptional example of the importance of the Gospels to the Armenian people," said Helen C. Evans, the Mary and Michael Jaharis Curator of Byzantine Art at the Metropolitan, "in that it depicts of the cross of salvation rising from the symbols of the four evangelists who wrote the Gospels – the angel of Matthew, the lion of Mark, the ox of Luke, and the eagle of John. We are extremely grateful to the many members of the Armenian community, both in Armenia and here in the U.S., who made possible this loan, which represents the great medieval artistic tradition of the Armenian people."

The Armenians, who recognized Christianity as their state religion at the beginning of the fourth century, have long maintained an independent Christian tradition. Located on the eastern border of Byzantium during medieval times, they frequently installed imposing Khatchkars as memorials to the dead and to mark local events of significance.

Text: Copyright © 2000-2008 The Metropolitan Museum of Art.


Additional resources: here

On View:
Armenian Khatchkar (Christian Cross), from the Lori region, 1100-1200. Photographed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art by http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:PHG

The Gates of Paradise

http://www.artic.edu/aic/exhibitions/ghiberti/index.html

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RELIGIOUS UTTERANCES - art of faith introduces the reader to humanity's historic relationship between art and faith. This daily series of articles examines the interlacing of art and faith from across the Anglican Communion. The title of the series, Religious Utterances, comes from systematic theologian Dr. Cecilia Gonzalez-Andrieu, whose work seeks "a recovery of humanity's religious utterances through art."
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RELIGIOUS UTTERANCES - art of faith
Nine in a series:
The Gates of Paradise: Lorenzo Ghiberti's Renaissance Masterpiece
The Art Institute of Chicago
Visit the Exhibition Online
Theme: Narrative

The Gates of Paradise consist of ten panels—one column of five panels to each side of the seventeen-foot-high double doors. From the story of Adam and Eve at the top left to Solomon at the bottom right, each panel represents a succession of events. Often the same characters appear two or three times. The scheme allows Ghiberti to make each panel an entire narrative. (Source: John Haber, haberarts.com)

The panels illustrate Old Testament stories, whose characters include Adam and Eve, Jacob and Esau, and David and Goliath. In order to produce this immensely complex work, the artist applied his knowledge of sculpture and form to the task of capturing essential elements in each of the 10 stories.

Ghilberti's workshop trained many artists, including Donatello and Masolino. Apprentices were trained in all aspects of arts production, including the technique that Ghiberti re-invented, lost-wax casting.

On View: A panel of Adam and Eve in Ghiberti's "Gate's of Paradise". Photo by Thermos. Source: Wikicommons.

Maori Christ Crowned with Thorns

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RELIGIOUS UTTERANCES - art of faith introduces the reader to humanity's historic relationship between art and faith. This daily series of articles examines the interlacing of art and faith from across the Anglican Communion. The title of the series, Religious Utterances, comes from systematic theologian Dr. Cecilia Gonzalez-Andrieu, whose work seeks "a recovery of humanity's religious utterances through art."
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RELIGIOUS UTTERANCES - art of faith
Tenth in a series:
Maori Carving of the Head of Christ
St Joseph's Catholic Church
Jerusalem on the Whanganui River, New Zealand
Theme: Tradition

Altar Frontispiece Featuring Maori Carving of Christ Crowned with Thorns

This carving of the head of Christ is the center piece of the altar frontispiece in St. Joseph's Church at Jerusalem on the Whanganui River in New Zealand. Christ is represented in traditional Maori fashion with face tattoos (ta moko) and a crown of thorns. Paua (abalone) shell is used to decorate the carving.

Source: John Corney

On View:
Altar frontispiece , St Joseph's Church, Jerusalem. John Corney, photographer.

Gothic Revival in English Architecture

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RELIGIOUS UTTERANCES - art of faith introduces the reader to humanity's historic relationship between art and faith. This daily series of articles examines the interlacing of art and faith from across the Anglican Communion. The title of the series, Religious Utterances, comes from systematic theologian Dr. Cecilia Gonzalez-Andrieu, whose work seeks "a recovery of humanity's religious utterances through art."
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RELIGIOUS UTTERANCES - art of faith
Eleventh in a series:
Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin - Gothic Revival in English Architecture
Theme: Architecture

Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin (1 March 1812 – 14 September 1852) was an English architect, designer, and theorist of design, now best remembered for his work on churches and on the Houses of Parliament.

He was the son of a French draughtsman, Augustus Charles Pugin, who trained him to draw Gothic buildings for use as illustrations in his books, and his wife Catherine Welby. This was the key to his work as a leader of the Gothic revival movement in architecture. Between 1821 and 1838 Pugin and his father published a series of volumes of architectural drawings, the first two entitled, Specimens of Gothic Architecture, and the following three, Examples of Gothic Architecture, that were to remain both in print and the standard references for Gothic architecture for at least the next century.

Pugin became an advocate of Gothic architecture, which he believed to be the true Christian form of architecture. He attacked the influence of "pagan" Classical architecture in his book Contrasts, in which he set up medieval society as an ideal, in contrast to modern secular culture. A fine example of his work in this regard is the church of St Giles in Cheadle, Staffordshire.

After the burning of the Palace of Westminster in 1834, Pugin was employed by Sir Charles Barry to work on the new Parliament buildings in London. He converted to Catholicism, but also designed and refurbished Anglican as well as Catholic churches throughout the country and abroad. His views, as expressed in works such as True Principles of Christian Architecture (1841) were highly influential.

Other works include the interior of St Chad's Cathedral, Erdington Abbey, and Oscott College, all in Birmingham. He also designed the college buildings of St Patrick and St Mary in St. Patrick's College, Maynooth; though not the college chapel. His original plans included both a chapel and an aula maxima, neither of which were built due to financial constraints. The college chapel was designed by a follower of Pugin, the Irish architect J.J.McCarthy. Pugin also designed St. Mary's Cathedral in Killarney. He revised the plans for St. Michael's Church in Ballinasloe, Galway.

Source: en.wikipedia.org

On View: Palace of Westminster - Westminster Hall from the south, Westminster - London - England. Photo taken by Tagishsimon

Ignatius' Illustrator

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RELIGIOUS UTTERANCES - art of faith introduces the reader to humanity's historic relationship between art and faith. This daily series of articles examines the interlacing of art and faith from across the Anglican Communion. The title of the series, Religious Utterances, comes from systematic theologian Dr. Cecilia Gonzalez-Andrieu, whose work seeks "a recovery of humanity's religious utterances through art."
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RELIGIOUS UTTERANCES - art of faith
Twelve in a series:
Ignatius' Illustrator
Theme: Illustration

Jerome Nadal (1507-1580), a Spaniard from Majorca, was one of the first ten members of the Society of Jesus (a.k.a. the Jesuits). For many years he served as the personal representative or "delegate" of the founder, St. Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556), in visiting Jesuit houses throughout Europe, especially to explain and implement the Constitutions of the Society of Jesus.

Ignatius himself urged Nadal to compile and distribute an illustrated guide for prayerful meditation on the Gospels, in the tradition of the Spiritual Exercises, although the work was not completed until after both men had died. Nadal selected the biblical scenes to be included, commissioned and directed the layout of the illustrations, and composed notes to accompany each scene. With the cooperation and support of Antwerp publishers Christophe Plantin and Martinus Nutius, 153 engravings were eventually produced by Bernardino Passeri, Marten de Vos, and Jerome and Anton Wierix.

Source
: Felix Just, S.J., Ph.D.
On View: "A paralytic is healed", etching by Jerome Nadal , S. J. (1507-1580)

Leonardo for a Laptop Generation

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RELIGIOUS UTTERANCES - art of faith introduces the reader to humanity's historic relationship between art and faith. This daily series of articles examines the interlacing of art and faith from across the Anglican Communion. The title of the series, Religious Utterances, comes from systematic theologian Dr. Cecilia Gonzalez-Andrieu, whose work seeks "a recovery of humanity's religious utterances through art."
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RELIGIOUS UTTERANCES - art of faith
Thirteen in a series
Leonardo for a Laptop Generation
Theme: Re-examination

Peter Greenaway and Leonardo DaVinci's Last Supper
"On the occasion of Saloni 2008, Peter Greenaway gives new life to the world’s most celebrated masterpiece "The Last Supper" by Leonardo Da Vinci, merging an extraordinary wealth of languages including visual arts, cinema, poetry, music and some of the most cutting-edge new technologies.

"Leonardo’s masterpiece "The Last Supper" has survived both the fast natural aging process caused by experimental painting techniques conceived by the artist and the many attempts to restore its initial aspect, as well as having outlasted bombings during World War II. The Biblical scene will come to new life under the spectator’s eyes thanks to live projections of images and light bouncing on the very painted surface, accompanied by a soundscape of voices, music and noises. The performance will take place in the Refectory of the Dominican Friary in Santa Maria delle Grazie Church: on the very wall of the refectory, Leonardo portrayed the moment when Christ announces one of the apostle will betray him, causing disruption and dismay among them."

A video is available here at the Guardian Daily website.

You can visit the installation until September 7, 2008, at Santa Maria delle Grazie Church in Milan, Italy. The audience takes turns in groups of twenty-five people at a time, because of the fragile conditions of the painting. The event will loop many times during the evening, outside the normal opening hours.

To offer the same experience to a wider audience, thanks to a groundbreaking combination of sophisticated technology and craftsmanship, a perfect copy of the painting will be realized, a “clone” of the same size and scale, featuring the same exact characteristics and surface texture of the original, which will be on show in the Sala delle Cariatidi in Palazzo Reale during the week of Saloni. The project makes use of the most cutting-edge technologies ever applied to Leonardo’s fresco, thanks to an international team of collaborators coordinated by Change Performing Arts.

Source: Peter Greenaway

On View: Atmosphere - Peter Greenaway and Change Performing Arts Presents a Multimedia Event Based on Leonardo Da Vinci's Painting "The Last Supper" at Saloni 2008 in Milan - Saloni 2008 - Milan, Italy © Insidefoto / PR Photos. See more photos here>

Dayr Anba Bishay

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RELIGIOUS UTTERANCES - art of faith introduces the reader to humanity's historic relationship between art and faith. This daily series of articles examines the interlacing of art and faith from across the Anglican Communion. The title of the series, Religious Utterances, comes from systematic theologian Dr. Cecilia Gonzalez-Andrieu, whose work seeks "a recovery of humanity's religious utterances through art."
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RELIGIOUS UTTERANCES - art of faith
Fourteen in a series:
Ancient Egypt in Living Color
Theme: Restoration

Wall Painting Conservation at Dayr Anba Bishay, Sohag
[Philadelphia] Nine years ago, Temple art historian Elizabeth S. Bolman stepped into a decaying, sixth-century church at an isolated monastery near Sohag, Egypt, walked through the nave to the sanctuary and stared at its blackened walls. Beneath centuries of soot and varnish, she saw the dulled ghosts of paintings — magnificent paintings, covering almost every surface of the sanctuary.

"I was transfigured" she said. "I knew it was my destiny."

Now, after nearly a decade of planning, fundraising, diplomacy and painstaking conservation, the fragile wall paintings of Dayr Anba Bishay — commonly known as the Church of the Red Monastery, perhaps the best-preserved and most complete original late-Roman painted church interior in the Byzantine world — are beginning to show their true colors and deliciously complex patterns again.

Almost half the church's paintings have been brought back to life by Bolman's 12-member international conservation team. Emerging from the sanctuary's walls and columns are vivid motifs in pinks, greens, reds and yellows. The faces of Christ, the Virgin Mary, apostles, evangelists, prophets and angels in robes of lavender and orange look out from the niches in the sanctuary's three lobes.

Art historians have long known that church interiors of the late Roman period were brightly colored. Contemporary accounts and a few surviving churches decorated with mosaics, a more durable medium, suggest that builders of the time used color and pattern to dazzle. Yet almost all of the paintings from churches built in the Mediterranean region in late antiquity have been lost.

"That's why I was stunned when I first saw the Red Monastery Church," said Bolman, an associate professor at Temple's Tyler School of Art and an authority on Coptic and medieval art. "I recognized we had a missing link here."

The rebirth of the Red Monastery's wall paintings is paralleled by a rebirth of Coptic Christianity in Egypt, a nation that was predominantly Christian when the monastery was built. Although Islam quickly spread across the region after the Arab conquest in the seventh century, Egypt still has a vibrant Christian minority culture — a tribute, Bolman said, to the nation's tradition of tolerance. Read the full story online here courtesy of Temple University.

Diagrams of the wall painting conservation process, 2002-2007, are available here courtesy of the Yale Egyptological Institute

Source: Temple University Office of News Communications, © 2007 Temple University.

On View: Photograph of the restored wall paintings of Dayr Anba Bishay — commonly known as the Church of the Red Monastery - by Temple University art historian Elizabeth Bolman.

Arte Indocristiano

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RELIGIOUS UTTERANCES - art of faith introduces the reader to humanity's historic relationship between art and faith. This daily series of articles examines the interlacing of art and faith from across the Anglican Communion. The title of the series, Religious Utterances, comes from systematic theologian Dr. Cecilia Gonzalez-Andrieu, whose work seeks "a recovery of humanity's religious utterances through art."
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RELIGIOUS UTTERANCES - art of faith
Fifteen in a series:
Arte Indocristiano
Theme: Mission


"Spanish Franciscans, Dominicans and Augustinians in the 16th century introduced the native Indians to not only their religious beliefs, but the European arts and aesthetics. Hand in hand, they learned about each other in a cultural exchange that gave birth to what we know as Indochristian Art.

There are very few sources that give credit to the intelligence, sensibility, enthusiasm and craftsmanship of the Indians involved in the construction and decoration of the Convents and Temples of the New Spain. A seminal book on Arte Indocristiano by Constantino Reyes-Valerio (1978 first edition, reedited in 2000) analyzed in detail the work of native Mexicans under the guidance of Christian friars."

Source: Wikipedia

On View: "LA VIRGENCITA DEL NUEVO MUNDO", Mexico(The Viceroyalty of New Spain), circa 1521-40
Unknown Aztec artisan ( in a style called Indo-Christian or, increasingly, Tequitqui )
Immaculate Conception (La Virgencita del Nuevo Mundo)
Cantera stone, 14 ¾ inches high x 11 inches wide x 4 ½ inches deep

Art for Christian Liturgy in the Middle Ages

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RELIGIOUS UTTERANCES - art of faith introduces the reader to humanity's historic relationship between art and faith. This daily series of articles examines the interlacing of art and faith from across the Anglican Communion. The title of the series, Religious Utterances, comes from systematic theologian Dr. Cecilia Gonzalez-Andrieu, whose work seeks "a recovery of humanity's religious utterances through art."
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RELIGIOUS UTTERANCES - art of faith
Sixteen in a series:
Art for the Christian Liturgy in the Middle Ages
Theme: Ritual Objects

The term liturgy refers to the rites and ceremonies prescribed by the Eastern and Western Church for communal worship. The central focus of the liturgy is the Eucharist, in which Christians take consecrated wine and bread in commemoration of the Last Supper and Christ's death. While liturgical practices were codified gradually over several centuries and varied locally, eucharistic vessels for the bread and wine, the paten, and the chalice remained indispensable (Attarouthi Treasure, 1986.3.1-15; Chalice, Paten, and Straw, 47.101.26-29). The liturgy in both the Eastern and Western Church necessitated a variety of additional objects such as books, often richly decorated, for prayers, music, and Old and New Testament readings (Leaf from a Missal, 1992.238); crosses for the altar and to be carried in procession (The Cloisters Cross, 63.12; Processional Cross, 1993.163); censers for the burning of incense; and lighting devices for the sanctuary (Polycandelon with Crosses, 2002.483.7).

Because of their sacred function, liturgical objects were often crafted of the most precious materials. In a written account of Justinian’s famed sixth-century church of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople, one author tells of hundreds of vessels and furnishings made of pure gold with pearls and precious stones. Emulating the splendors of Byzantium in his lavish commissions for the royal abbey church of Saint-Denis, north of Paris, Abbot Suger exclaimed in the 1140s:
If golden pouring vessels, golden vials, golden little mortars used to serve … to collect the blood of goats or calves, how much more must golden vessels, precious stones, and whatever is most valued … be laid out … for the reception of the blood of Christ! Surely, neither we nor our possessions suffice for this service.

Source: Department of Medieval Art and The Cloisters. "Art for the Christian Liturgy in the Middle Ages". In Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. (October 2001)

On View: Chasuble, ca. 1330–1350, English. Silk and silver-gilt thread and colored silks in underside couching, split stitch, laid-and-couched work, and raised work, with pearls on velvet; 51 x 30 in. (129.5 x 76.2 cm)


Manga Bible

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RELIGIOUS UTTERANCES - art of faith introduces the reader to humanity's historic relationship between art and faith. This daily series of articles examines the interlacing of art and faith from across the Anglican Communion. The title of the series, Religious Utterances, comes from systematic theologian Dr. Cecilia Gonzalez-Andrieu, whose work seeks "a recovery of humanity's religious utterances through art."
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RELIGIOUS UTTERANCES - art of faith
Seventeen in a series:
The Manga Bible
Theme: Anime

No series on religious utterances throughout the centuries of human development would be complete without the addition of the anime interpretation of the Old and New Testaments, as told through the images of graphic novelist Siku.

A previous blog in this column appeared here.

Julia Evans has written an educational resource for youth groups and schools that progresses over 8 weeks. It is available here.

Ajinbayo Akinsiku, the concept artist and graphic designer for the project, is in seminary in London with the goal of ordination as an Anglican priest. He is quoted as saying, "Christ is a hard guy, seeking revolution and revolt, a tough guy." (New York Times, "The Bible as Graphic Novel" by Neela Banerjee, 2/10/08, A14)

A link to purchase The Manga Bible is available here with the convenience of one-click purchase through the Amazon.com Associates program. All purchases referred from visio-divina.com support Episcopal Cafe Art Blog, Episcopal Church and Visual Arts, and Visio Divina programming.

Source: The Manga Bible website

Welcome Home

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RELIGIOUS UTTERANCES - art of faith introduces the reader to humanity's historic relationship between art and faith. This daily series of articles examines the interlacing of art and faith from across the Anglican Communion. The title of the series, Religious Utterances, comes from systematic theologian Dr. Cecilia Gonzalez-Andrieu, whose work seeks "a recovery of humanity's religious utterances through art."
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RELIGIOUS UTTERANCES - art of faith
Eighteen in a series
Welcome Home Cross by Gurdon Brewster
Theme: Vision

About the Sculptor, The Rev. Gurdon Brewster
Gurdon Brewster, born in 1937, has pursued a double calling during his life: being a university chaplain and also being a sculptor.

His interest in sculpture began in high school and continued during his college years at Haverford College. Studying sculpture throughout college, he donated a bronze bust of one of his favorite teachers, which remains on display in the music building. While attending Union Theological Seminary in New York, he studied with various individuals and institutions, including the Art Students’ League where he worked briefly with Jose de Creeft. During his senior year, he made a portrait bust of Reinhold Niebuhr, which is displayed in the Union Seminary library.my family full size

While at seminary, in 1961, he was invited by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to be an assistant minister during the summer, at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. While there he lived with Martin Luther King Sr. and worked in the church with its youth group and youth groups from around the city. He returned again in 1966 as an assistant for the summer with his family, his wife, Martha, and two daughters. He has written about his experiences in a memoir entitled, No Turning Back.

Rev Brewster is the Founder, with Mrs. Phoebe Griswold, of Episcopal Church and Visual Arts. More about Rev Brewster is available at his website here.

About the Sculpture, Welcome Home Cross

Welcome home is at the heart of our spiritual life. This sculpture is more than the father welcoming home the prodigal son. It is also the mother and daughter, the son and the mother, two friends long apart, two people who love each other, as well as the lonely, the lost, the rejected and the guilty finding God’s absolute acceptance in the heart of the cross.

The vertical and horizontal beams are joined by the circle. The shape suggesting unity, coming together, and the infinite, the eternal God with us. The bronze figures are placed in the center of the Celtic cross where different worlds come together to make “all things new.”

Ongoing Revelation Through Art

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Ongoing Revelation Through Art
Text by Madeleine Beard

Looking at the Transfiguration in art from the 12th century to the present is a demonstration of the ongoing revelation through art. These artists work in a variety of media and their shows their use of “the intuitive inner eye: The eye of contemplation; the eye of the soul.” (Alex Grey quoted by Daniel Mirante, Alex Grey and Sacred Anatomy)

From the bright, glowing gold of the icon at St. Catherine’s Monastery to the small, intensely colored depiction in the Book of Hours of John of Berry, the artists take us from public to private interpretation of text through art. The St. Catherine’s icon’s communal function contrasts with the intimacy of the painting from the Book of Hours, aimed at a single viewer for private meditation.

The Transfiguration icon of Theophanes the Greek is vividly colored, drawing the viewer into the icon alongside Peter who looks outward and upward.

Giovanni Bellini, an early renaissance artist, painted the Transfiguration in natural light and a realistic landscape. His colors are rich and saturated.

Carl Bloch, a Danish 19th century artist, paints the scene with the disciples in the foreground in vivid color and Moses and Elijah overshadowed by the brilliance of the Transfigured Jesus. Only Jesus faces the viewer and his face is not discernible.

Contemporary artist Solomon Raj paints an Indian Jesus, because “What is needed is not cultural isolation (the existence of many cultures without mutual contact) nor cultural universalism (i.e. the domination of one particular culture without freedom for others) nor uniformity but rather unity through the acknowledgment and interaction of diversified cultural identities and gifts.

"Thus I think everyone, through this sharing of cultural idiom, one will experience the gospel in his own brush like everyone heard the gospel in his own tongue on the Pentecost day.” (P. Solomon Raj, Art, Faith and Culture )

Tim Steele paints Jesus with the face and dress of Abraham Lincoln and God as George Washington. He uses the Transfiguration to comment on America blending of government and religion.

Alex Grey, the last artist in this series, writes, "Though the artist, their art and the viewer are all impermanent, art can provide evidence of contact with the universal creative force beyond time. Art has a function and a mission to interpret the world, to reveal the condition of the soul, to encourage our higher nature and awaken the dormant spiritual faculties within every individual." Grey’s Transfiguration consists of the figure of Christ alone, no disciples, Moses or Elijah. The figure is both enveloped in light and radiating. Grey’s description of the mission of art applies to all these artists. They all interpret the text of the Gospel to their time and place. As they interpret, they reveal and participate in the ongoing quest for understanding and transformation.

Here are links to images of the Transfiguration painted throughout history:

- The Transfiguration, from the Twelve Feasts on an iconostasis beam and dating to the 12th century

- John of Berry's Petites Heures
14th century

- Theophanes the Greek
late 14th century

- Giovanni Bellini
15th century

- Carl Bloch
19th century

- Solomon Raj
20th century

- Tim Steele
20th century

- Alex Grey
late 20th century

On View: The Transfiguration by P. Solomon Raj. 20th century.

About the Author: Madeleine Beard is a Deacon in the Diocese of Maryland.

Collaborative Liturgical Art

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St Peters Episcopal Church,Beverly, Massachusetts
The Rev. Manuel P. Faria III, Rector

by Kendyll Hillegas


This past fall my husband Eric and I worked with a group of young adults at St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Beverly, Massachusetts. We had one main goal: to explore what it means to lead lives that matter. We hammered out this goal in several different ways, by working at the church's already-established Sunday night supper for the homeless, by getting involved collaboratively in another installation at a mental health unit at a local hospital, and by alternating our weeks of work with weeks of study and discussion. We found many common threads in each of these endeavors, but the common thread of incarnation, of Christ's being made human and coming to us as a baby at Advent was what we decided to focus on for the capstone of our group's time together that fall. Thus, as we began thinking and imagining what we might create in the nave, the installation became an opportunity for the tying together in an intellectual and physical way of the incarnation of Christ at Advent.

We began the project by talking about themes. Then the group discussed whether we'd do something like a mural or banner, or an abstract installation. Since many in the group had no art experience we decided to steer towards something that could be engineered, designed, and then built in collaboration.

I started designing the piece in the early fall. Once I had some sketches, I began communicating just as closely with the church leadership as I had been with the young adult group. Thus, it became a collaboration of a number of different levels. After some approval from the Rector on the sketches we decided to go forward and order fabric. Everyone in the church was very supportive as excited. As we waited for the unveiling of the piece, it seemed to even heighten the sense of anticipation for Advent, for Christ's coming.

By October, we had the fabric and I had already completed most of the measuring, and engineering--all that remained was the assembly and installation. We also organized with the church administrator to publish a short article in the November newsletter explaining a little bit about what was going to be happening in the sanctuary in December. I think this was a really wonderful opportunity, as it truly opened up the lines of conversation, and had parishioners thinking and imagining even before the piece was installed.

The piece was installed the Saturday before Advent began, and remained up through Epiphany. The level of interaction with the piece was very exciting. Nearly every member of the congregation had something to say. I was very intentional about withholding any sort of 'answer key' for congregants, and I was so glad I did. Because every time someone came to me to ask, "what does it mean?" and I returned the question to them instead of answering it right away we would both be rewarded with an immensely rich conversation--doubtlessly much richer than if I had simply said, "well the red strand represents Christ, etc."

The piece is made of satin, and chiffon, and hung with fishing wire.


On View: Liturgical Art at St. Peter's Episcopal Church, Beverly MA. The Rev. Manuel P. Faria III, Rector.

About the Author, Kendyll Hillegas: I grew up loving to draw, to imagine, to plan and to act out stories. From a young age, I very much was extremely interested in the arts, but was always discouraged from pursuing them seriously. It wasn't until I was a sophomore at Gordon College and took a Drawing 1 class, just for fun, that I finally began to see that I could integrate all those elements of drama, and beauty and the Christian story, and at that point the fact that it 'didn't fit' within the bounds of a traditional sensible career only made it seem more necessary. I finally merged the art part of my life, and the normal part of my life and moved forward.

During my time at Gordon, I became very interested in exploring the intersection of art and faith. I was fortunate enough to pioneer an internship coordinating efforts between the art department, the chapel and a non-profit arts organization called CIVA. Collaboration was a key element, and I worked with other visual and non-visual artists to coordinate several large-scale projects. I have kept this love of collaboration as a key element to my liturgical work, and also an aspect of my fine art as well as I am always considering the impact/implications of how something will interact in a community.

Since entering the professional art community I have been pursuing two ends, both of which are equally important to me. One is to work with churches at the intersection of art and faith, helping them to explore ways that the visual can serve the sacred in the life of their community. The other is to continue to pursue fine arts, creating pieces that are not necessarily collaborative but nevertheless attempt to tell stories and to interact with individuals and groups.

I think this impulse to collaborate has made it especially exciting and rewarding that my husband Eric, a recently ordained Episcopal priest, has also shared an interest in the intersection of art and faith. In his pursuit of Biblical studies he has often looked through this lens, and allowed both of us many interesting conversations. This fall. he will begin work as a curate in inner city Boston.

Visit Ms. Hillegas' website:
or email her at kendyll.hillegas@gmail.com

Communicating with Images

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We can say so much with a single image that dozens of words can only hope to accomplish. In the late 19th century, Ivan Turgenev (Russian author of Fathers and Sons) aptly wrote , "A picture shows me at a glance what it takes dozens of pages of a book to expound." In the west, we are more familiar with the proverb "A picture says a thousand words." Both phrases refer to the idea that complex stories can be described with just a single still image, or that an image may be more influential than a substantial amount of text.

This is all well and tidy, but if a picture is speaking prose, what is it actually saying and to whom? Do all viewers of a picture receive the same thousand words? Of course they do not, and the reason why different people receive different messages when looking at an identical picture has to do with visual literacy. Loosely put, 'visual literacy' has to do with the experience of the workings of visual media partnered with a heightened conscious awareness of the workings.

There are four aspects to visual literacy, according to Paul Messaris:
-1- Visual literacy is a pre-requisite for the comprehension of visual media. In other words, for a person to understand what they are looking at, some form of education is in order.
-2- There are general cognitive consequences of visual literacy that are mostly positive. Watching television and other visual media for meaning may enhance the ability to receive meaning from other forms of communication.
-3- There is an awareness of visual manipulation. An improved understanding of visual media might make the viewer more resistant to manipulations attempted by television commercials, political campaigns, and print advertisements.
-4- Aesthetic appreciation can become more informed. For example, in the case of special effects in movies, an understanding of how these effects are produced can dampen the vicarious thrill a viewer receives.

Paul Messaris is associate professor of communication at The Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania. He has conducted research on viewers’ awareness of visual manipulation in movies and advertising, and on parent-child discussions about television. A preview of his book is available online through Google Books, Visual Literacy - Image, Mind and Reality and a link to purchase the book is here.

The Episcopal Church Image Shop contains official graphics and logos, together with shields, signs, symbols and photo galleries. These images are available for download in a variety of formats.

On View: Seek First, by Jan Neal.

About the Artists
Jan Neal works primarily in digital painting, design and photography with digital liturgical design and symbol as her primary areas of ecclesiastical artistic interests. Her work has been featured in Episcopal Life, the Morehouse Publishing Christian Planning Calendar, The Apostle, EpiscopalChurch.org, Episcopal Church & Visual Arts, and in a Museum of Biblical Art presentation. She was also a curator and contributing artist for Visual Preludes 2006.

More of Jan’s work may be seen in ECVA’s archived exhibitions, and ECVA’s web site Contacts. She is Director for Exhibitions for ECVA and produces the publicity for her parish, Emmanuel Episcopal Church.

Marilyn Dale Marilyn Dale is a graphic designer, fine artist, marketing expert, and member of CIVA (Christians in the Visual Arts). The chair of the Art and Environment Ministry for her church, she’s designed large-scale liturgical fabric and acrylic pieces. She has written and designed brochures for her church, small businesses, and Fortune 500 companies. Marilyn welcomes commissions in graphic or fine art and is available for logos, brochures, liturgical art ensemble design – vestments, banners and paramounts - as well as opportunities to provide workshops on the creation and management of an Arts Ministry.

Zhongxian Tang Zhongxian Tang was born in China; he received a BA in Fine Arts from Zhejian Fine Arts Academy and an MFA in Computer Arts from School of Visual Arts in NY. Previously he was a graphic designer for IBM US Business Trade Shows, and ABC News. Currently he is a liturgical designer for CM ALMY.

That the Freedom of the Human Spirit Shall Go On

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The Soldier Billboard Project
"Thousands of American soldiers are returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. We may wonder what they saw, what they did and how their war experience has affected them as they return to civilian life. These are the questions posed by a series of powerful artist billboards appearing in five cities during this election season.

"Artist Suzanne Opton has photographed soldiers between tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. Her portraits afford the viewer a very intimate and serious look at the young men and women who have put their lives at risk serving in the military. The results are haunting and when they appear on forty-eight foot billboards floating above the freeway in the light of day or eerily illuminated at night, they are compelling and mysterious." from the Soldier Billboard Project Press Release

Suzanne Opton is an art photographer whose public art project is in the news this week. Her Soldier Billboard Project is at the center of a controversy over billboard space. (Read the NY Times story here. Download the Soldier Billboard Project Press Release here)

World War II and the National Gallery of Art
Since World War II, the United States has supported a close relationship between artists and war. "Throughout the war the National Gallery of Art was inspired by the conviction that the great art within its walls represented the highest values for which the nation was fighting. Approximately one quarter of the museum's employees joined the armed forces; in their absence, the remaining staff set about protecting the Gallery's artworks and supporting the war effort on the home front.

"The National Gallery of Art opened to the public in March 1941 on the eve of World War II. Thinking of the battles already being fought in Europe, President Franklin D. Roosevelt said in his dedication speech: 'To accept this work today is to assert the purpose of the people of America--that the freedom of the human spirit and human mind which has produced the world's great art . . . shall not be utterly destroyed.'" Listen to President Roosevelt's dedication speech here. [Source: National Gallery of Art]

Public works of art - The Freedom of the Human Spirit
With the Soldiers Billboard Project, photographer Opton is carrying on an American tradition founded in the 1930's with the Public Works of Art Project. Her portraits dignify the service of the American soldier while tearing down our carefully constructed guard against what it is we as a republic ask these service men and women to do. President Roosevelt's words echo loudly and bear repeating : To accept this work today is to assert the purpose of the people of America--that the freedom of the human spirit and human mind which has produced the world's great art . . . shall not be utterly destroyed.

On View: Soldier: Williams, 396 days in Iraq. Photograph, Copyright © 2008, Suzanne Opton, www.suzanneopton.com. Used with permission.

About the artist: Suzanne Opton is an art photographer in New York, New York. Her work has been exhibited across the United States and internationally, with a recent solo exhibition of Soldier at the Musee de l'Elyee in Lausanne, Switzerland. Her website is www.suzanneopton.com.

Sending Artists Into Combat

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THE ARMY ART PROGRAM

In January 1943, George Biddle, a mural artist and the brother of the U.S. Secretary General, was invited by the assistant Secretary of War to form a War Department Art Advisory committee and serve as chair. The army, inspired by the success of a small war artist program in WWI, had been considering sending artists into battle since early 1942. Biddle's committee, which would be responsible for selecting the artists, included the noted artist Henry Varnum Poor, the director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art Francis Henry Taylor, and the writer John Steinbeck. Steinbeck was an active supporter of the war art program, and wrote to Biddle: "It seems to me that a total war would require the use not only of all of the material resources of the nation but also the spiritual and psychological participation of the whole people. And the only psychic communication we have is through the arts."

A total of forty-two Army artists were eventually selected by the committee to work in twelve theaters of war around the world. In March, 1943, they were sent a memorandum by Biddle outlining their mission:

...Any subject is in order, if as artists you feel that it is part of War; battle scenes and the front line battle landscapes; the dying and the dead; prisoners of war; field hospitals and base hospitals; wrecked habitations and bombing scenes; character sketches of our own troops, of prisoners, of the natives of the countries you visit;- never official portraits; the tactical implements of war; embarkation and debarkation scenes; the nobility, courage, cowardice, cruelty, boredom of war; all this should form part of a well-rounded picture. Try to omit nothing; duplicate to your heart's content. Express if you can, realistically or symbolically, the essence and spirit of war. You may be guided by Blake's mysticism, by Goya's cynicism and savagery, by Delacroix's romanticism, by Daumier's humanity and tenderness; or better still follow your own inevitable star. We believe that our Army Command is giving you an opportunity to bring back a record of great value to our country. Our committee wants to assist you to that end.

By May 1943, artists in the South Pacific, Australia, Alaska, and North Africa were hard at work, and the other units were either on standby overseas, or awaiting departure clearance.

Unbeknownst to them, the Army art program was under fire at home. In June, the House of Representatives began to examine the Army's budget for the year 1943-44. Of the $71.5 billion budget, only $125,000 was slated for the art program. Nevertheless, the necessity of the art program was called into question and most forcefully opposed by Democratic Congressman Joe Starnes, of Alabama, who called the project "a piece of foolishness." Representative A. Willis Robertson of Virginia defended the program, arguing, "we can take photographs of what happens in Europe, but... it takes the vision and artistic skill of the artist to bring us the inspiration which only an artist can put down on canvas." Still, when the $71,898,425,740 war bill was passed in June, the art program was cut. Funds for the artists would cease on August 21. The artists were devastated. One artist wrote in his diary, "One of us might conceivably have had his head shot off, and at the same time Congress is giving us this kick in the pants."

Despite the cancellation of the program, most of the artists remained determined to continue their work. LIFE magazine initiated its own war art program, and picked up the contracts of many of the civilian artists. Many of the Army artists were reassigned to information offices overseas where they continued to draw and paint. Some military leaders took advantage of the stranded artists and appointed them "official combat artists" of individual campaigns and units.

In 1944, Congress changed its position and authorized soldier artists to produce artwork outside the U.S., as long as it did not interfere with their regular assignments. Army supported artists continued to cover the fronts in North Africa, Sicily, Italy, Northern Europe, the South Pacific, Japan, and Korea. By the end of the war the Army had acquired more than two thousand works of art. Today the collection is stored away in the archives of the U.S. Army Center for Military History, in downtown Washington, D.C.

Text:
Adapted from "They Drew Fire", online at PBS.org.

On View: "Race Against Death" by Franklin Boggs.
Franklin Boggs received his art education at the Fort Wayne Art School and Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. He was awarded two European Traveling Fellowships and was in Europe at the outbreak of the war in 1939. Boggs began his art career by recording the activities of the Tennessee Valley Authority and painting murals for the U.S. Post Office. He became a war artist-correspondent for Abbott Laboratories early in 1944 and documented the work of the Army Medical Department in the South Pacific. After the war, Boggs was commissioned to paint in South American and became a full professor and artist-in-residence at Beloit College, where he continued his work as a muralist. His works have been exhibited in many leading U.S. museums including the Metropolitan, Corcoran, Legion of honor and Chicago Art Institute. His murals are in eight states and two are in Finland. He now lives in Beloit, Wisconsin.

Illustration, Allegory and Ekphrasis

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Illustration is a work of art where the subject is stronger than the form. The purpose of an illustration is to clarify or decorate a text by representing the content of the text in a visual form. There is often a close correlation between the subject and the illustration itself with little interpretation asked of the viewer in order for them to understand what they are seeing.

Allegory is a story with two meanings, a literal meaning and a symbolic meaning. Second and third century theologians Origen and Justin Martyr, as well as other theologians of the early church, wrote of humanity’s capacity to know God through metaphoric images of God. Metaphoric images are perhaps best thought of as non-pictorial representations of God, less like narrative illustrations and more like traces of life that point to God’s existence. Thus an allegory is a form of extended metaphor, in which objects, persons, and actions in a narrative, are equated with the meanings that lie outside the narrative itself. The underlying meaning of allegory has moral, social, religious, or political significance. The characters depicted are often personifications of abstract ideas as charity, greed, or envy.

Ekphrasis writing is a verbal description on a visual work of art. You can try it yourself, by looking at a piece of art such as 'Untitled" by Moses Hoskins (above) and writing your impressions as prose or poetry. Because it engages our personal skills of recognition and meaning-making, ekphrasis writing can be very useful in teaching allegory. Where ekphrasis writing begins with image to inspire the writing of a responsive text, Visio Divina begins with an existing text (usually scripture) and uses it to frame the illustrative and allegorical meaning present in a work of art.

Visio Divina is a form of scripture study with images. I think of it as the granddaughter of Lectio Divina. Meditative exercises like Visio Divina and Lectio Divina help us to tap into the multiple intelligences of our selves and the communities in which we work. As priests and ministers we are able to bring an art form into religious life and use it to inspire discussion, critical thinking, writing and more.

As an individual practice Visio Divina serves as a spiritual discipline similar to Lectio Divina, its grandfather. As a community practice, Visio Divina serves contemporary communities by offering a means to bring visuals of any origin into the context of their common life. It provides opportunities to engage in higher-order thinking through analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. It can be done on location wherever art is present (museums, churches, billboards) or in a classroom with posters or prints. At its simplest, Visio Divina asks : Where do the writer and the artist have similarities and where do they have differences?

On View: "Untitled" by Moses Hoskins, painting and drawing media on canvas, 54 x 80 inches. Seen at Image & Spirit Blogspot, an ECVA sketchbook open at the intersections of art and faith.

You in Me and I in You - Reflections on Living Water

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Reflections on Living Water
by John Holliger

“Living Water” in Greek is sparkling, bubbling water; leaping, jumping water; kissing, blessing everything.

My first memory of living water is as a small boy, exploring the huge, soft shouldered boulders of the Little Pigeon River in Newfound Gap of the Smoky Mountains. I experienced newfound freedom as I rock-hopped from boulder to boulder. I crouched down between rocks to touch the bubbles of tiny waterfalls and listen to their songs. My hands stroked the clear water flowing over curving stone shapes. Swirling water sang with quiet confidence. I caressed the soft, wet, green mosses on shaded boulders. Standing like a giant I took huge boy strides in slow motion onto the next boulder. I jumped like an Olympic star onto a wet mossy boulder and careened feet first into the pool below, falling hands-forward soaked, frightened, and excited for more. Out of breath I listened to different songs arising everywhere around me.

Oh the freedom to hide from my mom behind the next boulder and the next boulder and the next. The singing water filled our hearts and ears. I could not hear my mom calling me. I had a logical explanation for not returning when she willed. “Sorry, I couldn’t hear you.”

Years later I had such fun showing my daughters the joy of rock-hopping. We were Olympic gymnasts slipping off the high beam onto wet mossy boulders below, laughing, excited to be wet and free and alive.

All my life I have journeyed up the chanting river of life to find the Source. Such bliss of searching for that One who is just around the next boulder… and find that One already flowing freely within me. You in me and I in you.


About the Artist: "At the age of twelve, I began taking photographs with my father’s Speed Graflex 4 x 5 large format camera. My dad taught me black and white photo development and dye transfer color printing in our basement dark room. As a teen-ager, I learned how to use a Hasselblad medium format camera, a Rollei twin lens, and the Leica 35mm SLR equipment. I traveled with my dad to botanical and bryological association meetings around the country and hiked with botanists to remote locations. We brought specimens home in order to do microphotography in our basement onto positives and negatives — developing the negatives by dye transfer into 11 x 16 prints. This experience was the inspiration for a life long love of photographing unassuming wonders of nature in out-of-the-way places." John Holliger See more of his work at www.acontemplativenature.com


Notes to Myself: Persistent Curiosities

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by Robert Epley

I pulled the picture out and looked at it again puzzled about why I kept coming back to it. Several of my photographs draw me back to them this way. They are like messages sealed in a bottle bobbing up and down on the water. I get intriguing glimpses of the message folded up and sealed inside. Again and again I wonder what I should find hidden in these images.

Frustration at being unable able to make good traditional prints could be what keeps drawing me back. But that really doesn’t feel like the right explanation. There is something more here than what appears on the surface.

Would working on a digitalized version of the film result in prints that feel right? In the digital darkroom the images take on a life of their own. I became even more curious about what was in the bottle bobbing up and down on the water. They were more than snapshots, but how could I read the “thousand words” each picture represented? What was I saying? My memory of what the original image felt like is shown in the main picture of each image. The inset approximated a wet darkroom print.

The image in The Journey Within originally fascinated me because the picture I saw the water was a more interesting than image the above the water. Now, I have a growing realization: water stands for feelings. This picture was taken around the time of the birth of our second daughter. From today’s perspective I believe it represents the emotional journey I and others embark on when we bring children into our lives.

Architectural images are a long standing interest of mine. I am drawn to the geometrical design in architectural features as they appear on a flat surface. In editing the digital images something else appeared. I began to see how buildings and especially homes were a statement about me. When I began photographing the Clarkson Homestead we had recently moved back to Colorado. As a third generation Colorado native, my interest in roots and family history was reawakened. Without realizing this, a rainy fall afternoon and an historic homestead fit well with what was in the back of my mind – Rain of Remembrance.

A home can hold many different meanings. Although we can’t go back home, our heart is still there. Longing for comfort in difficult times brings to mind the Hills of Home. A flower blossoming from a stone in a dilapidated house expresses Newfound Inner Strength.

I was surprised to find the religious themes that emerged as I reinterpreted some of these images. None of the source images were photographed with the intent of portraying a religious subject. A climbing rose on a broken out window was originally a geometrical design curiosity not a Crown of Thorns. I was drawn to the three trees because of the dynamic relationship among them on a foggy morning. Reinterpreting these images was a long and often frustrating struggle. Finally, letting them become what they insisted on being, It’s Something More and the Trinity Mystery emerged.

Curiosity about myself like the interest most of us have about ourselves is what I believe impels me to return to these images and explore their meaning.

Robert J. Epley is a photographer living and working in Nederland, Colorado. His work has received numerous awards and is included in the collection of the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center. His work can be seen in 'Portraits of the Self,' an exhibition of Episcopal Church and Visual Arts.

The Eyes of Gutete

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"I strongly believe in the power of a single idea,” says Alfredo Jaar. “My imagination starts working based on research, based on a real life event, most of the time a tragedy that I’m just starting to analyze, to reflect on…this real life event to which I’m trying to respond.” Through his work, Jaar explores both the public’s desensitization to images and the limits of art to represent events such as genocide. Art21 follows and films Jaar in his native Chile during a major retrospective of his work, which he shares for the first time with the Chilean public—a triumphant and moving homage in his homeland after leaving to live abroad shortly after the Pinochet regime’s military coup."

Alfredo Jaar is a Chilean artist best known for 'The Rwanda Project 1994-1998'. Jaar is interviewed by art:21 about 'The Rwanda Project' here.

Watch interviews and slideshows of his work at art:21 art in the twenty-first century , a pbs series, here.

On View: The Eyes of Gutete Emerita, 1996. Photography by Alfredo Jaar. Copyright © 1996 Alfredo Jaar.

Finding Life Lessons in Art

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by Jerome Lawrence

An efficient route to happiness and success would involve a continual investigation into concepts and principles governing human tendencies and those of our surroundings, revealing to us patterns from which predictions can be made. More accurate predictions facilitate better choices; when we make better choices we increase our chances of successful outcomes. Correlations can be seen in routes to success in both life and art. I have found that the best examples are revealed through discovery oriented practices where problems are invented to test our skills and broaden our minds and solutions tailored to meet our needs at times of exploration and growth. With a good teacher, each problem is designed to solicit thoughtful solutions that tend to be flexible, creative and encouraging of a belief in limitless possibilities. As opposed to, for example, art lessons that calls for the dutiful practice of directly copying a physical object where the problem’s design is limited to the improvement of one’s technique and solutions are confined to more and more practice at duplicating the object. During teen years into adulthood the beginning student usually focuses on the accurate reproduction of each detail of a model or scene. How different was their focus years earlier as children when a drawing or painting captured their impression of an object or expressed what they thought about the object or scene.

I’ll admit as a learning tool accurate reproduction is needed because it is easier to copy your emotions and ideas to canvas if you’ve had prior practice portraying the look and feel of a physical object with artists’ materials. The act of copying sharpens the artist’s skill at manipulating materials to bring about a certain effect. This develops awareness of what might be possible with the use of paint on canvas, helping the artist to lay out pathways leading to good, better and best chances of achieving his objective; a plausible progression would be to impart the painting or subject with character and expressiveness through lessons learned from dutiful and varying manipulation of artists’ materials. A simple example of this might be to use lighter, warmer colors in thin layers to express joy and darker, cooler colors with thick, impasto like texture to create a more depressive tone to the work as a whole or an object or figure within the work. You may already see that a broader perspective is needed to capture not only the look, but the feel, expressiveness, emotional and intellectual properties of a model or scene. A broader, more encompassing perspective would not only take into account patterns inherent to an object’s appearance but also patterns of human perception as subjectively altered by a person’s beliefs, memories, thoughts, fears and possibly suggestions intuitively discerned from the presence of others either with us in actual space or within our minds. Perception may better be understood as the psychological baggage acting as a filter in our line of sight between an object and our understanding of it. The images behind our eyes, painted with biased brushes, speak much more eloquently to a subject’s rendition than the narrow, painstaking and often frustrating act of copying minute details with camera like precision, serving in many cases to cancel expressive options and opinions about a subject to mechanically report visual “facts”.

excerpted from How to Get What You Want by Changing Your Mind - Finding Life Lessons in Art ©2006 by Jerome Lawrence. Used with permission of the artist.

On View: Heaven's Gate by Jerome Lawrence. 20x24, acrylic on canvas. BFA, Georgia State University. Jerome Lawrence's solo exhibitions in Georgia include galleries such as Sabra Gallery, Ferst Center for the Arts at Georgia Tech, Chances Gallery, City Gallery East, VSA Arts for All Gallery, and others. His artwork is part of the documentary Shadow Voices & Building on Faith by Mennonite Media, and he has been interviewed by CNN news, WXIA-TV and WSB-TV in Atlanta, Georgia.

Jerome Lawrence's work was featured in Visual Preludes 2006, an exhibition of Episcopal Church & Visual Arts for the 75th General Convention of The Episcopal Church, Columbus, Ohio, 2006.

Jerome Lawrence’s onset of schizophrenia was surfaced in 1982 just before he was to receive his Bachelor of Visual Arts degree from Georgia State University. Through pain and perseverance, Jerome earned his BVA in 1984. A practicing painter, writer, speaker (website: www.jeromelawrence.net) and in recovery from illness, he shares secrets learned from ‘Recovery through the Arts’.

Understanding the Role of Art Today

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A personal goal of mine is to better understand the role that art plays in society's construction of its own identity, and therefore its progression and growth in to the future. If art reflects the people who lived during the time of its creation, then Laura Fisher Smith's icons should give each of us cause to stop and re-evaluate our priorities.

Art records the evidence of a society's existence. Smith's icons of the homeless, such as the one seen above, proclaim what she values most, and bluntly reveal her concern for the marginalized, the sick and the needy. With a creative vision filled with both mercy and advocacy, she paints individual persons who are homeless with a dignity and grace once reserved for saints.

Most loving God,
as your desire for mercy for the poor is unrelenting,
may we be unrelenting in our pursuit of mercy for all;
as your compassion for the suffering of the poor knows no limit,
may our hearts overflow with compassion for all;
as you long for justice for the poor,
may we strive for justice for all.
Open our eyes to the structures of oppression from which we benefit,
and give us courage to accept our responsibility,
wisdom to chart a sound course amid complexity,
and perseverance to continue our work until it is finished.
Breathe your life-giving Spirit afresh into your Church
to free us from apathy and indifference;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

[The Episcopalians for Global Reconciliation Prayer]


About the Artist: Laura is a graphic artist, painter and iconographer. An active member of the Episcopal Church and the Visual Arts, her work was displayed during worship at the 2006 General Convention. Laura draws icons for contemplative prayer and offers them for sale at www.ikonarts.net, with the net proceeds from sales of all icons, prints, cards and commissions go to relieve extreme poverty through participation in the Millennium Development Goals. She lives in Phoenix, with her husband, the Rt. Rev. Kirk Smith, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Arizona. She is a Founding member of the Board of Episcopalians for Global Reconciliation.

Doyle Pectoral Cross

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DOYLE PECTORAL CROSS - in process - Rough Gold Casting with InLaid Stones

Nancy Denmark is a jewelry artist working near Houston, Texas. Recently she was commissioned to create a pectoral cross for Bishop-elect C. Andrew Doyle, the ninth bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Texas. Denmark has created a visual documentary of the work process to create the Doyle Pectoral Cross on her website, nancydenmark.com. Each step is described through a gallery of photos that provide larger views and include explanations of Denmark's process and the symbols she designs into her precious metalwork.

On View: DOYLE PECTORAL CROSS, rough gold casting with inlaid stones by Nancy Denmark, jewelry artist.

About the Artist: Nancy Denmark is a founding member of the Texas Chapter of Episcopal Chruch and Visual Arts. She writes, "I am primarily a jewelry artist, but in recent years I have been taking a few leaps out of my normal realm of metal jewelry making. As an artist, I try to remain open, willing, always listening and discerning how I am being called to use the gifts I have been given, remaining open to where I may be led to explore, stretching my creativity into new areas."

Senses of the Soul

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ALBUM OF HOURS
Ellen Wiener is an artist whose work invites the viewer to an intimate participation in things already known. She also tucks into each page the promise of things to be discovered. Much like worship, her small works are often segmented into portions, with an organically rhythmic organization that shepherds the viewer into quiet reflection. On her website Wiener writes, "The paintings in the Book of Hours series are constructed from a mixture of contemporary and medieval references. Some of the medieval imagery and structure, although familiar to a contemporary audience through countless musical compositions, poems, prayers and histories, does benefit from the kind of text that would ordinarily accompany an exhibition or be noted in some way on the page facing each illumination. These pictures are visual responses to events and stories that medieval people would automatically know- but, for us, the traditional narratives are often subsumed, forgotten or confused with the many methods of translation that have come down to us over the years."

SENSES OF THE SOUL
In similar fashion, Dr. Bill Dyrness has studied the way art and visual elements are incorporated into Christian worship. In this podcast with Kevin Gibson, Dyrness discusses the content of his new book, Senses of the Soul: Art and the Visual in Christian Worship. This book is based on the results of research conducted with Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox congregations in the Los Angeles area. Dr. Dyrness is Professor of Theology and Culture at Fuller Seminary. Dr. Kevin Gibson is in his seventh year as associate pastor of worship and music at First Baptist Church, North Kansas City, Missouri. He has an undergraduate degree in music from William Jewell College in Liberty, Missouri and a master of church music from Southern Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. In 2004, Kevin completed his doctor of ministry at Northern Seminary in Lombard, Illinois.

On View: Three Logics by Ellen Wiener. Oil on three panels, 9" x 36", 2003. From An Album of Hours by Ellen Wiener. See her book, The Still Small Hours, 2007, here.

About the Artist: Ellen Wiener is a painter and printmaker. She holds degrees from Bennington College and Queens College CUNY, and has taught and lectured widely at the university level since 1985. Faculty positions include appointments at Princeton University, Stony Brook SUNY, Louisiana State University, Saint Mary's Honors College of Maryland, Sweet Briar College, Suffolk Community College, University of New Mexico, Queens College CUNY and Dartmouth College. She is a founding member of The Artists Registry.

In the Name of God

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In the Name of God: War, Religion, and the Reliquaries of Al Farrow

A relic is something, like a cloak or a lock of hair, that remains after a person or event has passed. A reliquary is the container that holds the relic. In the Roman and Eastern Orthodox ecclesiastical traditions, relics are usually a part of the body of a saint or martyr, or a piece of their clothing. The use of relics is found in traditions other than Christianity. Buddhist history maintains that relics of the Buddha's bones were distributed soon after his death, and archaeological evidence appears to confirm this. As far as I know, relics do not have a central role in Protestant life. But I know that, for me, they function as portals of remembrance. And I find the entire concept helpful in times like these.

Take for example the work of artist Al Farrow. Farrow’s current body of work continues to appropriate and reinterpret the traditional iconography of Jewish, Christian, and Islamic religious institutions and beliefs, and their historic links to complex political, cultural, and military issues and events. His "Skull Fragment of Santa Guerra" (seen above) questions the values of a society that would make war with the living and venerate the dead bones of the past. To make his art, Farrow uses deconstructed gun components, bullets, steel shot, bone fragments and wood. He mixes them with rosaries, crucifixes and other religious symbols and creates sanctuary-like settings. At first glance, Farrow's constructions appear to be beautifully crafted scale models of European cathedrals and temples, even though they are not historically identifiable. Looking more closely, I find myself remembering my history, and the man-made events that fill its pages.

Prayer for Veterans Day
We ask for blessings on all those who have served their country in the armed forces.
We ask for healing for the veterans who have been wounded, in body and soul, in conflicts around the globe.
We pray especially for the young men and women, in the thousands, who are coming home from Iraq with injured bodies and traumatized spirits.
Bring solace to them, O Lord; may we pray for them when they cannot pray.
We ask for an end to wars and the dawning of a new era of peace,
As a way to honor all the veterans of past wars.

Have mercy on all our veterans from World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq,
Bring peace to their hearts and peace to the regions they fought in.
Bless all the soldiers who served in non-combative posts;
May their calling to service continue in their lives in many positive ways.

Give us all the creative vision to see a world which, grown weary with fighting,
Moves to affirming the life of every human being and so moves beyond war.
Hear our prayer, O Prince of Peace, hear our prayer.
~adapted from the Prayers of the Springfield Franciscans

On View: Skull Fragment of Santa Guerra, by Al Farrow. Wood, Tin Nicho, Glass, Bullets, Bone, Rosary. 16h X 12w X 4d, 1996

On Exhibition: November 8 2008 - February 15 2009, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. More>

Imitation leading to Creation

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On View Boy with a Pipe (Garçon à la pipe), 1905. Oil on canvas, 100 × 81.3 cm. Detail. Source: wikipedia.
Though we know Picasso perhaps more for his modern work that his classical style, the truth is that he began as many fine artists do, copying the work of masters. This tradition of copying has had a prominent place in the art academy for centuries. Many artists, including Picasso, submit themselves to the study of the classical for good reason. The process of faithful copying teaches the artist about the making of art, and in doing so they learn what art-making means, for others and for themselves. Copying trains the eye and the hand; the student artist discovers both the techniques of the master and the topography of their own inspiration.

There is an exhibition in Paris this winter that shows many of Picasso's master-inspired works. If you're in town, bring your sketchbox, get your tickets early and spend the day at the Galeries nationales du Grand Palais. If you were to copy El Greco, Matisse and Rousseau, and move from imitation through to creation, what would your work look like? I'd like to know: write to me at mahlborn@ecva.org.

About the Exhibition: Picasso and the masters, at the Galeries nationales du Grand Palais, Paris France. October 8 2008 - February 2 2009. 210 works form the worlds leading collections illustrate the inspiration thar Picasso drew from the great masters. Full details at the exhibition's weblink here>

Read more
- Sir Joshua Reynolds' Discourses on Art (London, 1769-1790)
- Robert Henri's The Art Spirit (Philadelphia, 1923).

Advent I

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Let your hand be upon the man of your right hand, *
the son of man you have made so strong for yourself.
And so will we never turn away from you; *
give us life, that we may call upon your Name.
Psalm 80:16-17


On View: Greeting by Sr. Claire Joy, Digital art, October 2008.

I've always been drawn to the story of Mary and Elizabeth. I wanted to create an image that expressed that one elusive moment of joy and wonder... before the two pregnancies create conflict, heartbreak and misunderstanding for these women who have said "yes" to God.

About the Artist: Sr. Claire Joy is a member of the Community of the Holy Spirit, an Episcopal order of sisters in New York. Before joining the community, she worked as an artist and graphic designer for most of her adult life. See more of Sr. Claire Joy's art at her website, at The Artists Registry, and in many exhibitions of Episcopal Church and Visual Arts.

Advent II

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I will listen to what the LORD God is saying, *
for he is speaking peace to his faithful people
and to those who turn their hearts to him.
Psalm 85:8

On View: Tracings of Eternal Light (Cross) by John Sager; Assemblage (Broken auto glass, cookie cutter, glass, frame) Date/Size: 13" x 9" x 4.75" (2005)

Tracings of Eternal Light (Cross) and (Angel) — Two in a series of artworks
The art of assemblage is the real joining of separate objects into a cohesive whole. The word “religion” is derived from a word meaning to reconnect. The religious task is to put the split life back together. Where the two become one in a commingling is often where the individual glimpses the Eternal Being.I try to turn chaos into order by whatever means possible, sometimes by accident. The contour line of the angel, surrounded by the mass of broken glass, is just waiting for the light to fill her. The same for the cross: “In my deepest wound I see your glory and it dazzles me.” — St. Augustine

About the Artist: John Sager’s unique assemblage sculptures and collages have been featured in numerous gallery, museum and university shows across the U.S. His sculpture was also included in a gallery tour of New Zealand to mark the centennial of Joseph Cornell’s birth. He is represented by Hooks-Epstein Galleries in Houston. He has received 16 jurors’ awards, including a major award from the McKinney Avenue Contemporary Museum in Dallas. More of John Sager's work is on view at The Artists Registry.

Advent III

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The LORD has done great things for us
and we are glad in deed.
The LORD has done great things for us
and we are glad in deed.
Psalm 126:4 (repeated twice)

On View: "Baby Steps II" by Heather J. Annis; watercolor, October 21, 2008, 18 ½" x 6 ½".

"Ten years ago, I prepared for my first Christmas in my new apartment. It was a time of deciding which old family traditions to preserve, and what new ones to create. I was between church homes and not actively seeking a spiritual practice or giving much thought to the message of the season. Nevertheless, in the midst of this bustling season of anxiety and anticipation, it occurred to me that perhaps I ought to slow down and pay attention.

"My landlords lived in the apartment below my own; their daughter was nearly a year old at the time. Eyeing an empty baby food jar in the recycling bin one evening, it came to me that I had always loved Advent candles, yet they had never been part of my celebration, short of seeing them lit in church growing up. I snagged the jar and asked my landlady if she might save me three more. These I discovered, freshly washed, sitting on the stairs to my second floor apartment the next day. Placing purple and pink votives in these makeshift candle holders, I arranged them in a row next to the television and lit them on the appropriate Sundays. It was a start.

"The next year, being more settled and in a better position financially, I decided it was time to replace the jars with something more "grown-up". I proudly purchased a fancy set of frosted glass candle holders neatly held by a decorative stand. It was not at all the same. After a couple of weeks of frowning at it from across the room, I rummaged around my front hall closet, producing four empty baby food jars. Something had kept me from throwing them away. Into the hall closet went the frosted glass votive holders (which were sold in a yard sale the following summer). From then on, my humble display has been a staple of my Advent tradition.

"Ten years later, I realize these jars are a metaphor for the spiritual life. We begin with only the dimmest inkling of faith, faith that needs to be contained and consumed in small servings. The spiritual journey is neither fancy nor neat and it cannot be rushed. Even when we think we "have it," we become sharply aware that our movement toward divine encounter occurs only in baby steps. We must be patient with ourselves and with our baby food jars. Christmas and Christ will always come for us; may Advent be for us a tiny taste of the coming light." ~Heather Annis

About the Artist: Heather is an active member of St. Martin's Episcopal Church in Providence, RI. She is currently completing a Masters degree in Theology and the Arts at Andover Newton Theological School. Her main interests lie in community arts and participatory aesthetics. Heather works in a variety of media, including watercolor, pencil, collage, crayon, marker, and graphic design. Heather Annis is an exhibiting artist member of The Artists Registry.

Advent IV

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Arise, O LORD, into your resting-place, *
you and the ark of your strength.
Let your priests be clothed with righteousness; *
let your faithful people sing with joy.
Psalm 132:8-9

"Light can be a mystery. Is the light at the end of a tunnel a sign of hope or a light from an oncoming train? For me, the light I have seen in and around church spaces has always been a source of comfort and hope: whether it was a light from a small votive candle, the reflection of color as the sunlight shines through a stained glass window, or the welcoming light on a winter's evening." ~ Pat Smith

On View: Light Through Glass, Photography by Pat Smith. October 2008.

About the Artist: Pat Smith is a resident of the Diocese of California and a founding member of the ECVA San Francisco Chapter. She is an Exhibiting Member of The Artist Registry. She writes, "Photography has been a lifelong hobby including 35 mm and digital."

Dominus Illuminatio Mea

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"Creativity examines nuances and mysteries that hide behind events and concepts, to include the human heart and mind. Only when we are willing to quit "knowing" and explore those hidden variables are we willing to step up to a creative exchange of fantasy for the brilliant glitter of truth. To me this is illumination. We ask for illumination, but I'm not sure we really want it because it can hurt so bad while it hurts so good. Whichever way it hurts, it does thrill. But this examination of mystery has to be courageous enough to overpower fear or we will stay in the fantasy of darkness through lies, laziness and psychological defenses that numb and destroy us bit by bit over time. Do we really want illumination? Do we have enough courage to face the light?" ~ Jan Neal

On View: Dominus Illuminatio Mea, Photography by Jan Neal. October 2008.

About the Artist: Jan Neal is ECVA Director of Exhibitions. She blogs at Digital Art Advocate. She is a member of the Diocese of Alabama, and an Exhibiting Member of The Artist Registry.

Timkat and the Ark of the Covenant

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As newspapers report on conflicts and unprecedented alliances between African and North American Anglicans, a group of priests and laypeople from the Diocese of California are reaching out and learning more about African Christianity. The current exhibit of photographs on view at Gallery 1055, 1055 Taylor Street in San Francisco, documents their encounter with the Ethiopian Church, one of the most ancient forms of Christianity. During Timkat 2006 (The Feast of the Epiphany), these California pilgrims traveled to Ethiopia where they met ordinary believers, monks, priests and the Patriarch Abune Paulos. They read icons and prayed in the holy churches of Lalibela, St. George’s Cathedral in Addis Ababa, Debre Berhan in Gondar, St. Mary’s in Axum and in the monasteries of Lake Tana. They looked for what we share in common as Christians widely separated by our culture and daily life. The current exhibition, Ethiopia Calling, shares their discoveries.
~ Courtesy of diocal.org

The artist is documentary photographer Malcolm C. Young. He writes, "The Lilly Foundation provided a grant that made it possible for our family to explore Africa in 2007. We visited old friends and made many new ones, but the centerpiece of this adventure was our pilgrimage with other Bay Area priests and laypeople to Ethiopia for Timkat, the Feast of the Epiphany.

"Many twelfth century Europeans believed in the myth of Prester John and his distant, peaceful kingdom, at one with itself and surrounded by Muslim nations. I felt drawn to Ethiopia in large part because of my own myth. I wanted to experience the holiness of God in Christ outside the context of European and North American culture. I, perhaps unreasonably, hoped to draw nearer to the heart of Christianity by reaching beyond the culture that so deeply influences my experience of the world. This was not a missionary trip or for the purpose of relieving poverty or suffering. We traveled as pilgrims and found our faith deepened.

"To understand how Ethiopian Christians practice their faith we learned the stories that orient them. We read histories about failed European colonial efforts to suppress the church and about Ethiopian Christological controversies in the Middle Ages. We heard stories about the saints who built one of the first Christian kingdoms in the world and about the Axumite Empire that controlled Red Sea trade in the years after Christ’s birth. The Patriarch of the Ethiopian Church told us that Christianity began when Philip baptized the Ethiopian eunuch in 41 CE (Acts 8:27). We encountered important traditions inspired by the Hebrew Bible. New friends told us how the Queen of Sheba went to Solomon’s court and how Menelik, the son she had with him, brought the Ark of the Covenant to Ethiopia.

"In our church Epiphany commemorates Jesus’ baptism, the journey of the magi and the coming of Christ’s light into the world. At Timkat Ethiopians also celebrate God’s generosity in giving them the Ark of the Covenant. Each church brings out its ark to public gathering places where thousands of people receive blessings with holy water. The Ethiopians we met did not seem to regard themselves as God’s chosen people, but they did have the strong sense that God has especially blessed them.

"This experience of holiness inspires the striking piety that we witnessed as visitors. In California only a few people in their twenties worship in Episcopal churches. In Ethiopia it is not uncommon to see young people kissing the doors, walls and gates of churches. The young people we talked to were embarking on arduous pilgrimages. They fasted regularly. They sought out blessings by monks and priests who carry ornately designed hand-crosses. They removed their shoes and wore special garments in church.

"For most Episcopalians today a church’s holiness comes from the gathered body of believers who are created in the image of God and blessed by the spirit of Jesus. In Ethiopia, the presence of the ark makes the church holy. This in part explains why so many churches have circular or octagonal designs and concentric regions of holiness expanding from the ark at the center. Genuflection, prostration, dancing, loudly-chanted prayers, processions, a strong reliance on rhythm and drumming make church a more physical experience in Ethiopia.

"A few days before we left home, Ethiopia invaded Somalia. This reminded us how political realities always influence the religious situation. When we asked the patriarch why young people in his country have such a strong faith, he talked about poverty, the terrible effect that AIDS is having on society and also about the communists who controlled the government until a few years ago and sought to suppress religion.

" If you are interested in reading the journal we kept in Africa or seeing other pictures you can find them at www.malcolmcyoung.com"
"Ethiopia Calling" is on YouTube here

~ Malcolm C. Young

About the Artist Malcolm C. Young is a photographer, theologian, and Episcopal priest in the Diocese of California. Educated at U.C. Berkeley and Harvard, he currently serves as the rector of Christ Episcopal Church in Los Altos. He is the author of the forthcoming book The Spiritual Journal of Henry David Thoreau (Mercer, 2009).

Restoration of the Spirit

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Eglise Saint-Jean Baptiste de Bourbourg
Chapel of Light/ Chœur de lumière
More images here

"A Jewish atheist from North London might not appear to be the obvious choice to restore a medieval French chapel. But Sir Anthony Caro, who has made his name from works of steel rather than stone, has been given the job of restoring the war-damaged Roman Catholic church of Saint-Jean-Baptiste de Bourbourg, near Dunkirk in northern France."

Ruth Gledhill of the The Times (UK) continues, "However, when you see what the 84-year-old former pupil of Henry Moore has done with light, water, steel and wood you appreciate the logic of the commission, for this is not so much a repair job as a work of art. The church was a victim of friendly fire: according to local legend, during the Second World War, a British pilot on his way home suddenly came to the awful realisation that his plane was going to crash. Rather than land on the houses, he steered his aircraft at the church, crashing into the choir end of the nave. The main body of the church was restored but the choir was left in ruins. " Read her entire Nov 8 2008 article in The Times online here.

Caro's agent in London, Annely Juda Fine Art, eleased this information in a press release to coincide with the chapel's dedication in October 2008," Over a period of several years, Anthony Caro has been working on a major series of sculptures and architectural features to form the restoration of a chapel at Bourbourg in Northern France, about 12 miles east of Calais. The 'Chapel of Light' adjoins the Church of St Jean de Baptiste.

"During World War II, a damaged English aircraft crash-landed on the roof of the church in order to avoid the houses in the town, and set it on fire. The church itself was restored, but the choir was separated by a wall from the body of the church and left in ruins until ten years ago.

"Caro was commissioned by the French Ministry for Culture and Communication to make a sculptural installation that would bring new life to the redundant choir. Specifically for the project he has designed and built two huge oak towers each about 18 feet high. These towers are to be used for musical performances and to allow exploration of the church space. Caro has also made a concrete baptismal font and a spectacular series of steel, wood and terracotta sculptures to fill a series of niches in the walls of the apex of the choir. Various other sculptures complete the east and west naves, linked through a doorway to a large exterior sculpture in corten steel. The sculptures follow the themes of The Creation (relating to the baptismal font) – culminating in The Paradise Garden.

"Anthony Caro recognises that this monumental project is an exceptional opportunity for an artist. He stated, ‘The light in the church is wonderful and it is such a privilege as an artist to be given such an entire space to work with’. Not since Matisse’s Chapel in Vence has another artist been given this opportunity in France. "

On View: Choeur de Lumiere (Chapel of Light) by Sir Anthony Caro. Scupture, 2008. Installed in the war-damaged Roman Catholic church of Saint-Jean-Baptiste de Bourbourg, near Dunkirk in northern France.

Hat Tip to Episcopal Cafe ace reporter, Ann Fontaine.

Art and The Recovery of Silenced Voices

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On View: Parade of Humanity: Border Milagros by Alfred J. Quiroz. Mexican side of the border, Nogales, Sonora, Mexico, installed 2004. Photo courtesy of the artist.


Theological Aesthetics and The Recovery of Silenced Voices

Cecilia González-Andrieu, Ph.D.
Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles CA

In March 2004 something unexpected appeared along a stretch of land the Tucson Weekly called “an ugly wound cutting some three miles across Nogales”[1]. In a moment of intense incongruity, several large enigmatic figures materialized on the Mexican side of the fence separating the U.S. from México.

“The wall is military surplus,” explained the newspaper noting its war-like nature, “made of corrugated helicopter landing pads that U.S. troops once laid out in Vietnam’s jungles and in Kuwait’s deserts. The color of an ugly bruise, its sickly green merges with gun-metal gray. The perfect canvas, in other words, for a giant piece of political art.”[2] We, of course, know what these enigmatic figures are…they are milagros. And we know they are profoundly complicated, much beyond “political art.” I begin with this work that the art world calls “public art” but we might more accurately call “popular religion as public art” to give specificity to my proposal.

A proposal advocating the recovery of silenced voices is nothing new to anyone working in the field of Latino/a theology. We are all, in some way, actively involved in this work. We know that a commitment to our quehacer teológico necessitates searches beyond volumes of overly verbose theology in dusty libraries. We have known this for a long time. What is new about this proposal then?

First, this is an invitation from us (and other so-called contextual theologians[3]) to the wider academic community to adopt a rigorous and productive methodology growing out of our experiences of doing theology. Our ways of doing theology respect the variety of ways that our communities theologize. Second, the invitation has depth and reach because it uses the language of theological aesthetics to connect a variety of discourses and disciplines. Especially between the arts and theology, aesthetics is a recognized common discourse. Beyond this, its adoption inherently challenges and effectively dismantles overly rationalistic paradigms. These very same paradigms, set as they have been as the only normative type of theological discourse, have been used to keep “the other” as “other” silent. Third, the invitation comes with a “how-to manual.” While many of us have indeed been involved in doing this work for years, how to do the work is often a struggle. This methodological proposal seeks to minimize the difficulties posed by such radical interdisciplinarity by first articulating and then carefully systematizing a method to make the work of theological aesthetics more accessible.

The final goal is evident as we again look at the border milagros. We will lift voices that are generally ignored, classified as “folkloric” or “political”, or demoted to the category of “affective religiosity” without regard to their very real theological thickness.

Read the article in its entirety, with illustrations and reference noted, here.

This is an excerpt from Dr. González-Andrieu's article "Theological Aesthetics and The Recovery of Silenced Voices" which was originally published in its entirety inthe electronic Journal of Hispanic / Latino Theology (http://latinotheology.org) 09/02/2008. Reprinted with permission.

About the Author: Cecilia González-Andrieu is Assistant Professor of Theological Studies at Loyola Marymount University. Professor González-Andrieu received her doctorate from the Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley in the areas of Art & Religion and Systematic Theology. Born in Cuba and raised in Southern California Gonzalez-Andrieu is a graduate of Loyola Marymount University where she studied Film, Spanish and Theology. She has been recognized with awards by the GTU, the Catholic Press Association for her regular column, "De Todo Un Poco" in T he Tidings, and the Hispanic Theological Initiative in Princeton.
Dr. González-Andrieu is a member of the American Academy of Religion, the Catholic Theological Society of America, the Academy of Hispanic Catholic Theologians of the U.S., and Alpha Sigma Nu., the Honor Society of Jesuit Colleges and Universities. She collaborates on workshops for faith formation and leadership training at the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, the Dioceses of San Jose and San Diego, and LMU's Center for Religion and Spirituality. Her book collaborations include Presente! U.S. Latino Catholics from Colonial Origins to the Present (Orbis), Camino a Emaús (Liturgical Press), The Treasure of Guadalupe (Rowman and Littlefield), and The Sky is Crying: Race, Class and Natural Disaster (Ausburg).

The Artist's Purpose

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Just as there are many ways of being in a place, there are also many ways of seeing. When we lessen our focus on the immediacy of our personal circumstance, our minds are free to pour themselves empty into our hearts and we wait. Amidst the stillness and motion that we find there, in kairos time we experience a displacement at the center. The vastness of the indwelling Mystery that we encounter begins its dance with the somnambulant spirit of our baptism. And the artist's purpose — our contribution and gift to the life and work of the world — takes wing.

With deep gratitude, the Board of directors of Episcopal Church & Visual Arts expresses its thanks to Episcopal Cafe and to the many generous supporters whose 2008 contributions make possible this work.

On View: Communion by Camilla Armstrong. Oil on linen, 1998. As seen in Visual Preludes 2006.

Artist Sara Claire Chambless

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By Barbara Allen for Episcopal Life

SARA CLAIRE CHAMBLESS is well on her way to a career as a professional artist, but first there’s college. With numerous paintings already hanging in private collections and galleries, she says she knows that full-time work as an artist awaits her. “I could never do art on the side because it consumes me,” says Chambless. “If I had a regular job, I’d start painting and forget to go to work.”

As a child, Chambless was always creating art, but not necessarily drawing. “I made shoes out of paper,” she recalls. In her teen years she read a lot of philosophy, existentialism and world religions and combined that with her own Christianity to merge faith and creativity.

“God directs my work,” says Chambless, who along with her parents is a member of All Saints’, Atlanta. Having worked hard in Riverwood High School’s International Baccalaureate program, she chose Davidson College in North Carolina earlier this year to continue studying a range of academic subjects. It was a perfect fit, she says, because Davidson professors have the same idea she does of the “universal resonance of art.”

While at school, Chambless volunteers Fridays at a Charlotte, N.C., homeless shelter that has an art room. She sees her role as being a facilitator, not a counselor, helping people plan pieces, execute and finish them, sometimes even selling at art shows.

Art as healer
“Doing art helps you face issues you may not be able to directly,” she says. In this setting, Chambless has learned just “how important a sense of success is — pride in producing something concrete, when you have little to show for present circumstances. Drawing is calming and gives a sense of ownership and accomplishment,” she says, and art can be a healing experience that allows the artist to have what he or she may not have in reality.

Chambless says she approaches each project with a question. To start an abstract painting, one needs to have a completely blank mind and channel the subconscious, she says.

She cites a piece she did this past summer. Her initial inspiration was the story of the Prodigal Son, so she read scriptures and other writings, even songs and poetry, and her question became “Did Jesus die in vain or is the legacy of second chances still alive today?”

Her volunteer experience with the homeless and refugees gave her an empathy with the son who had lost all. “What’s left when you strip away all your [external] identities?” she asks. Her image for the work became that of a vein, “still so alive, blood still so a part of us.”

For an artist still in her teens, Chambless is quite clear about the connection between faith and art. “God would not have given me this passion if I were not intended to put his gift to [use in] the service of humanity. If I can remain solidly grounded in my direct experience of God, I will continue to create images that have meaning for others, for I am convinced these works have their genesis in a higher source.”

Reprinted with permission. This article, from the February issue of Episcopal Life, originated in Pathways, the quarterly journal of the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta. The writer, Barbara Allen, is a member of St. Patrick's Episcopal Church, Atlanta, and the author of Still Christian After All These Years (Church Publishing, 2003, $8.)

The Art Blog at Episcopal cafe expresses its gratitude to the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta, and editor of Pathways, Nan Ross.

Center for Inter-Religious Community, Learning and Experiences at Stanford

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Stanford is a residential university in Palo Alto California, with over 6100 undergraduates and 4300 graduates living on campus. (Source: http://www.stanford.edu/campuslife/) The Office for Religious Life's new Center for Inter-Religious Community, Learning and Experiences, more simply known as The CIRCLE, is located on the third floor of the remodeled Old Union. It offers a common room, an interfaith sanctuary, a seminar room, a student lounge and a library, as well as offices housing many of Stanford Associated Religions (SAR) member groups. As the shape itself connotes - open and inclusive - The CIRCLE is a safe haven for diversity, worship, ritual, meditation, reflection, and spiritual and intellectual growth.

The Rev. Eliza Linley, Episcopal priest and architect, was brought in as the liturgical consultant for this project. Stanford's CIRCLE commissioned her to make silk hangings for the sanctuary, the lecture hall, and the connecting public spaces - a total of 17 banners, paintings and quilts. Linley hand-painted the furnishings on silk, and Deborah Rasmussen completed the quilting and needlework. Read more here.

Hear Rev Linley speak on "What Matters to Me and Why", Wednesday , February 18, 2009, 12 noon-1 pm, at The CIRCLE, Stanford, Old Union, 3rd Floor. The Stanford speaker series "What Matters to Me and Why" encourages reflection within the Stanford community on matters of personal values,beliefs, and motivations in order to better understand the lives and inspirations of those who shape the University.

On View: Stanford Quad, 2008. Dyes, thread and silk. Painted by Eliza Linley; quilted by Deborah Rasmussen. 10 ft. w x 57" h The arches of the Stanford Quad open here onto deep space. Images brought to us over the years by the Hubble Telescope put us in touch with a cosmic truth: we are stardust; the atoms that make up our bodies were present at the dawn of creation. The stars we see today are echoes of a drama that took place millions of years ago. This perspective gives us a more complete understanding of our place in the universe and our responsibility for the care of our planet.

About the Artist: Eliza Linley has a BA in Art from Smith College. Her work in graphic design and water media led her to the study of silk painting. From her studio in Aptos, California she has received commissions for silk hangings and vestments for churches across the country. She is a founding member of the Board of Directors of Episcopal Church and Visual Arts, and co-producer of Visual Preludes 2003 for The General Convention of The Episcopal Church in Minneapolis. She is a board member of the Center for Arts, Religion and Education, and chairs the board of trustees of the Church Divinity School of the Pacific.

The UN's $23 million Ceiling

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It comes as no surprise to this artist that a new controversy has stirred up at the unveiling of the United Nation's newest art installation, the Barcelo ceiling in the new Human Rights and Alliance of Civilisations Chamber.

Critics state that the millions of Euros used to pay for 100 tons of paint and 20 assistants would have been better spent to alleviate the suffering of the poor, pay for food, health care, and housing. And news reports say that Spain used money from its foreign aid to fund part of its 'gift' to the United Nations.

Supporters of the new ceiling, including UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, say that the creation of the art demonstrates a new breed of innovation that echoes the work of the UN on the eve of the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights.

What do you say?

On View: The Ceiling of the Human Rights and Alliance of Civilisations Chamber, United Nations, Geneva, Switzerland. Artist, Miqual Barcelo. 2008.

About the Artist: Miquel Barcelo, Spain.

Home Page Images: REUTERS/Denis Balibouse November 18, 2008; El País Semanal, Nº 1.675 Domingo 2 de Noviembre de 2008; Arte y Parte, Número 77, octubre/noviembre 2008.

Make a Pilgrimage to Trenton

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The season of Lent is a time for renewal of our spiritual lives. Consider making a pilgrimage to Trinity Cathedral and experience the beauty and power of this sacred art form. Twenty-three exquisite icons will be on view in Synod Hall between now and the first week of Easter.

The word icon is derived from the Greek eikon, meaning an image. Icons are popularly known as the art of Eastern Orthodox Christianity, but they are really much more. Graphically, they illustrate the life of Jesus Christ and his mother, Mary, as well as saints and stories from the Bible and later Christian experiences. Physically and spiritually, icons fulfill a prayerful role in church services and in the lives of the faithful.

Many paintings and objects in Western art have a Christian or religious theme, but they are not icons. Orthodox icons were, and still are, created for prayer and liturgical use in the church and for personal prayers at home or in travel.

In recent years there has been a growing interest in icons in the Western Church, in their spiritual dimension, and in making them. The icons in this exhibition were made by contemporary iconographers Father John Walsted, an Episcopal priest living in Staten Island, Suzanne Schleck, of New Jersey, Ann Sohm of Staten Island, and Lydia McKibbin of New Jersey. Most of the icons in the show are for sale. 25% of all sales go to the Cathedral.

Sponsored by ECVA New Jersey, a Chapter of The Episcopal Church & Visual Arts. Ruth Tietjen Councell, Chair.


Learn more

ECVA New Jersey website
Feature Article on artist Suzanne Schleck at Episcopal Life Online's Art & Soul

Images courtesy ECVA New Jersey, Kanuga Conference Center, and John Walsted Icons.

LAMENT – The Stations & Other Images of the Cross

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LAMENT – The Stations & Other Images of the Cross

An Exhibition
Washington National Cathedral
Pilgrim Observation Gallery, 7th floor
February 24–April 11, 2009

The exhibition features twenty of Margaret Adams Parker’s Laments, woodcuts which treat subjects as diverse as genocide in Darfur, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder among combat veterans, and the consequences of unsafe drinking water in the developing world. These moving images of suffering bracket Parker’s stark black and white images of the fourteen traditional Stations of the Cross.

The exhibition is open daily through April 10th, from 10am to 5pm.

Parker writes, "In creating the Stations of the Cross my goal was to convey the physical and spiritual weight of Christ’s Passion.  Working on these images – across the span of 10 years – constituted a powerful meditation on the ways that the incarnate God suffers with us and for us.  That experience intensified my sensitivity to suffering and has led, quite directly, to the creation of the other Laments. I hope that, as the Stations allow us to participate in Jesus’ journey to the Cross, so the Laments call us to witness to the world’s suffering and then stir us to respond." 

About the artist
Margaret (Peggy) Adams Parker is a sculptor and printmaker.  Her sculptures include MARY, installed in the Cathedral College and churches across the country, and Reconciliation, depicting the parable of the prodigal son, at Duke Divinity School. Her sculpture, Grieving, was among six final designs considered for Alexandria’s Contrabands and Freedmen’s Cemetery Memorial. Her woodcuts accompany Ellen Davis’ translation, Who Are You, My Daughter? Reading Ruth through Image and Text;  her set of 15 woodcuts, WOMEN, is in the collection of the Library of Congress; and African Exodus serves as frontispiece to the UNHCR publication, Refugee Children.  Parker is currently depicting the Communion of Saints, life-sized figures to be etched onto glass, for St. Agnes Catholic Church, Shepherdstown, WV.  Parker has served as adjunct instructor at Virginia Theological Seminary since 1992.  She writes and lectures widely on the church and the visual arts and served as curator for the most recent ECVA exhibition: Light of the World.  www.margaretadamsparker.com

Events to Attend
* Sunday, March 15, 2 to 4pm : Reception with artist Margaret Adams Parker Open to the public
* Sunday, March 15, 3pm : Artist’s talk Open to the public
* Friday, March 13, 6 to 9pm : The Way of the Cross: A Lenten Pilgrimage with artist Margaret Adams Parker Contact 202-537-2373 for registration and fee
or pilgimages@cathedral.org

On View: to have seen what I have seen by Margaret Adams Parker, 2006, woodcut over collagraph with Solarplate etchings, 23” x 17”.
This print is based on the experiences of the artist’s son during his medical school rotation in the psychiatry ward in a VA hospital. Most of his patients were Viet Nam vets, although a few had served in Iraq, but their common problem was their inability to block out their memories of war.

The title is taken from Shakespeare’s Hamlet. It is a fragment of Ophelia’s lament as she observes Hamlet’s feigned madness: “O, what a noble mind is here o’erthrown…O woe is me/ to have seen what I have seen…” Ironically, while Hamlet is sane, Ophelia herself goes mad.

Tender, Poignant Grief

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[Episcopal Life] The finest works of one of the most fascinating and enigmatic Dutch artists of the 17th century is on exhibit until April 26 at the Milwaukee Art Museum. The collection of 45 paintings of Jan Lievens, including The Lamentation of Christ and Samson and Delilah, as well as a selection of his drawings and prints, have been drawn from collections across Europe, England and America.

In this exhibition, the work of Lievens, a forgotten Baroque painter, is free from Rembrandt's shadow, which often eclipsed his work. Born one year apart, the two Dutch painters worked closely together early in their careers, painting one another's portraits and learning from the same teacher, Pieter Lastman. They explored similar subjects, and they influenced one another's styles. More>


Jan Lievens’ Enigmatic Career and Relationship with Rembrandt Van Rijn are reconsidered in an exhibition at the Milwaukee Art Museum. Jan Lievens: A Dutch Master Rediscovered February 7–April 26, 2009, at Milwaukee Art Museum, 700 N. Art Museum Drive, Milwaukee, WI 53202. 414-224-3200: visitor services, mam@mam.org Organized by the National Gallery of Art, Washington, in association with the Milwaukee Art Museum and the Rembrandt House Museum, Amsterdam. Laurie Winters, curator of earlier European art, is the organizing curator at the Milwaukee Art Museum.

On View: The Lamentation of Christ, Jan Lievens, ca. 1640. Oil on canvas. Bayerisches Staatsgemäldesammlungen, Munich, Alte Pinakothek.
Also:
Jan Lievens, Samson and Delilah, ca. 1628. Oil on canvas. Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.
Jan Lievens, Self-Portrait, ca. 1629–1630. Oil on panel. Private collection.

Gifts

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Gifts - An Open Studio Exhibition
sponsored by Episcopal Church & Visual Arts
encouraging visual arts in the life of the Episcopal Church since 2000
www.ecva.org

ECVA's current exhibition invited member artists to present their best work with the one distinction that the work be new to ECVA. So in 'Gifts' you will see the artists' best faces put forward, as they open their studios to us with their favorite and most moving works to date.

About the Artists: The Artists Registry members are individuals and groups who work at the intersections of art and faith. Registry members include artists, clergy, musicians, cathedrals, and congregational art groups.

On View:
- above and in the homepage masthead: "Peace" by Lucy Janjigian. Acrylic, January 2007, 36 x 24 inches.
- in Daily Episcopalian: "Cause of Our Joy" by C. Robin Janning. Mixed-media, February 2009, 11 x 14 inches.
- in Speaking to the Soul: "Give Us This Day" by Christine Wise. Oils, 2008, 12 x 24 inches.

Connecting Cultures

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Europeana – the European digital library, museum and archive – is a 2-year project that began in July 2007. It will produce a prototype website giving users direct access to some 2 million digital objects, including film material, photos, paintings, sounds, maps, manuscripts, books, newspapers and archival papers. The prototype will be launched by Viviane Reding, European Commissioner for Information Society and Media.

I recommend highly the introductory video that runs on the site announcing Europeana's beta test site. The video is the source for all of the images posted with this story.

The digital content for Europeana is be selected from that which is already digitised and available in Europe’s museums, libraries, archives and audio-visual collections. The prototype aims to have representative content from all four of these cultural heritage domains, and also to have a broad range of content from across Europe. Learn more >

The interface will be multilingual. Initially, this may mean that it is available in French, English and German, but the intention is to develop the number of languages available following the launch.

The development route, site architecture and technical specifications are all published as deliverable outcomes of the project. After the launch of the Europeana prototype, the project's final task is to recommend a business model that will ensure the sustainability of the website. It will also report on the further research and implementation needed to make Europe’s cultural heritage fully interoperable and accessible through a truly multilingual service. The intention is that by 2010 the Europeana portal will give everybody direct access to well over 6 million digital sounds, pictures, books, archival records and films.

Europeana is a Thematic Network funded by the European Commission under the eContentplus programme, as part of the i2010 policy. Originally known as the European digital library network – EDLnet – it is a partnership of 90 representatives of heritage and knowledge organisations and IT experts from throughout Europe. They contribute to the Work Packages that are solving the technical and usability issues and developing the specifications for the prototype.

The Soul's Journey

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The Soul’s Journey – a Mystical Approach to the Stations of the Cross
By Kathrin Burleson

Station III - Jesus Denied by Peter

Then they seized him and led him away, bringing him into the high priest's house. But Peter was following at a distance. When they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat among them. Then a servant-girl, seeing him in the firelight, stared at him and said, 'This man also was with him.' But he denied it, saying, 'Woman, I do not know him.' A little later someone else, on seeing him, said, 'You also are one of them.' But Peter said, 'Man, I am not!' Then about an hour later yet another kept insisting, 'Surely this man also was with him; for he is a Galilean.' But Peter said, 'Man, I do not know what you are talking about!' At that moment, while he was still speaking, the cock crowed. The Lord turned and looked at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said to him, 'Before the cock crows today, you will deny me three times.' And he went out and wept bitterly. — Luke 22

Divine Friend, Fountain of Strength, give me courage to speak the truth and to stand for justice. When I fall short, help me to accept your unfailing forgiveness and give me strength to continue, with you as my unfailing support.

On View at Gallery 1055 through April 16 2009 - The Soul's Journey by Kathrin Burleson. Fourteen paintings, watercolor on paper. View Kathrin's works online at ECVA here>

About the Artist Kathrin Burleson has been making art all of her life and writing since she could hold a pencil. She holds a bachelor's degree in French, and advanced degrees in art and psychology. The common thread in her background and current work is communication – the connections between realms and the bridges between realities. Whether writing words, icons, or painting watercolors, her work explores the sacred and the interconnectedness of all of creation.

Kathrin is an Associate of the Community of the Transfiguration and a founding member of Sts. Martha and Mary Episcopal Mission in Trinidad, California. In addition to painting and writing, she teaches and leads workshops on spirituality and creativity. She and her husband Michael live in Trinidad, where they share their home with Wyckham, an African grey parrot; Raleigh, a tri-color Corgi; Zoe, a very lazy calico cat; and two pygmy goats.

This is How

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as Jesus is pulled
from his earthly tomb
this is how we arise

this new green growth
crawling from the gnarled wood
of our own crosses

as blades of grass
pushing through
the stony path

on Easter


On View - Homepage Masthead and above: Root Crucifix, photograph by Diane Walker

On View - Homepage Daily Episcopalian and Speaking to the Soul: Christ Is Risen, photograph by Barbi Tinder.

Text: C. Robin Janning

As Seen In: Image & Spirit, an ECVA Sketchbook - a journal of images and words that explore life lived in community, where art and faith are a primary focus.

A New Day

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Readers, you asked and The Art Blog has listened!

Many of you wrote to inquire about the pastel swatches of color that appeared on the Cafe homepage above Daily Episcopalian and Speaking to the Soul. So this week, The Art Blog is posting Tinder's full image, "Christ Has Risen."

Tinder's specialty is landscape photography, and her work is exceptional. Tinder's focal point always breeches the known qualities of nature visible to the naked eye, and captures a hairs breath of something more, which she in turn shares with her audience. But how many of you know that Barbi Tinder is a purest? The image that you see is the image that she took - no image-altering, no software manipulation - just photography. Look here to see Tinder's 'When Morning Gilds the Skies'.

On View: Christ Has Risen, photography by Barbi Tinder. You can find Barbi in The Artists Registry, and in Visual Preludes 2006, an ECVA online exhibition that accompanied The General Convention in 2006.

Art and Social Action

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As editor of the Art Blog at Episcopal Cafe, I learn about a lot of ways that art is being used for the sake of goodness. This week I am writing about an organization that is using art to change lives, one person at a time. They are called Life Pieces to Masterpieces (LPTM).

LPTM is a non-profit, arts-based, comprehensive youth development organization, serving boys and young men ages 3 to 21 living in low-income and public housing east of the Anacostia River in Washington, DC. Their program includes art, poetry, and photography that expresses the life experiences of the participants.

The mission of this award-winning organization is to provide opportunities to discover and activate the innate and creative abilities of the members to change life challenges into possibilities. And their outcomes are measurable and impressive. Their website cites these statistics:
* Over 90% of LPTM participants have not become involved in the juvenile justice system or fathered children
* Approximately 90% have shown improved behavior at home and in school
* 75% have significantly increased their overall GPA
* LPTM Apprentices have created over 1000 pieces of art over the past 11 years, exhibited locally, nationally and internationally, including The World Bank, Children's Hospital, the Smithsonian, and charitable foundations throughout Washington, DC. and FIDDEM in Paris, France

LPTM’s continuing goal is to nurture, embrace, encourage, and elevate African American boys and young men. Daily participation in LPTM’s artistic, academic, spiritual, and mentoring activities help turn the many challenges in the lives of these boys into opportunities for success, self-reliance, and resiliency.

Healing Wounds One Color at a Time

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Contemporary artist Ross Bleckner is interested in the human states of memory and loss. Through his use of 'soft-focus ambiguity', Bleckner's paintings often initiate a dialogue within the viewer. And his exhibitions are exceedingly worthwhile.

Bleckner's imagery leaves room for the viewer at the table of interpretation. In this way Bleckner invites the kind of collaboration with his audience that is essential for art to breath on its own. If Bleckner's paintings stand on their own outside his New York studio, it is because Bleckner bridges his abstraction with just the right amount of realism. He gives his audience opportunities to connect with their own experience and ideas. A student of Chuck Close, he has solo exhibited at Mary Boone Gallery NY, SF MoMA, the Milwaulkee Museum, the Carnegie Museum, and the Guggenheim, to name a few. Bleckner has also participated in numerous international shows both solo and group, including the Guild Hall Museum East Hampton NY and the Kunsthaus Zurish Switzerland.

“A spiritual search in art is looking for meaning outside of yourself”
- Ross Bleckner.

Bleckner is also interested in social justice. Earlier this year he brought art materials with him when he traveled to Uganda. Once there he worked with children from Uganda's war-torn Gulu region, introducing them to expression through color and brush. The New York Times tells the story here. Paintings from that trip will be auctioned at a benefit this spring in conjunction with the announcement of Bleckner's appointment as Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.


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On View: Top: "Birdland", 2000, Oil on Linen, 96"x96", by Ross Bleckner. Courtesy of Ross Bleckner. Above: "Inheritance", 2003, Oil on linen, 72" x 72", by Ross Bleckner. Courtesy of Ross Bleckner.

Santera, Saint Maker

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Catherine Robles Shaw is an artist who learned about 'santera' as a child. She writes, "My first exposure to this art form came when, as a child, I visited the churches in the San Luis Valley. My family had been among the first settlers in the Conejos land grant and lived in Mogote and Las Mesitas, Colorado. After visiting old churches in Chimayo and northern New Mexico, as an adult, I came to realize the meaning of the little retablos that had been in our family. In 1991, I began making retablos for my family and friends. Then in 1995, when I was admitted into the Spanish Market, I became a full time artist."

Her award-winning work has been documented in a short film, viewable here.

Robles Shaw continues, "As a Santera (Saint Maker), I hope to preserve some of the unique traditions of my Hispanic culture. Retablos are the story tellers of my ancestors. They are the natural extension of the beauty and simplicity of our Spanish lives. My husband, Michael and I aspire to represent our work with as much historic accuracy as possible.

"My art process uses the same materials that were used in the 18th and 19th centuries. Retablos are flat hand carved wooden boards made from local woods, such as pine and aspen. Bultos are three dimensional carvings made of cottonwood root and local woods. Next I coat the piece with gesso, which is made from gypsum and rabbit skin glue. This is the foundation for the natural paints. I use plant and insect extracts as well as mineral colored earth’s for my paints. The painted piece is then coated with the Pinion Sap Varnish which is made by dissolving pitch nuggets in grain alcohol (mula). The finished pieces are waxed and prepared for display. Each piece is one of a kind."

On View: The Passion Altar Screen Installed in Grace Episcopal Church, Carlsbad, NM by Catherine Robles Shaw

See more of Catherine Robles Shaw's work In: Gifts 2009 An Open Studio Exhibition of The Artists Registry, a division of ECVA.

An Artist's Affinity with the Past

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“I am interested in emulating the art of other epochs with which I feel an affinity, and without apology,” says Ruth Weisberg. Weisberg’s appreciation for the history of art is a particularly intimate one, as seen through the lens of her own experience as a painter-printmaker. Implicit in Weisberg’s work is the assertion that contemporary art is not separable from the art of earlier periods. She says: “Art history becomes part of the imaginative life of the artist; we are in what I call a ‘dialogue’ with the past.”

Weisberg’s dialogue with Cagnacci’s masterpiece began in 2006. Contemplating this painting, Weisberg created a series of more than 20 paintings, monumental-size drawings and monotypes. Cagnacci’s ambitious pictorial narrative weaves together a number of emotive themes, including repentance, anger and the triumph of virtue over vice—all of which were topical subjects during the Catholic Reformation of the 16th and 17th centuries. Weisberg explores and transforms these themes through the tradition of figurative art and the personal arena of memory and relationships. Indeed, she depicts herself and her family members as Cagnacci’s characters. In so doing, the artist reconfigures the emotional power of a specific reference by modifying it through her own beliefs and experiences.

~ from the press release for Ruth Weisberg: Guido Cagnacci and the Resonant Image , organized by Gloria Williams Sander, Curator, Norton Simon Museum. On view concurrently to Ruth Weisberg was Under the Influence: Art-Inspired Art, a complementary exhibition that explores the ways in which artists have been influenced by and responded to the works of others. More than 45 artworks from the Norton Simon collections were featured in the exhibition.

On View: Top, Martha Rebuking Mary for her Vanity by Guido Cagnacci, after 1660, Oil, Norton Simon Museum of Art, Pasadena, CA; bottom, “The Blessing,” 2008, Ruth Weisberg, Oil and mixed media painting on canvas 80" x 96".

Soldier + Citizen

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If we are not careful, when we use the word 'war' we unconsciously depersonalize a complex set of events, humanly made and humanly lived. War is composed of acts of bravery and courage, senseless destruction and depravity, physical and mental injury, costly and at times unachievable rehabilitation, loss of life, civilization and history, the reclaiming of justice, small victories, monumental defeats, un-rightable wrongs and ungrateful beneficiaries.

Photographer Suzanne Opton removes the whitewashing from the some of the tidiness of the word 'war.' She photographed American soldiers returning to Fort Drum between tours of duty in Afganistan and Iraq. She then traveled to Amman, Jordan, where she photographed Iraqis who fled their homes since the US-led invasion.

Ms. Opton's 'Soldier + Citizen' project was been featured in Witness: Casualties of War at Stephen Cohen Gallery, Los Angeles. Her Soldier Billboard Project was blogged here at Episcopal Cafe.

The Art Blog joins with the staff of Episcopal Cafe in remembering with deep gratitude and abiding thanksgiving those who have given their lives so that "the freedom of the human spirit shall go on."

The Pipe and The Cross

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An Interview with Ms. Kaze Gadway
Lay Diocesan Youth Minister
Episcopal Church of St. George
Holbrook to Winslow, AZ

by Sue Reynolds

Ms. Kaze Gadway works with at-risk Native youth ages 12-18 from several parishes in Arizona’s Northeastern high plateau country. It’s an area of dying towns. The economy’s railroad lifeblood has drained away, leaving an already-challenged Native population struggling with deepening poverty, domestic violence, addiction and continuing racism.

She observes, “Native ceremonies give an important spiritual connection to the whole community.”

The youth Gadway works with are in Probation Court, or Juvenile Detention, or they’re calling her for a ride home from the hospital after a severe beating from a relative, because their parents are drunk, broke or both.

The youth are mainly Navajo, Hopi, Kiowa. They are from St. Paul's in Winslow and St.George's in Holbrook.

50 are in a recovery addiction program Gadway runs. About 40 come to events – hikes, retreats and music jams – she organizes.

In charge of the only Native American program in the Diocese of Arizona, Gadway believes meeting Native people’s challenges begins with programs, not donations.

Reservation retreats connect youth separated from their Native identity with traditions that rebuild it. Kids visiting the all-Navajo Church of the Good Shepherd see Native culture everywhere in parish life there, and they’re impressed.

Gadway has integrated storytelling – a skill at the heart of Native life – with today’s video and computer technology that teens love.

The result: a grant-funded program put video tools and training in the hands of Native youth who need to discover – and tell – their tribal and personal stories. The movie they made of Native, Hispanic and White “tribes” may not be ready for Sundance, but it’s made a world of difference in how these young Native filmmakers see themselves.

Their new sense of self and growing confidence is powerful medicine. They hope to tell more video stories to heal, about what they know too well: addiction and suicide.

A recent trip sent Native youth to serve the homeless in Southern California soup kitchens. It changed how they see themselves, for the good.

“We’re Native Americans and we’re giving something to someone else,” is how Gadway puts it. They’ve gained dignity from realizing that homelessness isn’t a disease, and that, for some, it’s not a disaster either.

Racism in this region, Gadway says, is unbelievable.

Even today, a high school graduation rite of passage – 30-plus years after the American Indian Movement held Alcatraz and Wounded Knee and got America’s collective attention – is white teens beating up drunken Natives in alleys.

But Gadway looks ahead, gathering music and sound equipment so her kids can jam in the new Drop In center when it’s finished. It will have crafts – like tagging (graffiti) in a safe place – and maybe the tutoring parents want for their kids.

She says, “We take lots of trips. We go to Diocesan Convention, National Convention, so the kids can see alternatives to their own lives.”

About the Author: Sue Reynolds is a documentary photographer based in the San Francisco Bay area. Since 2005, she has photographed and interviewed Native people across the West. Her "Proud People: Nations within a Nation" book, "On the Powwow Trail" article, and slide lectures have touched many and received enthusiastic reviews.


On View:
Blurring Drum Beats, Montana, photograph by Sue Reynolds. This image and two dozen others, are on view at Gallery 1055 through July 24, 2009. Gallery 1055, 1055 Taylor Steret, San Francisco.

Can You Name 5 Women Artists?

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In the film"Who Does She Think She Is?", Director Pamela T Boll brings together the stories of "five fierce women who refuse to choose" between motherhood and working, between partnering and independence, between economics and art.

An interactive website provides all kinds of access to a film synopsis, behind the scenes photos, a 'Fan Map' that is very cool, and more.

Screenings of "Who Does She Think She Is?" are happening around the country. A special web page shows the schedule here.

To schedule a screening at your cathedral or your campus, shoot an email to the co-producers here.

Oh, and the title of this blog post - Can you name 5 women artists? well, can you?

The Highest Form of Hope

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"Making art is the highest form of hope" is how artist Chuck Hoffman describes his work with Genesis Art Studio.

On creating the work on view, Borderless World, Peg Carlson-Hoffman writes: "Inspired by the Creation story in Genesis and the New Jerusalem images in The Book of Revelation, I became aware of what falls “in-between”. Not only the books in the Bible, but what goes on in the “in-between” spaces of my life. My work of late reflects those Holy spaces, where distance between God and me thins, or narrows, and where my relationships become precious and transparent. Exploring the Alpha and Omega in paint becomes a form of prayer and meditation, that in-between place where I go to meet God."

Her collaborator Chuck Hoffman adds : "I believe community creates a space where it is possible to engage truth. Community also presents for those who dare the possibility to become transparent and to interact with each other. This spiritual dimension in turn brings us to Holy ground where we encounter each other, beginning a dialog between the Divine, the artist and the viewer. In this creative, prayerful dialogue I not only connect with creation, but find out about who I am in it, and who I am in relationship to others. For me, making art becomes the highest form of hope. "

He and his partner Peg Carlson-Hoffman are exhibiting artists in 'Gifts 2009', an open-studio exhibition of The Artists Registry. The exhibition was organized by Jan Neal. ECVA Communications Director C. Robin Janning designed and published the online show. Episcopal Life Online carries an informative article by Julia Fleming here.

On View: Borderless World by Chuck and Peg Hoffman. Acrylic on canvas, Sept 2008, 30 x 30 inches.


The Disappeared/Los Desaparecidos

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The Disappeared/Los Desaparecidos

"The word "disappeared" was redefined during the mid-20th Century in Latin America. "Disappeared" evolved into a noun used to identify people who were kidnapped, tortured and killed by their own governments in the latter decades of the twentieth century in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Uruguay and Venezuela. Colombia with its fifty-year civil war and Guatemala with its own thirty-seven-year civil war further expanded the meanings and uses of "disappeared."

"The exhibition contains work by more than fifteen contemporary artists from these countries, who over the course of the last thirty years have made art about the disappeared. These artists have lived through the horrors of the military dictatorships that rocked their countries in the mid-decades of the twentieth century. Some worked in the resistance; some had parents or siblings who were disappeared; others were forced into exile. The youngest were born into the aftermath of those dictatorships. And still others have lived in countries maimed by endless civil war.

"This traveling exhibition, curated by the North Dakota Museum of Art, will be exhibited jointly by the Stanlee and Gerald Rubin Center for the Visual Arts, the Centennial Museum and the Union Gallery, all on the UTEP campus. Campus departments and bi-national community arts organizations will participate in collaborative programming over the course of the exhibition, inviting broad community dialogue on the issues presented. Funded in part by the Lannan Foundation. " Text courtesy of the Rubin and L Galleries and Project Space, University of Texas at El Paso Dept. of Art.

"These artists have lived through the horrors of the military dictatorships that rocked their countries in the mid-decades of the twentieth century. Some worked in the resistance; some had parents or siblings who were disappeared; others were forced into exile. The youngest were born into the aftermath of those dictatorships. And still others live in countries maimed by endless civil war. Disappearance was inevitably linked to torture. Laurel Reuter, curator of the exhibition and director of the North Dakota Museum of Art, was struck by the timelessness and truthfulness of the art. For example, when Identidad, a collaborative installation made by thirteen Argentinean artists, opened in Buenos Aires, three people discovered their long-hidden identities. They had been taken at birth from those who opposed the government and adopted into military families. Through their art, these artists fight amnesia in their own countries as a stay against such atrocities happening again." Text courtesy of the original exhibition website at the North Dakota Museum of Art.

Current show curated by Laurel Reuter
June 18 - September 11, 2009
Rubin and L Galleries and Project Space
University of Texas at El Paso Dept. of Art
500 W. University, El Paso, Texas

On View, Homepage Masthead: Empty Shirt, 1997 diptych by Luis Gonzáles Palma, (Guatemala, lives in Argentina).
One frame contains the frontal image of a Mayan woman, the second, an empty white shirt which stands in for the disappeared husband. Image courtesy of the North Dakota Museum of Art.

On View, Homepage Daily Episcopalian: Luis Camnitzer, (Uruguay, lives in New York). Image courtesy of the North Dakota Museum of Art

On View: Homepage Speaking to the Soul: Luis Camnitzer, (Uruguay, lives in New York) Image courtesy of the North Dakota Museum of Art.

Bold, Daring Iconography

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Artist/iconographer William McNichols dedicated this icon of Matthew Shephard to the memory of the near 1500 gay and lesbian youth who commit suicide each year, and to the countless others who are harmed or murdered for their sexual orientation.

It is common when painting/writing icons for the artist to use a historic model for reference, as Luiz Coelho has written in a two-part series for Daily Episcopalian this week. Without an historic model, McNichols turned to the reports from police who found Shephard bound to a fence post, left for dead, covered in blood, save for the white trails on his cheeks where his tears had fallen.

Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am in distress;
my eye is wasted with grief, my soul and body also.
Strong, as I am, I stumble because of my inequality,
and my bones waste away.
I am the scorn of my adversaries, a horror to my
neighbors, an object of dread to my
acquaintances; when they see me in the street
they turn quickly away.
1 have passed out of mind like one who is dead; I have
come to be like something lost.
Yea, 1 hear many whispering -terror on every side! -as
they scheme together against me, to take my life.
But 1 trust in thee, O Lord, I say, "Thou art my God."
Rescue me from those who persecute me!
I will rejoice and be glad for thy unfailing love,
because thou hast cared for me in my distress
and thou hast not abandoned me
but hast set me free.
~ A Rereading From Psalm XXXI (RSV/NE/SE)

Shephard's tragic story has received consistent attention from the press in the 10 years since the vicious hate crime that took his life erupted the quiet veneer of the Wyoming plain. Episcopal Cafe writer Ann Fontaine has her own reflections on the person of Matthew Shephard, before and after his death here. Fontaine's questions lead me to my own questions about the appropriateness of titling this icon 'The Passion of Matthew Shephard' - simply because of the title's stark similarity to the Passion of Christ. Surely Christ's Passion was quite different from this young man's. Or was it? My inability to measure the suffering of another answers my own questions. And I conclude, for myself, that this use of the word 'Passion' is appropriate when it broadens our collective memory for all those who suffer for the truth of their own identities, regardless of how long that suffering endures.

On View:
Above and Homepage Masthead: The Passion of Matthew Shephard, icon by Fr. William Hart McNichols.
Homepage Daily Episcopalian: Beato Fra Angelico, Patron of Artists, icon by Fr. William Hart McNichols.
Homepage Speaking to the Soul: Jesus Christ Extreme Humility, icon by Fr. William Hart McNichols.

About the Artist: William Hart McNichols has been "drawing and coloring in his room" since he was five years old. In September 1990, he moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico to study the technique, history and spirituality of icon painting (technically "icon writing") with Russian-American master, Robert Lentz. He has also been assisting with sacremental ministry in the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Father Bill lives with his cat, Nino and hens, Rose and Catherine. In January 2007, Father Bill began to work on the Publication Ministry of the Icons. Artist representative and director of daily communications of the ministry is Pamela Scalora.

Read Luiz Coelho's articles, The Sinai Pantocrator: Iconography 101 here and here.

Does LA's Jesus look like Boston's Jesus?

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Art as Liturgical Prophecy

Does the resurrected Jesus look the same in Los Angeles and Boston? Ecclesial art and ritual objects used in the context of congregational life engaged in transformational renewal; must hep make the connection between liturgy and life.

PART I
Baptismal fonts in the ancient world were meant to be gotten into. In some, stairs allow the candidate to enter the water from one end of the pool, and emerge from the other end. Why, then, is the typical twentieth-century font a small bowl mounted on a pillar? Clearly, the washing imagery is lost, as is the element of danger that attends to getting into a body of water.

It is not really surprising that those who craft objects to be used in Eucharistic worship seem intent on softening or even eradicating the symbolic connection between the experience of worship and the experience of life in the world. When attending a Sunday morning service was one of the weekly events on a good citizen's calendar, prophetic encounter was not expected to be a part of the experience. People came to church to be reminded of their need to behave as benevolent people and solid citizens.

From Clay Morris's Art as Liturgical Prophecy, in Visio Divina: A Reader in Faith and the Visual Arts, edited by Mel Ahlborn and Ken Arnold (Leeds, Ma: Leader Resources, 2009)

The Rev. Dr. Clay Morris is Program Officer: Liturgical and Spiritual Resources, Evangelism & Congregational Life Center, The Episcopal Church, and author of Holy Hospitality: Worship and the Baptismal Covenant.

On View: Rock Icons: Arches National Park 6 Mile Marker, By Elta Marie Wilson. In the words of the artist, "“Rock Icons” represents my heart’s spirit in how it perceives the land. The red cliffs soar into the sky with their faces carved by nature peering down upon the passerby. The Icons are so large; the human so small, more in tune with our rightful size in the cosmos. For it is not just the Earth that binds us together, it is our place in the cosmos. ... As we search for community, we can see and sense the Earth. Its inherent spirituality and our shared life with the planet can bring us together. It is our first step toward a global understanding of ourselves. ... As a small part of the ancient practices and traditions that bind us, I make my contribution. All cultures share the Earth and its cycle of life, death, and renewal. “Rock Icons” brings the spiritual, inspiring images of our Earth to our consciousness, reminding all of our humanism and common ground: Ubuntu." From the ECVA Exhibition, "Art as Public Narrative: ECVA Imaging Ubuntu". July 2009. Diane Walker, Curator.

Noah's Got a New Ark

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Start with one cavernous cube. Add two CDs, two flash drives, two monitors, two control decks, 2 miles of cabling, and 2 Leopard Macs. Call in 2 media pros, 2 artists, and 2 musicians.

On View: Backstage at Worship at the 6th General Convention of The Episcopal Church. Photo by Mel Ahlborn.

On the Homepage, Daily Episcopalian: The Ubuntu Reredos, detail. 2009. Digital. Visible, "The Letter M" by Ellen Wiener; "The Earth", courtesy of NASA. Mel Ahlborn, producer.

On the Homepage, Speaking to the Soul: The Ubuntu Reredos, detail. 2009. Digital. Visible, "Jesus Christ" by John Guiliani; "The Letter M" by Ellen Wiener, "Canterbury Cathedral Plan", from G. Dehio and G. von Bezold, Die Kirchliche Baukunst desAbendlandes, Stuttgart, 1887-1902. Mel Ahlborn, producer.

Sacramental Experience

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Art as Liturgical Prophecy

Does the resurrected Jesus look the same in Los Angeles and Boston? Ecclesial art and ritual objects used in the context of congregational life engaged in transformational renewal; must hep make the connection between liturgy and life.

PART II

Sacramental Experience is about people, not objects. Water is made holy in the sprinkling of the congregation. Bread and wone are made holy in the feeding and being fed. Spaces are made holy by the prayerful human activity that characterizes their use. If our life as church is a life of service to all God's children, then the spaes in which we worship and the ways in which we gather must reflect that holy life of service.

From Clay Morris's Art as Liturgical Prophecy, in Visio Divina: A Reader in Faith and the Visual Arts, edited by Mel Ahlborn and Ken Arnold (Leeds, Ma: Leader Resources, 2009)

The Rev. Dr. Clay Morris is Program Officer: Liturgical and Spiritual Resources, Evangelism & Congregational Life Center, The Episcopal Church, and author of Holy Hospitality: Worship and the Baptismal Covenant.

On View: The Mother, By Alysanne McGaffey. In the words of the artist, "The “Mother” was created long before I heard the term, Ubuntu; however this watercolor is part of my Circle Series. I was meditating on the human comedy, our common condition. It addresses our interrelatedness to all, and all beings. I used the Tree of Life, with its root grounding embraced by the Circle, my symbol for Jesus Christ, who holds us all in God’s Love.

Ubuntu, as I am coming to understand it recalls for me the admonition in the Book of Common Prayer, the Holy Eucharist, Rite One, the familiar prayer.

"Hear what our Lord Jesus Christ saith;
Thou shalt love the lord our God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it: thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets. " From the ECVA Exhibition, "Art as Public Narrative: ECVA Imaging Ubuntu". July 2009. Diane Walker, Curator.

Chapel at General Convention

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A quiet hush filled the space set aside for chapel at the 76th General Convention of The Episcopal Church. It was designed for prayer by the Canon Randy Kimmler and the Rev Canon Daniel Ade. Ade, subdean of St John's ProCathedral in the Diocese of Los Angeles, brought in the work of New York artist Simon Carr. Carr's stations of the cross were a collaborative effort between the two men while Ade was posted at St Luke in the Fields, New York City. Kimmler is Warden for St John's ProCathedral, and Missioner for Vocations in the Los Angeles diocese.

Read Sharon J. Tillman's story for Episcopal Life Media online here.

Bridge

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A bridge is a structure built to span a valley, road, railroad track, river, body of water, or any other physical obstacle, for the purpose of providing passage over the obstacle. Designs of bridges will vary depending on the function of the bridge and the nature of the terrain where the bridge is to be constructed. (Source: Wikipedia)

On View: Colorado Street Bridge, photograph by Gabriel Ferrer and Michael Mastsumoto. One of a series. June 2009. As seen in 'Los Angeles Visual Preludes 2009', Gabriel Ferrer, producer.

Jesus and Disciples

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[Hillstream] John Giuliani, the son of Italian immigrants developed an early interest in drawing which led him to study art at Pratt Institute in New York. Soon his religious calling took precedence, and he was ordained as a Catholic priest, temporarily putting aside his art to give his life to the church as a chaplain and priest while continuing to study the humanities.

He earned M.A. degrees in classical literature and art, theology and American Studies. Combining his interests in art and theology he apprenticed with Russian icon master, Vladislav Andreyev, to learn thoroughly that ancient tradition. For fifteen years Giuliani taught Latin, the Humanities and American Film at the Bridgeport Connecticut Diocesan Seminary, at Fairfield University and at Sacred Heart University. During the late 70s Father Giuliani embarked on a new pursuit, founding the Benedictine Grange, a small monastic community in West Redding, Connecticut where he continues to pursue a variety of ministries flowing from the contemplative life.

After years of teaching and nurturing his faith community he returned to painting with an inspired vision and a renewed drive drawing from his intensive love of art. In resuming his painting he began making iconic depictions of Native American peoples as Christian saints. A number of these paintings are installed at churches in the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, also in Rapid City and at numerous institutions throughout the United States.

Asked to explain his decision to portray the faces of the sacred as Native Americans, Giuliani explains:
"As a Catholic priest and son of Italian immigrants I bear the religious and ethnic burden of ancestral crimes perpetrated on the first inhabitants of the Americas. Many have been converted to Christianity, but in doing so some find it difficult to retain their indigenous culture. My intent, therefore, in depicting Christian saints as Native Americans is to honor them and to acknowledge their original spiritual presence on this land. It is this original Native American spirituality that I attempt to celebrate in rendering the beauty and excellence of their craft as well as the dignity of their persons."

On View: Jesus and Disciplies, by John Giuliani, courtesy of Hillstream LLC.

As seen in: The Ubuntu Reredos, created for the 76th General Convention of The Episcopal Church, Anaheim, California.

If DaVinci Had a Baby Sister

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“Like the prayer books they reference, muse upon, and celebrate, her [Ellen Wiener's] paintings submit the confidences of personal experience to a ceremonial protocol that derives from the common day – the rule of light that ordered a monk’s attention from Matins through Lauds and back again, illuminating inwardness by opening within it broad perspectives of vision and reverie. Through the absorptive tissue of symbol, metaphor, imagery and natural forms she has created in her work, the artist invites us into still, small chapels of contemplation. There the Hours unfold solitude, and reflection gives a past and future to all the light the day delivers. These works are landscapes of the timeless day- the “one day, that first day”- that is ever and always the incarnation of attention.

"The layers of visual information she creates - including meticulous botanical vignettes and night skies as well as references to instruments of inquiry and language systems which range from telescopes to Morse code- allow the sacred and the ordinary, the common and the rare, the unseen and the closely observed to exist in the same frame. With their compressed strata of memory, scrutiny, contemporary thought, and forgotten knowledge….she has concentrated her compact works with such careful calibration that they open over time, revealing themselves quietly to an audience of one, in fact, the paintings are best seen exhibited not on a wall but propped on a table, so one can sit and peer into the network of allusions they connect, as one might concentrate on- and enter into- a book. Indeed one must fight the compulsion to pick them up for closer reading.”
From the essay The Still Small Hours by James Mustich, Jr. James Mustich, Jr. was co-founder, and, for twenty years, publisher of the book catalogue, A Common Reader. He is now Editor-in-Chief, Barnes and Noble Review. Courtesy of ellenwiener.com

Ms. Wiener donated the use of her work to The Ubuntu Reredos, a multimedia altarpiece created for the 76th General Convention of The Episcopal Church.

On View: 'Blue History", flat detail, ink and media on paper, by Ellen Wiener.

About the Artist: Ellen Wiener is a visual artist currently working on a series based on Medieval Books of Hours. She holds degrees from Bennington College and Queens College, CUNY, and has taught at the university level since 1985.

Faculty positions include appointments at: Princeton University, Dartmouth College, Queens College CUNY, St. Mary’s Honors College of Maryland, SUNY Stony Brook, Suffolk County Community College, Sweet Briar College, Louisiana State University, and The University of New Mexico. Her work has been shown widely in the United States in many gallery, library and museum exhibitions including 19 solo shows.

She has, by invitation, lectured on her work at The International Medieval Congress in Kalamazoo Michigan, The International Society for Hildegard von Bingen Studies, Haverford College, Brooklyn College, Princeton Theological Seminary, Maryland Art Institute, American University, Long Island University, Swarthmore College and The Institute for Medieval Studies at The University of New Mexico. Her research has involved study at Union Theological Seminary, The New School University in conjunction with The Morgan Library, The Christian Index at Princeton University and The New York Botanical Garden. She is a member of The Custer Institute Observatory in Southold NY.

Ms. Wiener’s work has been reviewed in Art in America, Art Forum, The Village Voice, The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Philadelphia Inquirer. She has received several honors including; The Andrew Carnegie Prize for Painting from The National Academy of Design in NYC, The William Randoph Hearst Fellowship for Creative and Performing Artists and Writers from The American Antiquarian Society, Worcester, Ma., residency grants from The MacDowell Colony, The Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, The Ragdale Foundation, Holy Cross Monastery and stipends from The New York Foundation for the Arts. Courtesy of ellenwiener.com

Polishing the Mirror

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This past weekend I went up to Shaw Island with my daughter to attend a
memorial service for one of her former schoolmates, a 20 year old boy who
died three weeks ago of an aneurysm.

It was lovely to be back on the island, despite the circumstances; lovely to
spend time with my daughter, and heartening to spend an evening with Teddy's
mother, who was a dear friend back in the days when we all lived on that
little island. It was good to hear who Teddy had become; to hear how their
lives have been going and what his mother's plans are for the future.

Teddy's mother is an amazing and admirable woman, a minister in the Church
of Religious Science, and now that her girls are in college she is turning
her home into a bed and breakfast for people who come to Seattle for
treatment for chronic illnesses like Lyme Disease (of which she and her
daughter are also sufferers).

I also had a lot of alone time while I was on Shaw, and I spent much of it
reading "Echoing Silence," a compendium of Thomas Merton's thoughts on
writing. I am still processing, but his writing was absolutely soul-stirring
for me: I felt I'd found my soulmate, I felt a ton of affirmation for what
I've been encountering along the way, and I can see I still have a great
deal to learn on this path. So I thought I'd share this quote from Merton
today: it explains better than I ever could why it is that blogging has come
to mean so much to me. Thank you -- by the way -- for continuing to be
willing readers.

“Writing," says Merton, "is the one thing that gives me access to some real
silence and solitude. Also I find that it helps me to pray because, when I
pause at my work, I find that the mirror inside me is surprisingly clean and
deep and serene and God shines there and is immediately found, without
hunting, as if He had come close to me while I was writing, and I had not
observed his coming.”

Text: Diane Walker, from her blog, Contemplative Photography.

Quote: Thomas Merton, from Echoing Silence, available here in Google Reader..

Image from "A Contemplative Alphabet" by Diane Walker, available through Blurb.

Diane Walker is Exhibitions Director of Episcopal Church and Visual Arts and a contributing artist to The Ubuntu Reredos.

We Are Climbing

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[International Arts Movement]

Reflections of Generosity - Towards Restoration and Peace is the current exhibition on view through September 11 2009 at Fort Drum, Fort Drum NY. The organizing committee states, "Reflections of Generosity ’09 will provide the audience and participants opportunities for remembrance and hope beyond the pain of recent tragedy. It will also encourage soldiers and their families preparing for another deployment to face the coming sacrifices with courage and hope. This exhibition is also dedicated to the memory of the people who lost their lives on 9-11 and to the many soldiers who have given their lives in the ensuing conflicts."

Cafe Art Blog readers may remember Suzanne Opton's 'Soldiers Faces' project (photographs of Fort Drum soldiers) and her 'Soldiers|Citizens' project (US Soldiers and Iraqi Citizens) mentioned here.

On View We Are Climbing, Installation by Charles Westfall.

Artist's Statement by Charles Westfall "...[as an artist] one is taking the material of the world, imposing a set of forms on it in a very concentrated way, to actually reinvest our existence with meaning." - Tony Cragg

"There is an important relationship between physical violence and spiritual force. It’s a complex relationship and one has to be very cautious not to make cavalier statements about it.

"The Civil War, World War II, and for Christians even the instance of Christ’s crucifixion, represent circumstances in which redemption, for nations and for individuals, came at a heavy cost, and only after bloodshed. This does not constitute an endorsement of violence, or of physical force, it is simply my attempt to engage with this very complicated reality – one that service men and women seem to understand intuitively.

"This work is intended to explore the full complexity of this relationship: ascension in the midst of destruction, the wound as a window, and the hope that as “The tumult and the shouting dies, the captains and the kings depart…” we might find our way back toward restoration and renewal."

Additional information about artist Charles Westfall is available at his website, charlesawestfall.com.

Additional information about International Arts Movement is available here.

Dissolving Barriers

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The new exhibition opening at Episcopal Church & Visual Arts this week is titled 'Art as Public Narrative: ECVA Imaging Ubuntu.' Designed as a visual collaboration with the work of TEC's Executive Council, the show's call challenged artists around the country to submit work that illustrated the Zulu concept of Ubuntu.

"Artists have a unique opportunity to dissolve barriers. The images and objects we create serve as both public and personal narrative—a lens through which we observe that which exists both within and apart from us, and as a means by which we can convey both the seer and that which is seen in a distinctively connected way.

"To honor The Episcopal Church’s General Convention theme of Ubuntu, ECVA invited members of The Artists Registry to explore the concept of Ubuntu through an artistic lens, asking them to submit works that 'weave together the threads of your personal and our communal story to create compelling and hope-filled images that will express the meaning and application of Ubuntu.'" ~ Diane Walker, Curator, Art as Public Narrative.

The online exhibition features 36 works of art from artists across the country created with textiles, drawing, mosaic, photography, iconography, watercolor, mixed media, oil, acrylic, digital media, and fiber sculpture. Submissions were reviewed by a committee of jurors: The Rev. Dr Melford "Bud" Holland, The Rev Canon Brian Prior, The Rev Canon Robert Two Bulls Jr, and The Rev Paul Fromberg. You can see their top selections here.

On View above and on the homepage Rain, mixed media by Rara Schlitt.

On View, on the Homepage, in the Masthead: Teaching Photography, photography by Jim Wroten. Why does this image serve as art for public narrative? Wroten explains, " Urban parks provide an oasis of nature and tranquility in the hustle and bustle of modern city life. We can not only enjoy nature, but each other as well, in a relaxed and informal atmosphere. Even in the big city, it is OK to talk to strangers. ... Here, the photographer witnessed the meeting of two individuals: a young boy learning to skate and the older gentleman, an experienced skater. By taking a few minutes to teach the young boy this move, the gentleman put his individuality aside (and removed his earphones) and illustrated Ubuntu: the view that humanity is an inter-connected web that often requires us to reach outside our usual groups and share ourselves with others."

On View, also on the Homepage, Crucifixion watercolor by Alyssane McGaffey.

View the Show Online: Art as Public Narrative: ECVA Imaging Ubuntu, curated by Diane Walker. Jurors: The Rev. Dr Melford "Bud" Holland, The Rev Canon Brian Prior, The Rev Canon Robert Two Bulls Jr, and The Rev Paul Fromberg. The Rev. Fray Toy, Honorary Juror. Exhibition design: C. Robin Janning.

'Say My Name' at Grace Cathedral

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- Holla at Your Savior -
[from the Installation Press Release] ''Say My Name' is a lighthearted musing on the material expression of the spiritual, as well as a meditation on the diametric qualities of the physical and divine realms.

'The installation seeks to echo/mirror the physical form and intention of Grace Cathedral itself - rich materials, elaborate decoration, and massive scale evoking the presence of God and the emotions of faith (while expressing the power of the church and the wealth of its benefactors) - essential qualities of Gothic church architecture. Expounding on the physical form of the cathedral and corresponding church traditions of bejeweled reliquaries, golden Eucharistic chalices, and the kissing of popes' rings, a contemporary manifestation takes shape as a levitating, deity-sized piece. 'Say My Name' also seeks to explore parallels between the church's luxuriant expressions of the spiritual & sacred and contemporary material displays of wealth, power, and import evidenced in popular culture.

'The letters of the nameplate, YHWH, are the transliteration of the ancient Hebrew Tetragrammaton representing God's name. The true pronunciation of God's name has been lost to taboo, time, and translation, but the prevailing interpretation is that 'YHWH' can be extrapolated to 'Yahweh,' and anglicized to 'Jehovah' (further translated by Jay-Z to 'H to the Izz O, V to the Izz A'.)

-----

The site-specific installation 'Say My Name' is the work of artist and photog Adam Wier. It was part of the summer edition of EpiscoDisco, a monthly event where community congregates to enjoy contmporary art, live performance, drinks and DJ's at Grace Cathedral, San Francisco. EpiscoDisco is hosted on the second-to-last Saturday of the month by Reverend Bertie Pearson and curatorial duo Paradise Now.

September's EpiscoDisco features artist Sarah Filley. Her installation, PRAYER ROPE, consists of 300 feet of 12-braid, marine-grade, black rope suspended in the vestibule of the cathedral. Her video piece meditatively documents the effort of counting each prayer knot illuminates the apse. The imagery of this heavy, knotted rope conjures several conflicting associations: from seafaring and military operations to eroticism and rituals of the sacred. In her own words, "The physical act of tying 100 knots in the PRAYER ROPE is a contemplative act, which has a history well beyond my own hands. Maybe we need an over-scaled PRAYER ROPE for our REALLY big sins. Or, perhaps it acts as a public plea for our collective guilt. Or, more poignantly, it may provide a visual reminder of the humility of each of our spirits." Saturday, September 19, 2009, 7-10pm. For more information, contact Paradise Now.

On View: Say My Name, by Adam Wier, installation view. Photograph by Bertie Pearson.

America as a Religious Refuge

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Fleeing Enforced Uniformity

[Library of Congress]
"Many of the British North American colonies that eventually formed the United States of America were settled in the seventeenth century by men and women, who, in the face of European persecution, refused to compromise passionately held religious convictions and fled Europe. The New England colonies, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Maryland were conceived and established "as plantations of religion." Some settlers who arrived in these areas came for secular motives--"to catch fish" as one New Englander put it--but the great majority left Europe to worship God in the way they believed to be correct. They enthusiastically supported the efforts of their leaders to create "a city on a hill" or a "holy experiment," whose success would prove that God's plan for his churches could be successfully realized in the American wilderness. Even colonies like Virginia, which were planned as commercial ventures, were led by entrepreneurs who considered themselves "militant Protestants" and who worked diligently to promote the prosperity of the church."

"The religious persecution that drove settlers from Europe to the British North American colonies sprang from the conviction, held by Protestants and Catholics alike, that uniformity of religion must exist in any given society. This conviction rested on the belief that there was one true religion and that it was the duty of the civil authorities to impose it, forcibly if necessary, in the interest of saving the souls of all citizens.

"Nonconformists could expect no mercy and might be executed as heretics. The dominance of the concept, denounced by Roger Williams as "inforced uniformity of religion," meant majority religious groups who controlled political power punished dissenters in their midst. In some areas Catholics persecuted Protestants, in others Protestants persecuted Catholics, and in still others Catholics and Protestants persecuted wayward coreligionists."
- From Religion and the Founding of the American Republic, an exhibition of The Library of Congress. Available as an online resource here.

On View: above Murder of David van der Leyen and Levina Ghyselins, Ghent, 1554 Engraving by J. Luyken, from T. J. V. Bracht (or Thieleman van Braght), Het Bloedig Tooneel De Martelaers Spiegel. . . . Amsterdam: J. van der Deyster, et al., 1685. Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Library of Congress
This engraving depicts the execution of David van der Leyen and Levina Ghyselins, described variously as Dutch Anabaptists or Mennonites, by Catholic authorities in Ghent in 1554. Strangled and burned, van der Leyen was finally dispatched with an iron fork. Bracht's Martyr's Mirror is considered by modern Mennonites as second only in importance to the Bible in perpetuating their faith.

Also on view, on the Homepage, Speaking to the Soul: A Jesuit Disemboweled John Ogilvie (Ogilby), Societas Jesu, 1615. Engraving from Mathias Tanner, Societas Jesu usque ad sanguinis et vitae profusionem Militans. . . . Prague: Typis Universitatis Carolo-Ferdinandeae, 1675 Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Library of Congress. Jesuits like John Ogilvie (Ogilby) (1580-1615) were under constant surveillance and threat from the Protestant governments of England and Scotland. Ogilvie was sentenced to death by a Glasgow court and hanged and mutilated on March 10, 1615.

Also on view, on the Homepage, Daily Episcopalian:Frightful Outrages perpetrated by the Huguenots in France
Engraving from Richard Verstegen, Théâtre des Cruautez des Hérétiques de notre temps. Antwerp: Adrien Hubert, 1607. Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington, D.C.
In the areas of France they controlled, Huguenots at least matched the harshness of the persecutions of their Catholic opponents. Atrocities A, B, and C, depictions that are possibly exaggerated for use as propaganda, are located by the author in St. Macaire, Gascony. In scene A, a priest is disemboweled, his entrails wound up on a stick until they are torn out. In illustration B a priest is buried alive, and in C Catholic children are hacked to pieces. Scene D, alleged to have occurred in the village of Mans, was "too loathsome" for one nineteenth-century commentator to translate from the French. It shows a priest whose genitalia were cut off and grilled. Forced to eat his roasted private parts, the priest was then dissected by his torturers so they can observe him digesting his meal.

Images and text courtesy of the Library of Congress, www.loc.gov.

Do you see what I see?

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Contemplation frees the organized to set other ways of movement into play. Like love, it is patient. Eventually most come to see it as kind.

Contemplation doesn't keep attendance or score. Whether you wear its colors in the stands or visit occasionally with flowers as though it were a grave, contemplation will treat you like a child, its child.

Contemplation does not accept currency. So you who are well-read, ardent, broken or profound, leave your shoes at the door. You stand on holy ground.

On View: Untitled, by D. Davis. As seen in the 'Los Angeles Visual Preludes 2009', presented to The General Convention of The Episcopal Church, Anaheim. The Rev. Gabriel Ferrer, Producer.

Ceramic Art feeds the Hungry

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A simple meal served in a handmade bowl is symbolic of the minimum calories needed to sustain life and to bring a greater awareness of hunger in our world. The Empty Bowl Lunch, to be held October 16th at the Arizona Center, is celebrating its 19th year in Phoenix and is a partnership between the Arizona Clay Association, WasteNot, and restaurants at The Arizona Center.

Halldor Hjalmarson, a member of Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, was the clay association president during the inception of the event and chaired it during the first five years. Since that time he annually contributes ceramic bowls to the lunch and helps serve during the day of the event. He says the event is "made for charity, and potters take pride in contributing bowls made by their hands and hearts".

Potters contribute the bowls, restaurants provide the food, the Arizona Center provides the space, and WasteNot receives all proceeds. WasteNot feeds thousands upon thousands of hungry people every day. Their trucks and drivers are on the road six days per week, beginning at 6:30am, collecting an average of 5,000 pounds of excess perishable food daily from restaurants, resorts, caterers, grocers and various food purveyors – food that would otherwise be thrown away. They deliver the food the same day to more than 80 diverse agencies that feed the hungry including schools, after-school programs, daycare centers, rehabilitation centers, transition homes and senior facilities.

Patrons select their bowl, contribute $12.00 to WasteNot, are served a simple meal, and keep their bowl as a lasting reminder of hunger in the world. The three hour noon time event generates more than $35,000 in contributions for WasteNot each year.

Halldor Hjalmarson is a Sponsoring Member of The Artists Registry @ ECVA. He may be reached at: hjalmarsonpottery@mac.com

Arts Inspire Action, says Obama

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President Barack Obama has declared October 2009 National Arts and Humanities Month. The Art Blog at Episcopal Cafe wishes to share with you gentle readers some of the President's words, illustrated with images from the National Gallery of Art's "Exploring Themes in American Art: Scenes from Everyday Life" series.

In the official declaration released from the White House press office, the President draws attention to the value of the arts in America's history. "Throughout our Nation's history, the power of the arts and humanities to move people has built bridges and enriched lives, bringing individuals and communities together through the resonance of creative expression. It is the painter, the author, the musician, and the historian whose work inspires us to action, drives us to contemplation, stirs joy in our hearts, and calls upon us to consider our world anew."

Obama's declaration continues, "The arts and humanities contribute to the vibrancy of our society and the strength of our democracy, and during National Arts and Humanities Month, we recommit ourselves to ensuring all Americans can access and enjoy them."

Bravo, Mr. President. And thank you for championing the arts and humanities for today, and for the future.

Click here to download President Barak Obama's Proclamation declaring October 'National Arts and Humanitie Month, 2009" form the White House press office.

Read more about ""Exploring Themes in American Art: Scenes from Everyday Life" at The National Gallery of Art website here.

Editor's Note The images on view this week were created by three American artists, Winslow Homer, George Bellows and Red Grooms. Each man painted scenes from everyday life of the America that they knew. As I was preparing this blogpost, I noticed how little I have in common with Homer, Bellows and Groom. I have never fly-fished from Homer's canoe; I recoil at the thought of attending Bellows' boxing match; and my aesthetic sensibilities are not at all drawn to the naive illustrations of Groom. Yet as an American I share in their heritage and their history. If I do not see reflections of my personal everyday life included in the National Gallery's collection, whose fault is that? It would be mine. And so off to the studio I go.

On View: Homepage masthead and above: Winslow Homer, Casting, Number Two, 1894. Gift of Ruth K. Henschel in memory of her husband, Charles R. Henschel
1975.92.2. Homepage Daily Episcopalian: George Bellows, detail from Club Night, 1907. John Hay Whitney Collection. 1982.76.1 Homepage Speaking to the Soul: Red Grooms, Slushing, 1971. Gift of the Woodward Foundation, Washington, D.C. 1976.56.48 All images courtesy, National Gallery of Art.

Mapping the Miraculous

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Figurative artists illustrate, abstract artists deconstruct, filmmakers shoot and photographers photograph. As art appreciators, we more or less depend on the artists in these categories to stick to their script. We like enough predictability to deliver a sense of the familiar; it's a safety net woven from fulfilled expectation that protects our sensibilities from red-lining too far off center.

I wonder, though, how true the above statements are when examined in the context of faith and the visual arts. Is our spiritual hunger satisfied when we watch a documentary film, or when we view an artist's rendering of Jerusalem circa 5 BC? When the subject of their work is scripture, or the parables of Jesus or personal memoirs of the miraculous, there are just so many directions an artist can go.

Where the spirit does not work with the hand, there is no art. ~ Leonardo da Vinci

DaVinci's statement acknowledges the role of the spirit in the creative activity of the artist. The quote headlines the blog of artist Roberta Karstetter, whose work is on view this week at The Art Blog. Ms Karstetter creates with found objects. Her discipline is known as assemblage art. I am drawn to the 'visible memories' that I see when I spend time viewing Karstetter's work. When I look at a piece of her work, fragments of my own past detach from their neurological anchors, and begin to once again free-associate in my mind. Karstetter provides me with the gift of reflection, and release, of my very human past.

As a body of work, Karstetter reexamines the Christian story from a highly subjective point-of-view. I say hers is a point-of-view worth meeting first-hand. What Karstetter chooses to emphasize with her assemblage art is, I imagine, as much choice as chance. That's the artist's way, that's the creative life, that's spirit at work with the hand. That's art.

On View: Jesus, Light of the World Assemblage by Roberta Karstetter. More information is available at Karstetter's blog, here.

Earning the Audience's Attention

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African-American life in the late 20th century is the focus of artist Kerry James Marshall, recipient of the 2009 Award of Merit in Art from The American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Marshall records the details of the African-American life the he knows. He poses his subjects carefully, drawing from a perspective acquired through years of personal observation. In Marshall's own words, "You can’t be born in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1955 and grow up in South Central [Los Angeles] near the Black Panthers headquarters, and not feel like you’ve got some kind of social responsibility." This is apparent in the work on view in The Art Blog at Episcopal Cafe. In "Watts 1963," Marshall bases each figure on someone that he knows. The figures are fixed, frozen mid-breath within the larger panorama of a canvas that seems to move through time and decay oblivious to the presence of its human inhabitants.

In "Souvenir II" the artist populates a family living room with everyday heroes, personal, civic, social, and musical. Clouds filled with personal saints hover above a sole woman bringing flowers to honor memories and keep vigil over the past. Marshall preserves this moment in time for the future. Marshall brings the audience's attention to what is important to him: the older woman (grandmother?) keeping memories alive, the champions and martyrs of the cvil rights movements, and the nameless faces known only to him in the depths of his own heart.

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On View above and on the homepage in the masthead: "Souvenir II", 1997. Acrylic, paper, collage, and glitter on unstretched canvas, 108 x 120 inches. Addison Gallery of American Art, Phillips Academy, Andover, Massachusetts. Image courtesy Jack Shainman Gallery, New York and Art:21 PBS.

On View above and on the homepage in the above Daily Episcopalian and Speaking to the Soul: "Watts 1963", 1995. Acrylic and collage on unstretched canvas, 114 x 135 inches. St. Louis Museum of Ar, Museum Minority Artists Purchase Fund. Courtesy Jack Shainman Gallery, New York and Art:21 PBS.

Ability and Its Limits

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It is our duty as men and women to proceed as though the limits of our abilities do not exist, wrote Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. The Jesuit priest might as well have been addressing artists directly.

If the artist’s idea begins with a desire to create perfect Beauty as a visual metaphor for God, and if they are not careful, they will be trapped into creating from their own, non-divine ideas of what perfect beauty is. The artist who seeks instead to point to perfect Beauty also faces the handicap of seeking through their own, if merciful, eyes. For both artists, the source of the authentic and the source of the original are the same - perfect Beauty echoing itself within their own heart, seeding an impulse to create. The door to perfect Beauty lies within the artist and the pathway that leads to the door is prayer.

Movements in the art world and the aesthetic choices of the 20th century institutional church have served as often to blur as to clarify the origin of beauty in the divine. In 2009, artists have no clear path to follow in order to build a carreer in sacred fine art or liturgical art that will be self-sustaining. Art schools and academies teach color theory and form as though it occurs in isolation from the human soul. If this will change, if art will see more widespread inclusion in the 21st century church, it will be because the reader has brought about that change.

On View in the homepage masthead and above: High Falls (2008) by Ferris Cook.
2008 Winner of "Gold Prize" Turner Acrylic Paint Competition, Kobe, Japan
Acrylic paint on 3-d wood structure (reverse perspective), 16" x 44" x 6"

On View in the Daily Episcopalian header: Day Dreaming by Patrick Hughes 120 x 248 x 28 cm
On View in the Speaking to the Soul header: Internity by Patrick Hughes, 81 x 190 x 30 cm

Beyond Aesthetics

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At the community level, art participates in securing society's heritage for future generations. It does so by contributing to the ongoing remembrance of the near and distant past, and through current practitioners' re-interpretation of community memory into their own original works. That which a community values most is often memorialized through monument, ritual, and public display.

For the individual within a community, art offers a means of recognition and self-identification within a larger body. On a global scale, art offers a visual language for cross-cultural appreciation of the varied expressions of religious devotion and piety in our current global narrative.

Formation programs that intentionally increase the use of visual arts assist participants in developing a visual sensitivity to what they see, both inside and outside of their local church community. Potential intelligences that develop from arts-inclusive programming include:
1) recognizing the elements and principles of design;
2) building a visual vocabulary that relates to inter-personal relationships, scripture, worship, and spirituality;
3) inquiring about the life and times of artists and the circumstances within which a particular piece of art was created;
4) developing personal preference that is distinct from community;
5) exercising the right to choose whether they like or do not like a piece of art; and,
6) developing a personal approach to extracting meaning from a piece of art through meditation, journaling, discussion, and other methods of appreciative inquiry.

Considering the growth of media into contemporary society, the pastoral implications of visual literacy upon community membership are indisputable. The best arts programming is local and organic. If you have an arts program in your area, the Art Blog would like to hear about it. Send us a note about what's working, what isn't, what's hoped for, and what's planned. We'll feature a selection in upcoming posts in 2010. Write to mahlborn@ecva.org

On View: The paintings of Ruth Councell. Above, Fear Not, 2008. Oil on canvas, 36" x 36".

About the Artist: Ruth Councell has been a freelance artist for over thirty years. She studied art at the University of Redlands, California, and at the College of Creative Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara. She has worked in graphic design, and is the illustrator of six books for children, several of which earned national honors. She is currently co-chair of the New Jersey Chapter of The Episcopal Church and Visual Arts, and this fall will be teaching at Paul Robeson Center for the Arts in Princeton.

Grace, Variously Explained

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Full of Grace
An Exhibition for Advent 2009
Moses Hoskins, Curator
Diane Walker, ECVA Exhibitions Director
C. Robin Janning, ECVA Communication Director, Exhibit Design

at ECVA

Featuring the work of Dick Adams, Roger M. Beattie, Edward Beckett, Kathy Bozzuti-Jones, Betty Clarke, Ferris Cook, Marilyn Dale, Gerard Di Falco, Phoebe Farris, Terrence Fine, Chuck + Peg Hoffman, Margaret A. W. Ingram, C. Robin Janning, Roberta Karstetter, Mary Melikian, Mary Jane Miller, Joseph Neiman, Elizabeth Porter, Robin Rule, Suzanne Schleck, Rara Schlitt, Howard Schroeder, Amy Bright Unfried, and Vanessa Wells.

View the exhibition online here.

On View: Bubbles by Kathy Bozzuti-Jones. Learn more about artist Kathy Bozzuti-Jones in her artist profile at The Artist Registry @ ECVA.

On the Homepage: work by Kathy Bozzuti-Jones, Betty Clarke and Marilyn Dale.

Mimesis of the In/Sensible

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When art critic Christopher Knight said "The most challenging art always makes demands on our cozy assumptions," he was commenting on The Central Garden at The Getty Center Los Angeles, designed by artist Robert Irwin. Knight made his point well - the definition of art, or actually Art (capital 'A'), is so broad that it may (it must?) include Muhlenbergia rigens, Colocasia esculenta, and Dalechampia dioscoreifolia.

The Central Garden at the Getty further opens up our definition of art when artist Irwin describes his Getty commission as "a sculpture in the form of a garden aspiring to be art." Irwin was fully aware that in this work he was attempting to breach existing boundaries of 'Art.' And he labored through anyway, facing critics and commissioners with equal disinterest while tending to his primary task - the work of the artist. The result speaks for itself. The Getty's Central Garden succeeds in its mimesis of the sensible world, providing its audience with passive invitation into the insensible realities that mark art's finish.

When the angels of the Lord come to visit Abraham to tell him of Sarah's motherhood, Abraham is sitting in the opening of his tent. As the angels tell the old man that his elderly wife will bear a son, the Genesis story tells us that she too is sitting in this same opening of the tent, this same point of passage between the personal and the communal. I propose that this metaphoric place of entrance is shared by artists, architects, theologians and priests - all are united in that through their work they create entrance, they attempt to breach existing definitions and boundaries. They aspire to build openings within openings.

On View : various pieces from 'Full of Grace', the current exhibition at ECVA. Seen above, Here I Am, by Ferris Cook. Gold leaf and acrylic on wood. "But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven, and said, "Abraham, Abraham!" And he said, "Here am I."

Holiness and the Feminine Spirit

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Annunciation
by Mary Haddad.
Excerpted from Holiness and the Feminine Spirit The Art of Janet McKenzie; Susan Perry, editor. 28 full-color paintings by award-winning artist Janet McKenzie with accompanying reflections by leading women writers. Orbis Books 2009 Used with permission.

I have a book with the one-word title Annunciation, which contains over a hundred images of this story, of the otherworldly angel Gabriel appearing to an unsuspecting Mary in this world. The book is a survey of the images used to depict this one-word story—annunciation—–from a fifth-century mosaic to a late twentieth-century painting. Sometimes I flip through the pictures like a deck of cards and what I notice, almost without exception, is the considerable physical distance between Gabriel and Mary: distance between the divine and the human. Whether measured in inches or feet, there is a distance, an empty space between them; they never touch. In one amusing image from a fourteenth-century altarpiece, the distance is spelled out in a word balloon beamed like light from the lips of the angel Gabriel: Ave gratis plena dominus tecum (Greetings, favored one, the Lord is with you). Mary recoils and if she had a word balloon to go along with the expression on her face, it might say, “Get lost.”

I find in this physical distance between the angel and the girl a paradoxical metaphor for the overarching role of women in the telling of our story about God coming near and dwelling among us. On the one hand, there is the unwitting importance and centrality of Mary, theotokos, the God-bearer, whose consent was a pretty big deal in making this story happen. On the other hand, there is the unconscionable marginalization of women by the institutional church, the oldest boys’ club of them all. They put Mary on a pedestal and made her a perpetual virgin; in other words, perpetually untouchable, safely out of reach, and cut off from positions of power and leadership in the world that God so loves.
~Mary Haddad
________

About the writer, Mary Haddad
The Rev. Canon Mary Haddad was ordained to the priesthood of The Episcopal Church in 2001. In January 2007 she was called to the position of Canon Pastor of Grace Cathedral, San Francisco. The Vestry of All Saints Episcopal Church Beverly Hills has called Haddad to serve as Interim Pastor commencing January 2010.
________

About the book, Holiness and the Feminine Spirit
Holiness and the Feminine Spirit The Art of Janet McKenzie by Susan Perry. 28 full-color paintings by award-winning artist Janet McKenzie with accompanying reflections by leading women writers. Orbis Books 2009 Download a PDF.

This beautiful book explores how holiness can empower women and how empowered women work to bring about the reign of God. The paintings of Janet McKenzie and the accompanying reflections follow the life of Jesus through the women who gave him birth and carried his message to the world. The form and color of the images astound and the words of the text inspire!

The 28 contributors include well-known writers such as Joyce Rupp, Joan Chittister, and Diane Butler Bass, theologian Elizabeth A. Johnson, art critic Sr. Wendy Beckett, best-selling novelist Ann Patchett, social activist and writer Helen Prejean, feminist Chung Hyun Kyung, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori of the American Episcopal Church, and many others.

________

About the artist, Janet McKenzie
Artist Janet McKenzie has committed her life's work to creating inclusive art celebrating women. Ms. McKenzie's image of Jesus, “Jesus of the People”, was selected winner of the National Catholic Reporter's "Jesus 2000” competition, by judge Sister Wendy Beckett. She lives and works in Vermont. Seen above, Annunciation by Janet McKenzie.

Holiness and the Feminine Spirit
-Part 2

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Annunciation - Part 2
by Mary Haddad.
Excerpted from Holiness and the Feminine Spirit The Art of Janet McKenzie; Susan Perry, editor. 28 full-color paintings by award-winning artist Janet McKenzie with accompanying reflections by leading women writers. Orbis Books 2009 Used with permission.

By whatever means—we cannot know—Mary knew how to recognize an angel when she saw one. Maybe she’d seen one before. But something within her—call it faith, call it trust, call it risk, call it her ticket out of Galilee—something within her said, “Go for broke.” In a world where young girls like her had no say in anything, Mary now had all the say in the world. This is no small thing for someone who was more possession than person in her patriarchal world. Hope was in the air in her world. As mother of Jesus of the people, Mary is mother of all possibilities, poised to take her story on the road.
~Mary Haddad
________

About the writer, Mary Haddad
The Rev. Canon Mary Haddad was ordained to the priesthood of The Episcopal Church in 2001. In January 2007 she was called to the position of Canon Pastor of Grace Cathedral, San Francisco. The Vestry of All Saints Episcopal Church Beverly Hills has called Haddad to serve as Interim Pastor commencing January 2010.
________

About the book, Holiness and the Feminine Spirit
Holiness and the Feminine Spirit The Art of Janet McKenzie by Susan Perry. 28 full-color paintings by award-winning artist Janet McKenzie with accompanying reflections by leading women writers. Orbis Books 2009 Download a PDF.

This beautiful book explores how holiness can empower women and how empowered women work to bring about the reign of God. The paintings of Janet McKenzie and the accompanying reflections follow the life of Jesus through the women who gave him birth and carried his message to the world. The form and color of the images astound and the words of the text inspire!

The 28 contributors include well-known writers such as Joyce Rupp, Joan Chittister, and Diane Butler Bass, theologian Elizabeth A. Johnson, art critic Sr. Wendy Beckett, best-selling novelist Ann Patchett, social activist and writer Helen Prejean, feminist Chung Hyun Kyung, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori of the American Episcopal Church, and many others.

________

About the artist, Janet McKenzie
Artist Janet McKenzie has committed her life's work to creating inclusive art celebrating women. Ms. McKenzie's image of Jesus, “Jesus of the People”, was selected winner of the National Catholic Reporter's "Jesus 2000” competition, by judge Sister Wendy Beckett. She lives and works in Vermont. Seen above, Sacred Madonna and Child by Janet McKenzie.

Holiness and the Feminine Spirit
-Part 3

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The human family longs for connection, for embrace, for meaning. God made us that way and invites us to broker the distance between us with more than words—with embodied love and practices of compassion and justice. ~Mary Haddad


Excerpted from Holiness and the Feminine Spirit The Art of Janet McKenzie; Susan Perry, editor. 28 full-color paintings by award-winning artist Janet McKenzie with accompanying reflections by leading women writers. Orbis Books 2009 Used with permission.

________

About the writer, Mary Haddad
The Rev. Canon Mary Haddad was ordained to the priesthood of The Episcopal Church in 2001. In January 2007 she was called to the position of Canon Pastor of Grace Cathedral, San Francisco. The Vestry of All Saints Episcopal Church Beverly Hills has called Haddad to serve as Interim Pastor commencing January 2010.
________

About the book, Holiness and the Feminine Spirit
Holiness and the Feminine Spirit The Art of Janet McKenzie by Susan Perry. 28 full-color paintings by award-winning artist Janet McKenzie with accompanying reflections by leading women writers. Orbis Books 2009 Download a PDF.

This beautiful book explores how holiness can empower women and how empowered women work to bring about the reign of God. The paintings of Janet McKenzie and the accompanying reflections follow the life of Jesus through the women who gave him birth and carried his message to the world. The form and color of the images astound and the words of the text inspire!

The 28 contributors include well-known writers such as Joyce Rupp, Joan Chittister, and Diane Butler Bass, theologian Elizabeth A. Johnson, art critic Sr. Wendy Beckett, best-selling novelist Ann Patchett, social activist and writer Helen Prejean, feminist Chung Hyun Kyung, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori of the American Episcopal Church, and many others.

________

About the artist, Janet McKenzie
Artist Janet McKenzie has committed her life's work to creating inclusive art celebrating women. Ms. McKenzie's image of Jesus, “Jesus of the People”, was selected winner of the National Catholic Reporter's "Jesus 2000” competition, by judge Sister Wendy Beckett. She lives and works in Vermont. Seen above, Epiphany by Janet McKenzie.

Speaking Shalom with Creation

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Speaking Shalom with Creation
by C. Robin Janning

The members of The Artists Registry @ ECVA have become a breathing, blooming, and burgeoning community. These artists come to us not from a single narrow pool, but rather from the widest oceans with nets dripping potential and possibility.

Right now in our community we have emerging artists and long-time professionals. We have traditional artists, contemporary artists, photographers, sculptors, quirky assemblage artists, and more. They all work here quite companionably and allow themselves to be intersecting lights of art in an organic whole-life that moves on widely diverging paths of faith.

I can believe, when I see this, that art is a model for ways in which we can communicate the light that resides in each of us. And when light calls to light …well, that is the antidote to fear.

Art is much more than “hey, look at my light.” I think it must be more like “wow, look there is light and it is everywhere.” Being a member of The Artists Registry @ ECVA means more than being in an exhibit that might encourage the purchase of art. ECVA artists, by standing in this community, support the importance of doing the work of excavating, shaping, and showing light. They are a joined in the communal vocation of bringing light.

Lama Surya Das, in his book Awakening to the Sacred, states that “Almost inevitably a spiritual search becomes a search for divine or sacred light.” Our own Presiding Bishop speaking about Ubuntu, wondered if we would “in the coming days” be “speaking shalom to creation.” I wonder if, as artists, we might just be “speaking shalom with creation.”

C. Robin Janning is a leader at the contemporary intersections of faith and the visual arts. As a painter, Janning's abstract works explore the meeting places of the seen and the unseen. As an arts administrator and writer, Janning focuses on expanding the role of art in the life of community. She is Editor in Chief of Image and Spirit, Registrar of The Artists Registry @ ECVA and Editor of The Art Blog at Episcopal Cafe. Janning's paintings may be viewed online at Gramercy Galleria and Oranges and Sardines.

On View: Theotokos. Icon, tempera on panel, ~ 22cm h x 15 cm w. 20th c. Written by Igumen Ioana Zhiltsov, a hieromonk in residence at The Holy Dormition Pskov Caves Monastery, Russia. Private collection. The Pskov Caves have sheltered monastics and hermits for more than five centuries. Igumen Ioana Zhiltsov, with Ken Kaisch, brought Turning the Heart to God by Saint Theolphan the Recluse into the English language. From the classic Russian book, The Path to Salvation, Turning the Heart to God is arguably the most profound work on repentance in all of Christendom. Available from Conciliar Press, here.

Beauty amidst Desperate Poverty

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As the world responds to the 7.0 earthquake that struck southern Haiti on January 12, 2010, the Art Blog contributes these resources about Haitian artists and their art.

The murals that once filled the walls of Holy Trinity Cathedral in Port-au-Prince Haiti captivated visitors and locals. The cathedral-sized images depicted scenes from the life of Christ and the Holy Family accented with a Haitian landscape. Grandmere Mimi has the story at her 'Wounded Bird' blog, where she writes of the piles of rubble that now lay beneath the once vibrant visual proclamations of faith. (The editor thanks Ann Fontaine and Nick Kniseley for this tip.)

Slides and further images of the Holy Trinity Cathedral murals are found at this link here. (The editor thanks Episcopal Cafe Senior Journalist Ann Fontaine for this tip.)

From The Rev. Lauren R. Stanley TEC Appointed Missionary in Haiti, an entire collection of Haitian street art for sale, viewable on her Facebook album And Lauren's website for Haiti is here.

"Before the hurricane and the earthquake, Haitian artists were very very needy. Our little business has not been able to keep them above water,"said Boris Kravitz over the telephone with me this afternoon. "We buy art directly from the artists. My wife is Haitian, and we sell the artists' work through our shop and our website, Haitian Art Company." He and his wife, Mary, operate their small business in Key West, Florida. "Now, after the earthquake, we have no word of the circumstances of their property or the people."

The web site Art Works For Haiti states "We began our work in 1999 when we visited Haiti to buy art from many old friends and new galleries. We held our first art sale at Saint Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Newcastle, Maine in December of that year. The money we raised, together with funds appropriated by the Outreach Committee of St. Andrew’s Church, was sent to a Haitian Episcopal priest in Gros Morne, northwest Haiti, for teachers’ salaries, children’s school uniforms and school lunches in the village of Figaro. We have been raising funds for Haiti ever since through our art sales. In 2002, the Episcopal Diocese of Maine entered into a companion relationship with the Diocese of Haiti for five years and extended that relationship in 2007 for another five years. To help support the partnership and non-partnership activities that have grown out of that relationship, we have extended our art sales to many other Episcopal parishes in Maine. The proceeds have helped enable these churches to assist partner parishes in northwest Haiti and also to contribute to such non-partnership projects as St. Vincent’s School for the Handicapped, the Children’s Nutrition Fund and Maison de Naissance." (The editor thanks John Chilton and Vicki Black for this tip.)

Webster University (St Louis, Mo, USA) has several links to Haitian art and artists, including published images of Haitian art books and a list of Haitian painters compiled by Bob Corbett. (The editor thanks Donald Schell for this tip.)

Steel drum and metal art is a particular field for collectors. (The editor thanks Jean Fitzpatrick from PastoralCounseling.net for this tip.)

Bryant University (Smithfield, RI) has a Haitian Art Collection, with accompanying text online from Gladys Kinoian Lujan. A thumbnail view of the collection is here. (The editor thanks Ann Fontaine for this tip.)

Episcopal Relief and Development (ERD) is The Episcopal Church organization that can and is responding to the immediate and ongoing relief needs of Haiti.

Carol Barnwell, Communications Director of the Episcopal Diocese of Texas (Houston), shares with The Art Blog the ECW and ECW's work with woman Batik artists of Haiti.

The Wall Street Journal article about Georges Nader Sr and the loss of the world's largest repository of Haitian art is here.

On View:Mural of the Baptism of Jesus, wall painting from Holy Trinity Cathedral, Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Courtesy of John D, Grandmere Mimi at Wounded Bird, Ann Fontaine at SeaShellSeller, and Nick Knisely at Entangled States.

Reaching for Her Mère

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Reaching for Her Mère
By The Rev. F. M. “Buddy” Stallings

I had to make myself watch the continuing reports from Haiti this weekend. Beginning to think that we have seen enough and moving on, while perfectly understandable, is perilous not only to the victims of the earthquake but to us as well. Crying “overload” because it hurts to watch will not well serve our souls. Before ending the evening, I watched an exchange between a doctor and a beautiful little ten year-old girl, who was being told that amputating her leg was the only way she could live. As her mother and she began to understand the English words translated into French, both began to cry, the little girl increasingly inconsolable, reaching for her Mère.

One reporter observed that Haiti would become a country of amputees. At that word I had had enough. Having worked in the third world years ago, I recall what life for an amputee, for any seriously handicapped person, is like. No picnic anywhere, in places like Haiti it is a guarantee of a life of misery, even more misery than usual. Amazingly and somewhat disturbingly, I went to sleep.

What are we to do? Pray? Well, of course. But truly that is just not enough. In fact, the most beautifully written petition in the Prayers of the People is by itself pretty lame. Feeling the impotency of “just” praying, I had a conversation with a friend about going to Haiti to help. A lovely but ridiculous impulse, I’d be largely useless in a country that needs medical attention and rebuilding, neither being exactly in my skill set. I need to stay home, pray, and send money. And the check I wrote yesterday isn’t nearly enough.

“Weeping may endure for the night but joy comes in the morning.” The psalmist's words pricked my consciousness as I awoke today. But regardless the hour, it is not yet truly morning in Haiti and may not be for many, many days to come. For the night’s weeping there to be transformed into the joy of morning, we need to give and to give as generously as we can. My vehicle of choice, and the one I feel safest recommending is Episcopal Relief and Development. Go to ERD’s website, read of their work and make a donation.

The Rev. F. M. “Buddy” Stallings is Vicar of St. Bartholomew’s Church, New York, NY. Read his weekly Vicar’s Message HERE.
On view at the home page and above: Mother and Child by J. J. Luberisse, seen at ART Works for Haiti.

Art As Prayer

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The plight of the people of Haiti has called us to generosity in the sharing of our treasure. We take stock of all we have and give what we can. But we are also called to consciousness and prayer. The Rev. George Clifford (a café contributor) in his blog Ethical Musings says this:

Prayer in the wake of a disaster is vital for three reasons. First, prayer connects people with one another. On a strictly human level, praying for an individual or a group focuses the attention of the person praying on that person or group. Continuing to intercede or give thanks for that person or group, keeps that attention – to a greater or lesser degree depending upon the intensity and frequency of prayer and competing claims – focused on that need. Prayer, if nothing else, ensures that we do not forget the needs of the disaster victims.
Prayer, however, is not merely about the psychological dynamics of the person praying. Prayer connects people with God and one another across the spatio-temporal matrix. In some way that I do not pretend to understand, prayer establishes or enhances a relationship between the one praying and the one for whom prayer is offered. Process theologians may conceptualize this happening in God's mind; Christian theologians more rooted in historic formulations may conceptualize this relationship happening through divine intervention. Proving the connection occurs let alone explaining the mechanisms by which it occurs lies well beyond the frontiers of knowledge today.

As artists, we find the means and occasions to pray in, by, and through the work we do. It is in the smoothing of paper and the mixing of paint, it is in the whisper of stone or wood shavings, and it is in the recycling of found items. It is in the beginning and completion of creation. This process we refer to in various ways: “art is a sweet unconscious prayer” says James A. Mangum; Barbara Desrosiers says: “allowing divine energy to flow, baring your soul before God as you work is prayer in a pure form;” and for David Orth it is: “…not talking, not listening. What it is, is Dwelling. In this Dwelling, everything is welcome, and nothing goes back out the same.”

However we acknowledge the connection between prayer and our work as artists, it is undeniably a mission of spirit and beauty. We partner with the collective consciousness of the Divine, and in this participation we act as both receivers and transmitters.

We join all of the physical and spiritual caregivers in Haiti, we offer the prayer of new creation as we go into the various places of our work and pray in and through our art.

Shown above: Still Mind by Shin-hee Chin. Seen on the home page masthead, 89 and 90 from Shin-hee Chin’s Psalms series. Seen on the Daily Episcopalian masthead, 81, and on the Speaking To The Soul masthead, 91, both from Chin’s Psalms series. About her work she says: “On the level of technique and material, I appropriate and valorize craft techniques such as stitching, random wrapping, and binding. The techniques have an important meaning for me both as a compositional device and as an obsessional activity. In experimenting with a variety of ‘domestic’ media such as clothes, threads, and paper, my hands participate in the process of the intricate linking of the irregular pattern of threads that form vein, skin, and scar. In fact, one can see the process through the complexly interwoven and intricately entangled threads covering the work.” Read more here. Shin-hee Chin is Assistant Professor, Art and Design Department, Tabor College, Hillsboro, Kansas and a member of The Artists Registry @ ECVA.

Art Of The Place

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Art beyond contemplation, more than seeing, feeling, a farther step into the proximity of spirit. What happens when we sit in the company of art in such a way that causes cooperation and community with, and in, spirit? Stepping into the arms of such an environment not only removes us from the strata of daily occupations and pre-occupations, but also places us on the rungs of Jacob’s Ladder. Surrounded by art the of place, we sit near to our true home in God’s heart.

This ‘art of the place' is exemplified in the work of artist Tobi Kahn, who believes that “to create art is natural, an act in the image of the Creator, whose materials are light and darkness, generative and reflecting luminosities, and their attendant color and shadow. Art begins in the capacity to see, a mode of knowing the world and its Maker that is indispensable to the religious and cultural expression of a people.”
He goes on to ask “how can God be made manifest in the material world? The infinite and mortal can meet in spaces designated as liminal, dwelling places that invite our spirit, made in the Image, to encounter the ineffable God in both splendor and intimacy. The media for the engagement between transcendence and immanence are the same as those with which the world itself was created: Light, horizon, breath, pattern, the holiness of distinctions.”

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About abstraction, used with breathtaking effect in a Milwaukee Synagogue, Tobi writes that “it is an invitation to discover the grandeur of the world we were given, to contemplate the beginning, its first shapes and forms, to taste a return to the paradise of creation in a world that only our deeds can redeem. These works suggest the continual flowering of life radiance and darkening, elemental particles of being, earthbound and celestial vantage points.”

You can see more of Tobi Kahn’s art here. Tobi Kahn quotations are from his The Meaning of Beauty contained in whole in “Tobi Kahn: Sacred Spaces for the 21st Century” (©2009, Tobi Kahn) available here.

The Museum of Biblical Art, MOBIA recently featured the exhibition Tobi Kahn Sacred Spaces for the 21st Century. “Since his art feels equally at home in the liturgy, in the public forum, and in museums, it has special significance for individuals and institutions – like MOBIA – who seek to understand the relationship between art, religion, and ritual” (from the MOBIA segment from the CBS program “The Art of the Book,” which can be seen here).

Seen above (main): Shalom Bat chairs, new ritual objects created by Tobi Kahn for the ceremony of welcoming a baby girl into the Jewish family and naming her. The four chairs are symbolic of the four Matriarchs of the Hebrew Bible: Sarah, Rachel, Rebecca, and Leah. They will be installed in The Abraham Joshua Heschel School, and made available to the community there for welcoming and naming celebrations.

Seen above (inset): areta (variation).

On view in the homepage masthead: Congregation Emanu-El B’n, Milwaukee, Wisconsin installation, see more here.

On view at Daily Episcopalian masthead: aahpa study (detail) by Tobi Kahn. On view at Speaking to the Soul masthead: ahyan study (detail) by Tobi Kahn. The titles of the art used in these mastheads caused me to ask Tobi about their meanings. He replied “they are made up names based on language, alluding to actual Hebrew or Latin words, but are not meant to be literal. As my work is abstract based on reality, I felt the titles should reflect that as well. There is a spiritual content to the names.”

Celebrating Spacious Heart

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Remember Valentine’s Day when you were in grade school? Remember how your small circle of friends suddenly opened to include …well, everyone whose name you knew? That was an early experience of spacious heart, a time when you moved beyond seeing walls and opened a window to see clouds and sky and a “beyond” for which you had no name.

Last week, I read and saw more about Haiti and the losses her people are struggling to endure. In my travels across the internet, it is amazing and heartening to see how many people are talking about Haiti, caring about Haiti, and offering help for Haiti. So many hearts are open.

Right here at the Café, I read about the people living on the Cheyenne River and Standing Rock Reservations, now in a state of emergency—more need and more hearts opening. And a drive downtown in my city, your city, and really any large city in this country reveals more need.

How in this world do you and I find the spacious heart we need to live justly and compassionately?

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As artists we make art that reflects how we might grow from small heart to spacious heart. We tear down walls and create landscapes that push the imagination “out there.” Art becomes a lens, forming new and wider images in the heart.

We send Valentines. We form partnerships to distribute our Valentines and in so doing, journey on toward spacious heart. In the spirit of that spacious heart, I wish you all a happy Valentine’s Day, a beautiful day of no walls, of reaching for that “beyond” for which we still have no name. And …

Happy Valentine’s Day to Episcopal Relief & Development for helping create a path to spacious heart.

Seen above (and at Cafe masthead): "Heaven's Gate" by Robert Epley. Seen above (inset and at Daily Episcopalian and Speaking to the Soul mastheads) "Love's Blessing" by Conne Backus-Yoder

Think About These Things

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Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Philippians 4:8)

+
+ +
+ + +
honor
purity
pleasure
commendable
praiseworthy---
Incense of blessing
Rises to fill the earth.

Seen above (and on mastheads): “God Numbers the Stars” by Judith McManis in the current ECVA Exhibition: "Recognition & Return"

Readings are from Streams of Mercy: a meditative commentary on the Bible by Ann Kristin Haldors Fontaine (used with permission of the author.)

Art As Doing & Being Prayer

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"...from verbal Rococo to minimalistic silence; from contemplating an Icon or lighting a candle to absorbing the beauty of creation or engaging in the creative endeavour; from doing prayers to being a prayer."

Thanksgiving for the Creative Endeavour

In carving the wood; in sculpting the stone;
in forming the clay                   

Your creative Spirit is within us

 

In painting the canvas; in pressing the print;

in searching for new ways                 

Your creative Spirit is within us

 

In the landscaping of the garden; in the toiling of earth;

in the arrangement of flowers        

Your creative Spirit is within us

 

In making the bread we break and share   

Your creative Spirit is within us

 

In the making of music with instruments or voices    

Your creative Spirit is within us

 

In creating new worlds with written words;

in telling stories with pictures  

Your creative Spirit is within us

 

In joining the dance of the universe;

in moving our bodies to the beat of life  

Your creative Spirit is within us

 

In the spontaneous and subversive street art   

Your creative Spirit is within us

 

In the performing of a play; in the routine of a mime;

in the kindness of a gesture  

Your creative Spirit is within us

 

In the words of our liturgy and prayers 

Your creative Spirit is within us

 

In being human; in caring for one another and our planet  

Your creative Spirit is within us

 

We are creative beings made to the image and likeness of a creative God. 

Amen

Seen above (and on home-page mastheads): Olive Tree I by Ernesto Lozada-Uzuriaga Steele

Words from "Prayer" and "UPrayer: Thanksgiving for the Creative Endeavour" by Ernesto Lozada-Uzuriaga Steele.

Color, Contrast, Movement

Designer and weaver of tapestries, Pat Williams, has a sign on her loom that reads: “Color, Contrast, Movement.”
“Color choices” she says “are intuitive, and if intuitive doesn't quite work I call on Van Gogh's (among other artists') successful use of complementary colors as a guide. I want my work to have a presence up close as well as from way across the room, therefore an emphasis on contrast is crucial. I want vivid, so I work to define the shapes in their space. Movement can make a piece thrilling and certainly help with the story line.”
The images that follow are examples of wit combined with sensitivity and accomplished technique.

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“Orion” (above): “…dreamed feeling of wonderful purpose and goals, of being on a quest; pleasure in living and existence. The constellation of Orion depicted here is fairly accurate, and Orion-the-hunter relates to the woman’s purposeful stride towards her goal. No other constellation contains so many bright stars. People ask what is in the box she carries--they could be tools, could be secrets.”

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“Kairos” (above) “…an ancient Greek word meaning the "right or opportune moment," or "God's time." The ancient Greeks had two words for time, chronos and kairos. While the former refers to chronological or sequential time, the latter signifies "a time in between", a moment of undetermined period of time in which "something" special happens. What the special something is depends on who is using the word. While chronos is quantitative, kairos has a qualitative nature."

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“Chicken In A Storm II” (above) “…incorporates metallics with standard (wool) materials. It explores the possibility of choice on a late summer day and finds that in the face of the storm's fury response is different if you are a chicken or a tree.”

Some of the most intriguing images are her portraits—inner portraits. She has embellished her portraits of the women below (left, Meditation; right, Patterns of Thinking) with emotion and depth. She has woven the eyes in these portraits using threads of perception and compassion.

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And one of her loveliest portraits is that of “A Good Marriage” (below). “This tapestry” Pat says, was a gift to her husband. “The little squares and rectangles are our atmospheres commingling.

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While weaving and tapestries as wall art comprise a majority of Pat’s work, the commission of communion cushions at the altar of Grace Calvary Episcopal Church (installed in February 2010) contribute a new and local focus to a richly spiritual environment. The cushions (seen below) are a series of landscapes set in Northeast Georgia. She writes: “The reason for placing the story locally, rather than the mideast, is that the spirit of Jesus pervades any place where Christians live, and His spirit lives in the hearts of Christians in Habersham County in Grace Calvary Episcopal Church. The series is based on the liturgical year, beginning with Advent.”

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Pat considers weaving an anomaly in our culture. She loves the “slowness of the process because it is in direct contrast to our instant everything culture. Slow and lovely involvement. Weaving offers the incredible effect of the textures, depth of surface, the malleability of color combinations, the symbolism of intertwining, and the inevitability of the process. One starts at the bottom and works to the top."

Seen above, all images as named by Pat Williams. On the front-page mastheads are “Chicken In A Storm II” (main); detail from “A Good Marriage” (Daily Episcopalian); and detail from “Homunculus” (Speaking to the Soul).


Higher Forms Of Life

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Informed by both personal and communal vision, an artist interprets the constantly evolving relationships that make up not just a single life, but also this vast web of life we dare and dance and dream through.

From “Transfiguration” (seen above) to “Tango” (seen below), the art of Hazel Bartram-Birchenough invites you to seek out and identify “Higher Forms of Life.” About “Transfiguration” she says “This phenomenon speaks to the witnessing of a great and unique revelation during one’s spiritual journey. We are shown beyond the cave of gloom and confusion, the prospect of a glorious light on our path.”

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Currently showing at the Episcopal Diocese of Texas (EDOT) Gallery, Bartram-Birchenough’s art features both figurative and abstract works, reflecting a process she describes as “a way of reaching the source, the deepest, numinous parts of the psyche.”

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The abstract form of “Close Communion” (seen above, left), and the more classical “The Great Cedars, Self-Portrait from a Dream” (seen above, right), cause us to slow down and consider our own lives cast in the light of Spirit. “Close Communion,” she says “describes a deep sharing of the golden bread and fish caught by Christ, the fisher of men. The harmony of forms expresses the potential for love and understanding that is available through grace to all of us.”

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Grace and harmony wind their way around and through her work. About the sculpture “Melissa being Mary” (seen above) Bartram-Birchenough writes: “Melissa is a young actress, who projects a serene, compassionate feeling that reminds one of the presence of Mary, the mother of Christ.”
EDOT (Episcopal Diocese of Texas) Gallery at the Houston Diocesan Center will show “Higher Forms of Life” through May 14, 2010. Houston-based painter Marilyn Biles is curator of artworks at the EDOT Gallery. About art shown at the gallery, she says “Some will have a sense of tradition and mystery, some of intellectual depth, some of visual piety, and some the unknowability of God.” Read more HERE and HERE.

Seen above, all images as named by Hazel Bartram-Birchenough. On the front-page mastheads are detail from “At His Feet” (main) “referring to intimate fragments of Christ’s life, as his feet are washed and at his deposition.” The mastheads at Daily Episcopalian and Speaking to the Soul show details from “Spiritual Journey … the visual treatment of the psychological gold, representing the Self.”


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