Brushing away silence 

Visual Arts review | Thru Dec. 21

Visual Arts review | Thru Dec. 21
As part of the Spirit & Place Festival, which officially concluded Nov. 11, the exhibit The Artist"s Voice: Echoing Spirit - continuing through Dec. 21 - gives voice to one of the original ideals of the festival: the linking of spirituality and creativity as a means to strengthen community. While this ideal remains, the festival, with a theme this year of "Breaking Silence," has expanded its boundaries to include non-arts related events that explore each year"s given theme. The Artist"s Voice, though, remains true to the event"s original intent.
Henri J. Doner-Hedrick"s "Eighth Station: Jesus Speaks to the Women of Jerusalem," part of the current exhibit at Domont Gallery.
Presented by Domont Gallery and juried by gallery owner John Domont, Spirit & Place organizer Anne Laker, and Jennifer Complo McNutt, curator of contemporary art at the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art, this show is culled from works submitted by artists from across the continent. 24 artists were selected. Of these, just six are from Indiana; a total of 19 Indiana artists submitted slides. By and large, these works convey some spiritual thought or expression; sometimes the expression is direct, intellectually representational; as in the work of Tatiana Grant from San Francisco. Grant"s work is rooted in the traditions of Byzantine, Middle Ages, and Renaissance religious art, and her iconographic images are collected by individuals and commissioned by churches throughout the world. Christopher Tower of Indianapolis, on the other hand, takes issue with the tension between spirituality"s deeply personal and highly institutionalized aspects. His "Temple Puppets," for example, depicts dangling feet and claws to symbolize the grip of religion and the dehumanization it has engendered throughout history - the antithesis of its true intentions. While looking at their subject differently, each artist has achieved a competency of expression and is at ease in his or her chosen media. Kendra Bayer - another of the Indiana artists -doesn"t look spirituality in the eye; instead, she skirts it with her "Soldierblanket - Women of War," a plastic "quilt" of scores of women who, one conjectures, are widows of men gone to war. Their faces are taken from old photographs, and their torsos, in the shape of a paper dolls, are cut from a variety of colorful patterns. All of this is encased in plastic. The artist allows us to sympathize with the women if we choose, and/or alternatively, we are disturbed by the impersonality of war"s immeasurable death toll. What silence is being broken here? "Trust #2" by Jefrey Haupt of Starkville, Mississippi, also invites contemplation: shrouded in mysterious light and shadow, a man, blindfolded, smiles; his head is tilted back, as if in receipt of some unseen pleasure. Perhaps his silence is his alone: but he appears grateful to receive the quiet gift - the gift of trust, perhaps, as the title implies. Trust, indeed, may be spirituality"s core. But, artists have suggested for centuries, there"s always a paradox between faith and blind faith; the danger in trusting blindly in religion is losing trust in one"s own inner guidance. But there"s also a danger in relying on one"s intellect. It can cloud the intuition and the true expression of spirit. This seems to be the center of tension this exhibit calls us to consider: where do we stand when it comes to our own journey? The Artist"s Voice: Echoing Spirit, including the work of two dozen artists exploring spirituality from many angles, is on view through Dec. 21 at Domont Studio Gallery, 545 S. East St. For information, call 685-9634.

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