A public celebration
is a rope bridge of knotted symbols, strung across an abyss. We
make our crossings hoping the chasm will echo our festive sounds
for a moment, as the bridge begins to sway from the rhythms
of our dance.
Ronald L. Grimes
from the number and diversity of images and stories submitted
for this exhibit, the chasm (our church) is echoing and reechoing
to the sounds of history, personal spiritual experience, political/social
commentary – the pain and joy found in all our lives. The
feasts of the church year seem to create a rhythm of rituals mirroring
our common journey. I suspect that rhythm is a persuasive aspect
of the choreography they have provided for generations.
It is no
surprise that these artists have ‘made visible’ the
spiritual component of the Feast experiences – after all, that’s
what we artists do. And no one seems to have been overly constrained
by prior expectations! These are remarkable, personal, sometimes
painful responses to a connection with the Holy Spirit on many levels. Like
all visual representation, they are authentic for those who made
them (the stories, bless them, tell so much about the journeys) and,
like all visual representation, those who look upon them will ‘connect’ or
not connect. The best approach is often to enjoy what you enjoy
immediately and search your heart about what it is that feeds your
soul about a particular image. Then, revisit the exhibit – hopefully
often – to begin the ‘work’ of your reactions to
the images that trouble you. Herein lies the potential for
having ‘new eyes’.
My own reaction was probably much like your own. I looked
at all the images, really connected with a few, had almost no reaction
to some and thought I actually disliked others. I then read
all the stories, knowing how much I needed to know about these wonderful
artists and their offerings. I happened to have scheduled a
weekend retreat at Holy Cross Monastery in upper New York state and
left the images and their stories to ‘simmer’ over that
time. Upon looking at them again, I found I really did have ‘new
eyes’. Particularly with those that had previously troubled
me, I saw new aspects, new layers and new connections with the Spirit.
third of the images submitted concern themselves with
Good Friday. What does that say about the world we live in?
What does it say about our soul’s need to understand the nature
of sacrifice, atonement suffering and redemption? But two thirds
of the images (the glass of life more than half-full?) present visions
of joy, transformation, revelation and connection with the Spirit. Must
we pass through the valley of the shadow in order to truly know these
experiences (probably)? Are these ‘statistics’ reflective
of the journeys of history or are they the product of ‘new
eyes’? Undoubtedly more research would reveal interesting
I am deeply
grateful to the artists who submitted their images.
Some have taken this ‘risk’ for the first time. My own
experience in sharing the products of my creative energy through
the medium of the ECVA Exhibitions has been one of realizing what
a huge, connected, visual world exists within our beloved church.
To be ‘in relationship’ with other Episcopal visual artists
is to be in relationship with the workings of the Spirit. How amazing! I
am so appreciative of the dedication and passion so evident in the
work of these artists and in the work of the folks at ECVA in putting
the exhibit together. Blessings on you all.