Artists find ‘Sacred Space’

The “Between Heaven and Earth: Spiritual Transformation and Sacred Spaces” exhibit held its juror’s gallery talk and reception last Wednesday as part of the College’s “Religion, Culture and Identity” program in the Holman Hall Art Gallery.

The show, which featured a total of 33 artists from several different states, was juried by Eleanor Heartney, author of “Postmodern Heretics: The Catholic Imagination in Contemporary Art.”

Heartney expressed her interest in the issues and controversies that involve art and religion, saying, “Religion (has begun) to emerge as a political tool.” She added that “religion can be an instrument of healing, rather than division.”

Heartney chose pieces that showed that a sacred space could be found anywhere. She said sacred could be conveyed as “complicated, Baroque, opulent, sensual,” as well as something that is found in the every day world.

“I read the (juror’s) writing while in college, so this was a big deal for me,” Hildebrandt said.

The works of artist Dwight Harris were more traditional. His “Delicate Balance,” which was composed of photographs manipulated on canvas, showed his view of the Catholic Holy Trinity. Harris called the image of a Catholic Church “against his grain” because of his Protestant background. The Trinity shown in the piece depicts the human world, the spiritual world and the connection between them.

Some of the artwork suggested a darker side to religion, like “Inferno” by Carol Rosen. Heartney described this vision of the Holocaust as a “very powerful image of the other side.” In her vision of hell, Rosen said she tried to “personalize the horror.”

“I was really excited to see such a variety of subjects with the same idea,” said Sarah Cunningham, curator of the College Art Gallery.

Students in the “Holy Places, Sacred Shrines” course said they were glad they were able to visualize the topics they had discussed in class, especially the subject of what can be described as sacred.