October 11 – November 10, 2012

Opening: Thursday October 11, 5-7pm

The Visceglia Gallery and Jennings Library

Curated by Yulia Tikhonova, curator in residence, 2012-2013

This group exhibition examines the role of religion: theology, symbolism, allegory, ethics – in contemporary art.

Historically, art has been the visual language of religion.

Beginning with Dutch genre painting, art began to concern itself with everyday life and the art making process itself. Modernism continued this secular tradition. At the same time, spiritual yearnings continue to inspire and motivate many artists.

The search for transcendence, so often the motivation for great art, has become more explicit amongst contemporary artists. Bill Viola, Peter Greenaway, Marina Abramovich (to name some well known examples) evoke emotions that we normally identify with spirituality, such as profound emotion or revelation.

The recent controversy about the Russian activist group Pussy Riot has demonstrated the important historical role artists play as critics of the church, in this instance the corrupt economic practices of the Russian Orthodox Church. They employ the tools that only artists possess: imagination, intelligence, creativity, courage, initiative, passion, cunning, and a refined sense of mischief.

My emphasis is art that is intrinsically “spiritual”, if not explicitly “religious”.

BLESSED ARE THE ARTISTS brings together 20 artists from diverse religious and ethnic backgrounds. American, Hispanic, Slavic, Chinese, Western European and West Indians cultures empower and articulate their work.

The artists are inspired by Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Despite their cultural differences, the artists have common goals: the possibilities of religious visualization through contemporary art (Borysewicz, Button, Hristoff, Bekkerman), religion and identity (Benjamin, Schaer), critique of women in religion (Silverberg, Nagy, Schaer) art making as “religion” (Marks), religion and pop-culture ( Sin-Yong Ho)

BLESSED ARE THE ARTISTS will showcase the different ways that artists use the “blessing” of their talent to investigate the role of religion in our personal and public lives. Some of the artists employ the scriptural traditions fundamental to our shared secular culture, and some view religion with a more critical eye.

In the context of Caldwell’s traditions and ongoing interest in theology, this exhibit seeks to encourage a better understanding of the importance of religion in our shared contemporary culture. This exhibition has several works on paper and book arts that are on view at the Caldwell College Jennings Library. Where once books were the most important transmitter of spiritual knowledge, today’s contemporary book artists explore this medium to address the dynamic relationship between text, history and religion.

Caldwell theology students and those in the fine arts will have a unique chance to creatively engage one another.

Participating artists:
• Lili Almog
• Arlen Austin
• Lynne Avadenka
• Edward Bekkerman
• Siona Benjamin
• Alfonse Borysewicz
• Mary Button
• Rob van Erve
• Rodriguez Calero
• Cecile Chong
• Sin-Ying Ho
• Peter Hristoff
• Ariane Littman
• China Marks
• St. Gerardine Mueller
• Haley Nagy
• Ruben Natal-San Miguel
• Miriam Schaer
• Robbin Ami Silverberg
• Nyugen E. Smith
• Yona Verwer
• Joanna M. Wezyk
(Tags: Art, Religion, Exhibit)