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Defining the devine 'The Sacred: Vessels of Spirit and Meaning' at Chapel Gallery

Keene Sentinel Newspaper, Keene, NH
Friday, January 12, 2007
NICOLE S. COLSON - River Record Staff

BELLOWS FALLS, VT - What is cherished is different from person to person. And an upcoming exhibit will show just how individual the divine can be.

"The Sacred: Vessels of Spirit and Meaning" opens during Art Walk on Friday, Jan. 19, at Immanuel Episcopal Church's Chapel Gallery.

It is the second show at the gallery, which opened in October as an expansion of Stone Church Arts, a collaboration between the church and the Rockingham Arts and Museum Project.

Cindy Bowler, of Westminster, who is not a member of the church, is serving as gallery curator with her husband, Robert, the church's administrative assistant.

Bowler will be one of three artists exhibiting, along with Barbara Tarantino and Joellen Knight.

Initially, Bowler was going to center the show's theme around the Virgin-Mary concept of femininity, but instead decided to open it to a wider interpretation and not necessarily just religious. What is sacred, she said, can be communicated through several "vessels," including stories, symbols, traditions - even people.

Bowler, who received a master's degree in fine art in 2005, said what she will feature in "The Sacred" is inspired by her meditation practice and was all, except for one piece, done while she was working on her degree.This body of work consists of drawings and pieces she created using different fabrics. One 6-foot-tall piece was started when the war in Iraq began in 2003. "It involves body, spirit, individuality and sameness across humanity," Bowler said.

Another piece is a depiction of Buddha, Eve and the Virgin Mary using transparent fabric that conveys her notions of what body and spirit are and how they fit in with religion, she said.

Joellen Knight's work is less abstract and for the most part inspired by the Bible, whether they are drawings or her casted bronze pieces.

"Jesus' Passion," a pencil on paper drawing with some Conte crayon, is a dramatic image of Jesus Christ wearing a crown of thorns and with his eyes cast downward. On his head and face are wounds, which are the only feature of the drawing in color other than a yellow star he wears on his chest.

Knight, the only artist in the show who is a member of the church, taught studio art at Mount Holyoke College in Hadley, Mass., for five years and served as a religious in the Society of St. Margaret, a time she performed missionary work and service at nursing homes. She is now a family therapist in Walpole.

Knight did the drawings on the church's bulletin covers in 1990. "Anyone at church would have seen my work," she said. Although she did some commissioned works after that, all of the pieces she's contributing to the exhibit are older.

Barbara Tarantino, a friend of Bowler's who took art classes with her, is a watercolor artist who works and lives in Walpole and in Lake George, N.Y. She will contribute a series of paintings inspired by her time attending The Stillpoint School of Integrative Life Healing in Walpole in 2005-06. The school and The Stillpoint Foundation, both non-profit groups, were founded by Meredith Young-Sowers and Errol Sowers with the purpose of offering materials, programs and services to help promote and develop spiritual growth. Tarantino plans to donate a percentage from the sale of her paintings to Stillpoint.

Tarantino's series was influenced specifically by Young-Sowers' book "Wisdom Bowls: Overcoming Fear and Coming Home to Your Authentic Self." The book was designed as a guide to healing physically, emotionally and spiritually using the body's "bowls" of energy, or chakras.

Each of the seven bowls contains a quality: wisdom, vision, joy, love, power, intimacy and abundance. The book explains how to symbolically heal the cracks and imperfections in the bowls by addressing issues from the past.

Tarantino painted her interpretation of each of her own "energy bowls" as exercises following each chapter she read. Tarantino also will include some of her abstract watercolor depictions of the Virgin Mary in the show.

At Tarantino's request, Young-Sowers will speak about her book at the church on Friday, Feb. 16, at 7 p.m.

As a part of the show's opening, a "first supper" will be held Thursday, Feb. 1, at 6 p.m. Soup and salad will be served and attendees may also bring their own food.

A musical performance will also accompany every exhibit at the Chapel Gallery - this time it will be Brigid's Coracle: The Sacred Vessel, featuring traditional and original Celtic music by Cynthia Hughes on harp and John Crockett on cello following the supper at 7 p.m.

Artists and inspiration seekers alike who are not members of the church are always invited to all events and exhibits.

"The Sacred: Vessels of Spirit and Meaning" opens at Immanuel Episcopal Church at 20 Church St. in Bellows Falls Friday, Jan. 19, with a reception from 5 to 8 p.m. Regular exhibit viewing hours through Feb. 28 at the church are Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. or by appointment by calling Cindy Bowler at 802-376-9244. For information about the Feb 1. musical performance, call the church at 802-463-3100.

Original Article: http://www.sentinelsource.com/main.asp?Search=1&ArticleID=135861&SectionID=63&SubSectionID=622&S=1

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