He that dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. – Psalm 91
The 2012 Eighth Grade Religion/Art Exhibition is one of powerful beauty and self-expression. The girls worked each day on their projects – dying, shaping, and blocking fabric; stitching colorful threads to create squares; painting and cutting layers of paper; and carefully cutting tyvek borders. “Each day they came to class, I impressed upon them to work with a quiet mind and a quiet heart,” says art teacher Ms. Mary Marley.
Religion and art come together in this contemplative class project designed by Ms. Marley and Ms. Maryanne Mignone, Chair of the Religion Department. For the girls it is a special time set aside each day for reflection, introspection, and creativity – time each girl takes to discover how colors, shapes, and the framework of the chosen Psalm define her. In God the Gardner, Ms. Mignone quotes author Ellen Davis: “Psalms resemble icons: they speak to our religious imaginations in memorable, verbal images. They create pictures in our minds and reveal to us our world, our own lives, from a God’s-eye point of view.”
Ms. Marley selects a verse from the Psalms as the foundation of each year’s Religion/Art project. “This year’s project consists of a nine square mixed-media design that took seven months to complete,” she says. “Four of the squares are painted and sewn prints, and five squares are batik cloth. The design is brought together by imaginative papercuts made from black tyvek. The verse from Psalm 91 that surrounds the work also is cut from tyvek.”
Each work is remarkably and vibrantly different. The girls invite viewers to see their finished and titled art through the lens of written reflections. The artist statement accompanying each piece chronicles the personal journey the eighth grader made reflecting her months of work as she set about to craft an image of how she sees herself and her world.
The following are excerpts from a few of the exquisitely written eighth grade reflections:
The Last Goodbye “Look at my piece and see two different sides of me. Every square is a window into who I am as a person. The vibrant reds, oranges and greens represent the fun, outgoing side of my personality. The varied patterns throughout the piece show that I am unique. Ever since I was a little girl, my mother taught me to embrace my individuality and to never let anyone change who I am.” – S. Drane ’16
Pretty in Pink “When you look at my art you will notice many bright colors blending together. To me, this blending represents all of us united and that God is with us as a shelter. There are dark colors in my piece also. We all go through dark times in our lives. Even when I am in the dark, God puts his shadow around me and I know there is hope.” – G. Cogan ’16
Puppy Love “I see the holy Spirit in my work, not only through color, but also, through the intricate cutting. The cutouts of children at rest signify our knowledge of God watching over us and loving us. Nothing can harm them when they are in the shadow of the Almighty. The images of lightning, stars, arrows, and colors of water also signify God’s presence and extravagant artwork in the world. I feel proud of what I have created and I believe God appreciates my art like I appreciate His.” – C. Conley ’16
In His Hands “In my work of art I see vibrant red and hands. The black hands form circles and a grid connecting inwards and reaching outwards. In sign language, the hands mean ‘peace’ and ‘love to you.’ These hands represent God protecting us and comforting us in His presence, as the verse from Psalm 91 indicates. The powerful color red portrays the strength and confidence we find in God.” – E. Erler ’16
All Paths Lead to Squares “The tall, strong oak trees are the first images that pop out for me as I look at my artwork. They symbolize how we strive to reach ‘the secret place of the Most High.’ The oak leaves sewn into the squares remind me of St. Philippine Duchesne (whose name means ‘heart of oak’) who brought the Schools of the Sacred Heart to theUnited States. The crisp, black birds in flight symbolize the powerful presence of the Holy Spirit and the shadow of his wings that shelter and protect us. The vibrant colors throughout the piece signify hope, wisdom, and opportunity.” – G. Fisher ’16
Live, Laugh, Love “Life, youth, and color are dominant themes in my artwork. The elephants symbolize playfulness. The swans show maturity and grace. Both of these beautiful creatures care for their young with a watchful and protective presence. This characteristic is echoed in the verse from Psalm 91 which surrounds the piece. The bright colors and vibrant patterns indicate the vitality and youthfulness in life, while the darker colors and more intricate designs symbolize hard work and life experience. My art says that you are only a child once and grow into adulthood only once, so enjoy life, live it, and laugh with the people you love.” – C. Gibson ’16
Blown Away “In the many months I have worked on this piece, the verse from Psalm 91 has grown more deeply inside me. The tyvek cutouts of my initials lets God know me by name. These initials run throughout the piece and were carefully cut and placed just as God carefully created me and placed me where He wants me to be.” – A. Hughes ’16
The Great Circle of Life “The interlocking circles [in my work] show the relationship that God has with everyone as well as our connection to one another in the great circle of life. The pink bubbles signify the fun, festive times. The sewn circles in some of the squares show how our lives are in process and every day we add a new, unique stitch.” – B. McAuliffe ’16
FernForest “When you look at my work, you see a black pathway that connects the entire piece. This represents our difficult journey through life. Though some parts of life are difficult and challenging, bright spots are always present as seen in the yellow, green, and blue ‘cobblestones.’ God surrounds us during our lifelong journey as the words of Psalm 91 border all nine squares.” – C. Page ’16
L’etone titrer (Star Tracks) “When I look at my work, I see a prayer that was inspired by the creative spirit of God.” – E. Van Flandern ’16
View a slideshow of works from the Under the Shadow Religion/Art Exhibit.