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New art exhibit explores the depths of beauty

%22Crossing+the+Red+Sea%22+by+Grace+Carol+Bomer.+Photo+courtesy+Calvin+College
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New art exhibit explores the depths of beauty

"Crossing the Red Sea" by Grace Carol Bomer. Photo courtesy Calvin College

"Crossing the Red Sea" by Grace Carol Bomer. Photo courtesy Calvin College

"Crossing the Red Sea" by Grace Carol Bomer. Photo courtesy Calvin College

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“The Beautiful,” an art exhibition in the Center Art Gallery, is showing from Jan. 8 – Feb. 17.

“The Beautiful” was juried by Mary McCleary and Michelle Westmark Wingard through Christians in the Visual Arts (CIVA). The exhibition was a part of the Worship Symposium program, where the opening reception was held on Jan. 25. More than 100 people were in attendance.

CIVA, founded in 1979, helps artists, collectors and critics explore the relationship between art and faith. The organization manages a collection of “travelling exhibits” with contemporary artwork. “The Beautiful” is one of the eight current travelling exhibits and will later appear in galleries, churches, colleges and other institutions.

“The Beautiful” aims to have a well-rounded view of beauty, one that doesn’t “avoid the world’s suffering … a beauty that continues to capture heart and mind while simultaneously contending with the fallenness of our world” (Exhibition Brochure).

Pieces made in this contemporary perspective aim to represent beauty in more than its simplest sense.

For example, pieces such as “Life” by Rick Love — made from packaging tape in several colors — contain beauty in their content and concept rather than material surface. The piece creates layers and sections through different colors of tape. “Life” and “Death” are then written in thinner tape, symbolizing a juxtaposition that our experience of the two are inextricably connected.

The exhibition has a diverse use of media and material — such as faux fur, collage, woven wire and beads, amidst others — and appeals to a contemporary taste. The video installation, created by Michelle Westmark Wingard and titled “Belgium/Minnesota (for Henry),” highlights a time-lapse focusing on a window. On the window is a decal of a landscape’s horizon juxtaposed against the real landscape. The sun comes in through the window, creating a shadow against the wall in the form of the landscape decal.

With the time-lapse, the shadow shifts and elongates as the sun moves through the day, recalling a “visual dialogue about landscapes, and passing of time” (Wall-text).

The exhibition also has some more representational and realistic works with portraits and landscapes in oil and photography.

Despite the diverse body of materials and visual language, there’s a lack of truly three-dimensional work. While some of the pieces incorporate three-dimensional aspects through their deep textures, incisions and layering, there are few objects that explore a more sculptural approach.

Nevertheless, the pieces are elaborate and consciously reaffirm a sense of beauty in humans, faith and our surroundings. “The Beautiful” is an exhibit that asks the viewer to slow down and engage with the pieces and their aesthetic, material qualities and connection to faith.

Besides “The Beautiful,” the Center Art Gallery has two additional exhibits showing in the smaller rooms: The Donna Spaan Collection — focusing on the action, quality and presence of light — and a photography collection put together from the permanent collection.

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