Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Sweet Fruits of Inspired Labors

 Sweet Fruits of Inspired Labors
by Tom Wachunas

    “…But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control…”
 -Galatians 5:22-23

    “…Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable -  if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things…”  - Philippians 4:8

    EXHIBIT: Unveiling the Beauty of Spirit – work by Deborah Woloschuk, THROUGH JULY 11, 2015, at The Little Art Gallery, located in the North Canton Public Library, 185 North Main Street, North Canton, Ohio

    NOTE: Deborah will be in the gallery from 3 to 7 p.m. on Wednesdays, June 24, July 1 and July 8, using it as a public studio, letting the gallery serve as a space for live art-making and education.

    I’m fairly sure that many of my fellow visual artists would agree that sometimes (perhaps many times?) formulating an edifying “artist statement” can be a frustrating process. As for me, it’s one that often stirs up a temperament so adversarial that the very idea of issuing a written statement about my art feels like an absurdly unnecessary exercise. After all, shouldn’t I respect the intelligence and sensitivities of viewers enough to let them see the work on their terms, without spoon-feeding them a guide to meaning? Or am I being too grouchy and presumptive?
    Probably. By that I mean that there is no consensus as to what constitutes a necessary function or content of artists’ statements. Some can be replete with artsy jargon, arcane terminology, and/or obtuse philosophizing, others too unsatisfying in their generalizations. So be it. That said, I enjoy those statements that employ simple, direct language along with a certain degree of ellipsis, calling on readers to fill in the blanks once they view the artist’s work, not unlike movie trailers that entice without giving away too much of the story.
    Deborah Woloschuk’s statement for this show is largely comprised of biographical information. But it’s the disarmingly honest opening sentence that proffers a meaningful summary of her motivations and intentions: “By faith and prayer, Deborah’s calling by the Master Artist is to appreciate beauty, to know compassion, and to seek truth through creativity.
    Most of you who read these missives of mine shouldn’t be surprised when I say that for all of its concise brevity, the sentence runneth over with implications that resonate deeply with me. Starting with “By faith and prayer,” and “…calling by the Master Artist,” it becomes clear enough that for this artist, making art is a way of honoring God, the Creator, the Author of the truth(s) she seeks.
   The gratifying significance of her statement is in how it sets up a contemplative context - without being overly didactic or preachy - for viewing her oil portrait, still-life, and floral subjects. These are traditional compositions, many of them exquisitely rendered, as in the superb detailing of Ornate Olive Jars, the stunning illusory textures of Vintage Iridescence, or the mystical light of the floral Moonlight Serenade.
    Mystical light indeed. The metaphorically titled In the Son is a portrait of a sports coach who I take to be a modern-day disciple of Christ. Sitting at his desk, his form is bathed in rhythmic stripes of sunlight pouring in through the blind on his office window. For sun, read Son.
     The marvelous suite of paintings under the collective title, Fruit of the Spirit, depicts a woman adorned and bejeweled with symbols of virtuous living. It’s a compelling homage to the spiritual transformation, promised in the New Testament, to those indwelt by God’s Holy Spirit.
  Woloschuk’s best paintings take me back to the realization that all art-making is (or should be?) a conscious response to what I have in the past called the remnant, or latent spark of Divine creative energy still extant in the human soul. This desire to create, to call something into being “from nothing”, is a vital part of our spiritual DNA. I believe that whether they know it or not, artists have been summoned to be stokers of a preternatural flame. In its warmth and light, Woloschuk’s answer to the call is an excellent and praiseworthy one.

    PHOTOS, from top: Ornate Olive Jars; Moonlight Serenade; Vintage Iridescence; Moonlight Madonna; Fruit of the Spirit (top row, left-to-right, Joy, Patience, and Goodness: bottom row, Peace, Kindness, Faithfulness

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