Review: Art as Revelation
As Curator Nicole Ruta has said: “TheoArtistry is about a meeting of the ways: between theology and the arts, between theory and practice, and—in the latest TheoArtistry scheme—between text and image.”
TheoArtistry explores the vision reflected by their chosen emblems: Reconnect, Reiterate, Reveal, and now Revelation. The TheoArtistry: Text & Image scheme for 2021 brought together visual artists and researchers from multiple disciplines in a large, multifaceted research project. The participating scholars and artists collaborated within interdisciplinary groups to research and discuss ideas for the creation of new text-inclusive artworks.
As Anne Shirley of Anne of Green Gables aptly puts it: “There is a book of Revelation in every one’s life, as there is in the Bible”. While she is referring to the moment she realizes she has been in love with her good friend, Gilbert Blythe—which has little to do with the Bible in a literal sense—she alludes to the idea of revelation as a personal spiritual experience for the mind and soul.
This is the thematic tie which unites the works of the latest TheoArtistry Project, Art as Revelation. Spanning the Gallery upstairs at Innes on South Street, and the St Andrews Episcopal Church on Queen’s Terrace, this exhibition, combining the works of visual artists and researchers from several disciplines, explored what revelation means inside and out of a religious context. Art as Revelation dives into the relationship between texts and images. Featuring the work of 13 artists and those scholars who collaborated with them, the exhibition examines the many ways in which one can experience an artwork that involves words and language. Theology, while certainly considered in this examination, does not overpower this show’s artworks. Instead, the term ‘revelation’ explores the broader cognitive, psychological, and theological implications of text-inclusive artworks.
For example, in one mixed media textile piece by Becky Brewis, A Sequence, the words embroidered onto the edges of the tapestry are only legible if one looks at them through a mirror. Brewis’ collection of works in this show as a whole seek to defamiliarize the act of looking and perceiving in this way.
Alpha and Omega, another piece in the exhibition, is a collaborative painting by Taya De La Cruz and Alice Gavin Atashkar. The work combines the precise coloured lettering typical of De La Cruz’s style with the lush green natural painting that Atashkar usually gravitates to. Their styles, so different at first glance, combine to make a peaceful and harmonious work, giving one the sense of a new creation, and a new being.
In both Silenced Voices by Stefana McClure—Zwiegesprache Vom Unendlichen All Und Den We/ten, ash and Moleskine notebook, perforated archival ink-jet print, pearls—the idea of censorship is explored in partially and completely obscured text. While the Moleskine notebook contains the poetry of fourteenth-century Persian poet, lmadaddin Nesimi, her words are all covered by individual pearls, rendering them illegible. While in the other book, containing the words of sixteenth-century Italian philosopher-poet, Dominican friar, mathematician, Hermetist, and cosmologist, Giordano Bruno, the pages are covered in ash. Both authors were ultimately killed for their contributions to literature. Thus this mixed media metaphor for their censorship makes a powerful statement on the endurance of revelatory words, for, underneath those obscuring pearls and ashes, their ideas remain.
The Art as Revelation exhibition ended on 19 December, but you can still explore the works and the text created around them online at https://artasrevelation.org/. And remember to keep an eye out for future projects by TheoArtistry around St Andrews!