Sunday, September 10, 2017

Local Art Seen: Sarah Brokke's Reliquaries of the Sacred Feminine

"She Only Sleeps Under the River" (2016)
Friday evening was the opening for Sarah Brokke's new show Reliquaries of the Sacred Feminine at 315 Gallery in the Central Hillside here in Duluth. That Ms. Brokke has become influential in the local arts was attested to by the fact that there were no available parking spots between Third and Fourth Streets when I arrived for the event, a first in my recollection. The modest sized gallery space was crowded and abuzz.

Knowing the meaning of the word Reliquary is helpful toward understanding the intentions of the work. A "reliquary" is a container for relics. In Catholicism it might be a container for the sacred remains of saints, such as a piece of cloth the saint wore, bone fragments, etc. Buddhists, Hindus and other religions also have relics which are maintained in shrines. In the Western world the word is most associated with Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Christianity. Brokke teaches art at the College of St. Scholastica, hence the borrowing of language and imagery associated with Catholicism.

In her artist statement she begins by noting that this body of work "is a personal exploration of the Sacred Feminine." The word "sacred" is likewise a religious word, meaning "connected with God (or the gods) or dedicated to a religious purpose and so deserving veneration."

"She Wears Poppies in Her Hair" (2016)
The images in this body of work, she explains, are an effort to explore and "to unpack my own perception of my gender expression through traditions and rituals I was both raised with and continue to deconstruct within my work."

In viewing her work I note a continued fascination with blues and blue-green or aquamarine hues, so much so that I am half tempted to re-name the color "Sarah Brokke Blue." Is the color extracted from the Big Lake in some way? Or from an unspecified inner space. On her Facebook page related to this show includes a quote by Anaïs Nin: "We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are."

"She Removes Her Heart So She Can See"
"She Snips Away While They Sleep" (2016)
"She Chases the Light in the Unending Destruction" (2017)

"She Cuts Down Trees At Night" (2017)

* * * *
On Tuesday, September 12 artist Moira Villiard will be hosting an art opening, birthday celebration and fundraiser at the Red Mug Coffeehouse in Superior, WI from 5:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m. Her colorful portraits and surrealism will be displayed alongside artist Steven Boyyi's most recent body of incredible paintings that depict animals and daily living in his home country of Uganda.

MEANTIME, art goes on all around you. Engage it!

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