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Art Explores Religion

July 30 - September 28, 2003


Art Explores Religion, an exhibition by six New Jersey-based artists, will be on view in The Newark Museum's Community Gallery from Wednesday, July 30 until Sunday, September 28, 2003. A reception with the artists will be held on Sunday, September 14, 2003, from 2:00-5:00 p.m. Fifteen pieces of diversified media, including sculpture, paintings, collage and digital drawings, explore the relevance that organized religion will have in the 21st century.

Ela Shah (Montclair, NJ), Betty McGeehan (Momstown), Janet Taylor Pickett (Montclair), Vivian McDuffie (Montclair), Ilene Steglitz (New Vernon) and Gloria Rodriguez Calero (Jersey City) have come together, each bringing her own perspective, to explore the relevance of religion and spirituality in the world today.

Ela Shah's artwork, which deals with faith in this globalized world, addresses the conflicts between the spiritual and the material world. Her architectural sculptures are structures of faith - faith in one's self, humankind and divine power. Indian gods and goddesses go hand in hand with American pop culture icons such as Big Bird and Spider Man, because they all symbolize hope and justice.

Betty McGeehan uses made and found elements to examine whether religion is necessary to make decisions concerning creation.

For her contribution to Art Explores Religion, Janet Taylor Pickett uses the iconography of the dress as well as other personal motifs such as the heart, birds, landscape and the hand as a way of responding to spirituality.

For Vivian McDuffie, religion in the 21st century is, as always, an evolution of the spiritual, the political, and the social. And, as always, hypocrisy is in full bloom: What one professes and what one practices seem to be at odds. She expresses this theory through the use of oil on canvas paintings.

Ilene Steglitz, a digital artist, agrees. Like McDuffie, her work addresses the current crisis surrounding religion, specifically the way religion is used to promote political agendas. She manipulates religious symbols to illustrate this misuse.

Gloria Rodriguez Calero uses a self-invented term called acrollage painting. This mixed media technique is a combination of layers of acrylic paint, rice and images on paper. Rodriguez Calero uses contemporary urban imagery to evoke a new vocabulary of classical religious themes.

These six diverse, award-winning artists have been exhibited throughout the world and are included in numerous museum collections, such as The Newark Museum, The Museum of Modern Art Library, Noyes Museum, The Studio Museum of Harlem, as well as the corporate headquarters of Air India, AT&T, Ducati, Sprint, IBM, Toyota, Coca Cola and Mutual Benefit Life Insurance. All six are recipients of numerous awards and fellowships. McGeehan, Rodriguez Calero and Steglitz were recipients of Fellowships


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