Exhibitions

TANGIBILITY OF FAITH: RELIGION IN THE ARTS IN APPALACHIA AND TENNESSEE

Reece Museum (ETSU) / 363 Stout Dr., Johnson City, TN January 2 - February 14th (Reception: January 31 5:00pm - 7:00pm)

Sassan Ahovan, Clorinda Bell, Rachel Boillot, William Cross+, Nancy Fischman, Joe Letitia, Jeff Marley, Jocelyn Matthews, Mary Nees, Masud Olufani, Halide Salam, Randy Sanders, Katie Sheffield, Page Turner, Nancy Villa-Calvo, Carlton Wilkinson

Curated by Amber Howard, Cheyenne Good and Moira Frazier

Tangibility of Faith is a multi-media group show exhibiting 16 artists in Appalachia and Tennessee who create work inspired by their personal spirituality or the faith of surrounding communities. The art depicts abstract and literal interpretation of icons, prophets, and symbols as well as photographs of congregations and places of worship. The exhibition will be held from January 2, 2019 until February 14th, 2019 at the Reece Museum on ETSU Campus and Tipton Gallery in downtown Johnson City from January 24, 2019 to February 22, 2019. There will be an interfaith panel including Father Matthews of the Christ the Savior Greek Orthodox Church in Bristol and contributing artists Dr. Halide Salam of the Muslim faith and Masud Olufani of the Baha’i faith on January 31 from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Reece Museum. Tipton Gallery reception will be on February 1 from 6 to 8 p.m. and will include a musical performance of Bluegrass/Gospel and traditional Iranian music by recent ETSU graduate Sassan Ahovan. For more information about hours or parking at the Reece Museum, please call 423.439.4392. For additional information about the exhibition contact Slocumb Galleries director Karlota Contreras-Koterbay at 423.483.3179.

Presented by the ETSU Department of Art & Design, Slocumb Galleries and the Reece Museum with funding from the Tennessee Arts Commission’s Art Project Support (APS) Grant.


Tangibility of Faith: Art and Religion in Appalachia and Tennessee is an exhibition featuring fourteen artists whose work captures unique elements from each practice of faith. Many of the artists in this exhibition directly incorporate their personal practices of faith in their work, while others choose to represent how a certain faith has shaped our community and environment. By incorporating a wide variety of religious expression, the goal becomes fostering a sense of togetherness, community, respect, and learning among all traditions. Dominant in numbers in the region are the many expressions of Christian faith, practice, theology, and thought. These include Catholic religious portraits by Peruvian and Knoxville-based artist Clorinda Bell; spiritual prints by Orthodox Christian artist Jocelyn Matthews, whose husband is the priest at Christ the Savior Greek Orthodox Church in Bristol; and works by printmaker and Christian missionary Mary Nees, whose abstracted landscapes are inspired by select quotes in the Bible. In the realm of three-dimensional representation, William Cross’ sculpture provides a fresh look at a well-known biblical metaphor, while Page Turner’s mixed media assemblages depict the life of Mormon sisterhood. In addition, the distinct yet parallel photo documentations of Rachel Boillot’s Cumberland Gap Project and Carlton Wilkinson’s images of Black Appalachia offer further expressions of the variety of ways Christian faith can and does manifest in this region.

Mexican-American artist Yancy Calvo-Villa, from Memphis, provides counterbalance with her ‘Hamsa' paintings, which act as representation of religious objects from the Old Testament and celebrate the presence of Judaism in the state of Tennessee. Likewise, the ceramic work of Nancy Fischman also explores the Jewish faith by combining its mortuary traditions with her personal interpretations of death. Furthermore, artwork by Muslim artist Dr. Halide Salam, a professor at Radford University, show non-figurative images that reflect the Islamic tradition and provide a glimpse of the complex and often misunderstood community of believers.

The goal to present an inclusive interfaith visual experience is also reflected by work from Baha’i artist, Masud Olufani, whose installation masterfully combines images of differing faiths as a critique of religious history. Baha’i faith, a spiritual denomination that respects the diversity of various messengers and considers them all Manifestations of God, sees the variety of religious traditions as a continuation rather than a contradiction, ultimately seeking “unifying vision for the future society on the purpose and vision of life.” This concept of unifying religious practice is found in the Unitarian Universalist practice, which is represented in this exhibition by Randy Sanders, a Unitarian Universalist turned Buddhist, whose work also presents an interfaith perspective.

The exhibition will be held from January 2, 2019 until February 14th, 2019 at the Reece Museum on ETSU Campus and Tipton Gallery in downtown Johnson City from January 24, 2019 to February 22, 2019. There will be an interfaith panel including Father Matthews of the Christ the Savior Greek Orthodox Church in Bristol and contributing artists Dr. Halide Salam of the Muslim faith and Masud Olufani of the Baha’i faith on January 31 from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Reece Museum. Tipton Gallery reception will be on February 1 from 6 to 8 p.m. and will include a musical performance of Bluegrass/Gospel and traditional Iranian music by recent ETSU graduate. For more information about hours or parking at the Reece Museum, please call 423.439.4392. For additional information about the exhibition contact Slocumb Galleries director Karlota Contreras-Koterbay at 423.483.3179.


image: Page Turner