Goucher's two-artist show, 'Shrines,' finds a new definition for what is sacred

November 13, 1992|By John Dorsey | John Dorsey,Art Critic

In "Shrines," the excellent two-person show at Goucher College, Shelley Hull and Jenni Lukac in their separate ways create art works that in some sense redefine the sacred.

Hull's paintings incorporate elements of the personal physical essence, and spread out from there to include family, the worlds of nature, art and religion itself. These images are often divided into three parts, like a church triptych, and at the bottom of the central portion, where the predella would be in an altarpiece, there is a rectangular opening in the canvas. In this opening are placed seed pods, nuts or other references to fertility. The parallel with the female body and its procreational function is clear.

"Family: Baseball and Sea Urchins" includes the worlds of the family, of nature and quite specifically of baseball -- but the suggestion is not so much of a particular sport or pastime as a symbol of those things that knit the family together.

"Reawakening" refers to woman as protector and nurturer. Trees become anthropomorphic in "Couple: Moonlight" and "Rooted," to suggest humankind's oneness with nature. And both "Reawakening" and "Herald" refer to Van Dyck's painting "Rinaldo and Armida," bringing art into the realm of the sacred.

Jenni Lukac's shrines are about breaking down barriers. Using religious books (such as the Bible), pictures, maps and other already existing objects, she creates works that defy the exclusionary and often confrontational nature of the world's religions by demonstrating instead what they have in common.

"Rabbi" combines a Jewish prayer shawl and a Sunday school picture of Jesus in the temple as a youth to remind us that Jesus was a Jew and that Christianity is rooted in Judaism. How often we forget or ignore that fundamental truth. The same message comes through "The Passover Seder," with its picture of the Last Supper.

Lukac's books, with pages hollowed out and charms, amulets and other objects inserted, were inspired (if that is the word) by the fact that this is not only the 500th anniversary of Columbus' discovery of America, it's also the quincentennial of the year when both the Moors and the Jews were thrown out of Spain. And "Missing: Silenced Witnesses" incorporates a historical map "Religious Divisions in Europe about 1600"; among the religious groups included are "Catholics," "Anglicans," "Mohammedans," "Lutherans," etc., but not Jews.

Hull's and Lukac's quite different but nevertheless complementary works add up to an extremely thought-provoking exhibit; they are well-installed and accompanied by a brochure with essays on both artists. Once again, way to go, Goucher.

'Shrines'

Where: Rosenberg Gallery, Kraushaar Auditorium, Goucher College, 1021 Dulaney Valley Road, Towson.

When: Mondays through Fridays 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., evenings and weekends when there are events in the auditorium.

Call: (410) 337-6116.

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