Karg Art Glass may be best known for its colorfully captivating glass designs, but the Kechi-based gallery is showcasing a more spiritual side this spring.
Its annual “Works From Faith” exhibit will feature reflections on Christianity from 15 artists. Spanning multiple media, the works are a personal expression of faith and creativity, as well as an invitation for the community to ponder the significance of how belief shapes one’s life. An opening reception with the artists and live music will launch the show Friday evening.
“It’s my favorite show because it brings in so many different artists to express their faith in their art,” said Sherry Waters, gallery event organizer. “You have every type of art expressed in this show, from paintings to jewelry, even to metal work. Being the Easter season, it’s an important time for this.”
Waters said she spent close to a year looking for artists to be part of the show. She focused on a local and regional search for talent. She was most interested in their personal stories and ability to illustrate their faith in a quality manner. The show is rich in liturgical imagery, with crosses, angels, crowns of thorns and renderings of Jesus and Mary often integrated into the works. Nature and outdoor scenery also are prominent in a nod to creation.
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The sizable space where the works are housed is an inviting atmosphere. Surrounded by hundreds of blown-glass formations and metallic statues that are normally on display and for sale, the collection accents the usual vividness of the gallery.
One of the first noticeable displays is a group of simple, yet fashionable metallic cutouts of seminal Bible verses, such as John 3:16 and Jeremiah 29:11. These are the creations of Vic and Jan Ford of Sperry, Okla. Their faith inspired them to craft messages of hope from scripture in the uncertain days following Sept. 11, 2001.
To the back of the gallery is a visually arresting painting entitled “The Five” by muralist Audrey Schultz. It is a tablet-like genealogical tracing of the female lineage of Jesus Christ, illustrating his origins from Mary’s perspective. It’s abounded by several striking images of houses of worship — both local and international. Photographer Krystal Bussart catches the spirit of Christianity’s global roots with her lens, having photographed several historic cathedrals in France and Italy. Kathy Besthorn showcases bright metallic renderings of many Wichita-area churches.
“I’m always surprised by the artists’ stories,” Waters said. “When you hear their story and see their work, that’s what really grabs you. A lot of these works cause you to really meditate upon your life through scripture references. Through this and with the symbolism, they remind you where you are in life.”
Waters is a retired USD 259 art teacher. She has worked part time in sales for three years at the gallery. Her Christian faith always has been central to how she interacts with art, and she said this show is a natural continuation of that. She has been inspired by the symbolism of trees, and the piece she has entered in the show mirrors an illuminated red, orange and yellow-leaved tree she saw in Austria. She said the sunlight amplifying the tree’s beauty is a metaphor for how she views faith.
“That’s what Christ’s work does ... it brings out the best in us,” she said. “I don’t create a piece without looking at God’s creation.”
Waters said she hopes all people who see the show will take away a sense that they aren’t alone and that there is a plan for their lives. She also hopes it reminds viewers that we have a lot to appreciate and be thankful for.
“When you look at how God created this world and all that has been provided, there is enormous appreciation. It’s from that appreciation that these artists create. It powers their art. They express appreciation for the talents they’ve been given in the works we have on display here. It’s all about living their faith.”