Images of faith

For centuries, artists have strived to express their faith and spirituality through their works — in paintings, sculptures, and many other media. In the 21st century, they still do. Karg Art Glass gallery in Kechi has become a place where Wichita-area artists can show their devotion to religious life at Easter.

The gallery's "Works of Faith" exhibition, now in its fifth year, is showcasing the work of 15 artists this year.

"We love having this exhibit," says gallery assistant Sherry Waters. "It is wonderful to see how different artists interpret their inspiration of the Christian religion.

"There is always a huge variety. It brings in so many different artists and different media."

On display are liturgical works in ceramic, fiber, photography, mosaics, wood, paintings and glass.

David Self, a ceramics instructor at Wichita Heights High School, says a Scripture passage inspired him to create devotional works.

"I had never thought about using my artwork as a means to convey my faith until I read the passage, 'Everyone who acknowledges me publicly here on earth, I will also acknowledge before my father in heaven,' " he writes in an artist's statement. "It was then that I realized I had a great opportunity to use my work as a way to spread the message of the gospel."

Self has created a series of wood-fired ceramic vessels and objects, each with three subtle markings painted in the glaze. The markings are symbolic of the Holy Trinity, he says, and are his way of acknowledging Christ in his work.

Michele Isaac, another artist in the exhibit, quilted a version of Joseph's Coat, with meticulous attention to detail and color.

"The manipulation of gorgeous colors was perfect to tell the story of Joseph found in Genesis 37," she says. "It is the story of family suffering and the development of strong character and wisdom. Quilts are like that in character; they get cut, ironed, pieced and stitched and only in the end is their character revealed."

While some of the works in the exhibit are overtly religious, others are more subtle. Photographer Neil Marcus, for example, offers black and white images of Italian cathedrals in the hill towns of Umbria, Italy, to express his faith.

Waters has created a large fiber piece depicting a tree glowing with color. It's called "The Tree of Atonement."

"The fiery red color of the tree's leaves represents all of the sins that the tree has taken on before it drops its leaves in the winter to become a clean slate and receive new leaves and start a life in the spring," she says. "Like Christ did for us, he took all of our sin so that we could have a new life."

If you go

'Works of Faith'

What: Spiritual art in various mediums by 15 Wichita-area artists

Where: Karg Art Glass gallery, 111 N. Oliver, Kechi

When: On view through May 29

How much: Admission is free. For more information, call 316-744-2442.