Long before recorded history, humans identified divinity in the natural world. Across the globe, cave paintings and petroglyphs represent the land, the animals and the supernatural. Prehistoric burial mounds and henges of Northern Europe align with equinoxes and solstices. At Newgrange in Ireland, decorated stone carvings record the phases of the moon and depict rays emerging over the horizon at sunrise. Contemporary viewers can only infer the exact meanings of these monumental relics, etched with waves, spirals and diamonds juxtaposed with recognizable imagery.
As contemporary innovation, architecture, technology and design increasingly position each person as the master of their own exclusive universe, the artists in Concerning The Spiritual In Landscape have humbly venerated the life-giving light, ever-present matter and perpetual cycles of nature that bring forth all things.
Martha Armstrong, Larry Francis, Mari Elaine Lamp, Bruce Pollock, Jeffrey Reed and Celia Reisman have found a form of sanctity within cities and suburbs. In their works, highway bridges become cloisters. Powerlines reference crosses from Abrahamic faiths. Glimmering sunlight offers a taste of milk and honey as it streams through familiar manmade structures.
Venturing further into Arcadia, Perky Edgerton, Kurt Moyer, and Thomas Paquette practice shinrin-yoku, or “forest bathing”, in the sacred atmosphere of the woods. Rich and complex colors in their works suggest a potpourri of smells, sounds and sights, veritable field guides to the Divine. Douglas Martenson exalts a saintly boulder on the rocky shores of coastal Maine, while Ann Lofquist paints pastoral panoramas and picturesque suggestions of a promised land.
Colleen McCubbin Stepanic and Ying Li’s vivacious colors praise the environment’s plentiful foliage and flowers. Likewise, Michael Gallagher, Kati Gegenheimer and Bethann Parker observe compelling patterns in nature. For Gallagher, human perception is in constant dialogue with the earth’s landscape, opening philosophical inquiries into what exists and what is known. Gegenheimer and Parker document the cycles that chronicle life, such as the rising and setting of the sun, interpreting preserved teachings in their painted works.
The ineffable bond between landscape and spirituality attests to the intimate connection and reverence humankind has had for the natural world since the earliest forms of material culture. In Concerning The Spiritual In Landscape, the perceptibly divine is on full display, enriching our lives, both collectively and as individuals.