Alumni Building Understanding, Both In Faith And Art

By Tim Chapman, Daily News-Record

Sacred art by EMU alums on exhibit
Asbury United Methodist Church is featuring a new exhibit, “Elements,” in its Sacred Arts Series. The exhibit runs through Nov. 14 and features expressionist acrylic paintings by Kari Martin and Rachael Harnish (shown).

Just as Christians strive to grow in their understanding of God, Kathy Pigg believes everyone needs to grow in their understanding of art.

Pigg, the artist in residence at Asbury United Methodist Church, hopes a new exhibit in the Sacred Arts Series will do both.

Through Nov. 14, the acrylic expressionist paintings of Kari Martin and Rachael Harnish, both 2010 graduates of Eastern Mennonite University, will be exhibited in the Asbury Hospitality Center. The show’s theme, “Elements,” explores the use of lines, colors, shape, space and texture.

“I think we’re pushing the envelope, perhaps, a little bit with expressionist paintings,” Pigg said. “I mean most people identify more closely with the expressions of things they can identify, you know, a tree, a house.

“But when you’re talking about emotions many people understand that expressionist painting is an expression of emotion, as well as fact.”

Martin explores emotions through expressionism

Traditionally a realist, Martin used her “Series of Entanglement” to branch out and explore her own emotions through expressionism.

“I had a year where a lot of significant things happened,” Martin said. “I relied heavily on going back to those times and moments and reflecting and translating that into color and line and movement.”

Martin’s three pieces – “November 2009, Part 1,” “November 2009, Part 2” and “December 2009” – express her emotions during those months. She first presented the series in May for her senior thesis project.

The series uses deep, swirling reds, blues, purples and yellows.

“I didn’t share the experiences when I gave my gallery talk last May,” Martin said. ” … But I hope [people] can take away the energy and some of the emotion in the piece. Hopefully they can relate to their own life and conjure up feelings.”

Harnish’s work includes ‘Shenandoah Queen’

Harnish’s work uses black lines in motion. The lines accompany strong red, orange and yellow forms in one painting. Harnish has five pieces in the gallery. She said the black parts represent her compulsion to doodle.

“I was inspired by [EMU professor] Cindy Gusler to try that in paint and then used the idea of combining that with the free-form, slapped-on paint,” Harnish said.

Harnish added the fifth painting, “Shenandoah Queen,” to her collection just last week, after being inspired by her grandmother’s death.

“I was able to get those emotions and express them in a beautiful way,” Harnish said.

Martin works for Explore More, formerly the Harrisonburg Children’s Museum, and has career aspirations in arts administration and public arts outreach.

Harnish said art is more of a hobby that she hopes will become more sustainable.

Exhibit info

The art is on display Sundays from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and by appointment with Kathy Pigg.

For more information, call 828-4469.

Learn more

EMU’s Visual & Communication Arts program