LAURA KNOWLES LNP CORRESPONDENT Art isn't always about flowers in bloom and robins in spring. Sometimes it's about pain and suffering and deepest sorrow.
While it may not be easy to deal with these difficult emotions, this Friday's art exhibit at the Community Room on King is titled “Emotive 2: A Good Friday Art Show.” The show will feature 10 local artists, most of them emerging artists.
This isn't the first time the Community Room on King has tackled the tough subject of art with deeper emotions like grief and loss of hope. Two years ago, “Emotive: A Good Friday Art Show” took the first step in a show about the more sorrowful side of life.
"When we did the first show, we were looking at the emotions as they relate to the story of Jesus dying on the cross for our sins," says curator Ryan Braught, a pastor for Veritas and organizer of the show. As he explains, the title "Emotive" has to do with strong emotions for or against something. And what could be stronger than the feelings of abandonment, grief, loss and hopelessness that we all feel at times?
"It seemed appropriate on this Good Friday to revisit these themes," says Braught, noting that in Matthew 27:46, Jesus cried out, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?"
Among the artists exhibiting their work in “Emotive 2” are Shalom Beachy, Luis Quiñones, Mike Rock, Melinda Houvig, Emily Meneghin, Grace Engard, Alexandria Bonner, Sammy Lang and Grace Rhine.
Houvig knows something about betrayal and loss. Her sculpture is a powerful testament to the life-altering loss she suffered when she was an art student at West Chester University.
Her piece is called "Stage 5." In Houvig's life-sized sculptural installation, she relives the trauma of being a senior in college when she learned that she had cervical cancer.
"I underwent a partial hysterectomy shortly after I graduated in May 2012," says Houvig "The surgery, and the diagnosis altered my life in many ways and the sculpture work functioned as a platform for a conversation about physical trauma and the resulting emotions that are left after losing organs and confronting never being able to have children."
At first glance, her sculpture appears to be a pile of leaves, branches and birds' nests. Interspersed are haunting body parts molded from her own body. A hand reaching out. A foot that has lost its bearings. A leg folded in hopelessness.
She refers to it as detritus, which is defined as "the pieces that are left when something breaks, falls apart, is destroyed." And her work depicts the resulting emotional trauma from losing physical elements or parts of the original human form.
Yet, in many ways, Houvig's expression of loss has a sense of hope. A year after her surgery, she was accepted into the MFA Studio Art program at Moore College in Philadelphia and will graduate in August to pursue her art career.
"The piece is meant to be outside and I hope to eventually find a buyer for it so that it can find a permanent residence outside on the land," says Houvig.
Photographer Luis Quiñones is new to the art of photography and he takes an inside-outside view of the world. From his home on South Prince Street, he has observed the seasons changing and the views of the city. He started off snapping shots with his smartphone, then invested in a real camera. His photograph of crows evokes Alfred Hitchcock with ominous black crows gathering on the branches of a tree outside his window. As he explains, birds like robins and bluebirds symbolize joy and happiness. Not crows.
"Crows are often linked with death," says Quiñones. "But I see them as symbolizing mortality and freedom. I am fascinated by birds because they are not tied down by regulation. They are free." Quiñones likes to work in black and white, because of its power and simplicity, as in another photograph showing a child wearing skeleton makeup.
"In dealing with the emotions of suffering and loss, we can see the way to finding peace and hope," says Braught.
If you go: “Emotive 2: A Good Friday Art Show Fri. 5-8 p.m. Free Community Room on King, 106 W. King St. 572-5914 communityroomonking.com facebook.com/CommunityRoomonKing