"Hallowed Be Thy Name" by Jason Hamacher

March 15, 2016 - May 1, 2016

History, Beauty, and Legacy of Syria's Endangered Christian Communities While staying with the Syriac Orthodox Archbishop of Aleppo, Mor Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim, during Lent and Holy Week in 2006 and 2007, Jason Hamacher experienced and documented the people, landscape, and culture of one of the oldest continuously inhabited regions in the world. In these images of Syria, we see the resiliency of a culture that has sustained for two millennia but currently faces endangerment in the midst of an ongoing civil war. Hamacher invites us to retrace his journey to these ancient sites and allows us to ponder the legacy and history that we inherit from those before us and what we forge for the generations that follow. 

As modern westerners, we catch glimpses of the devastation and destruction happening through the lens of our nightly news. Though the images may elicit some sadness and sympathy, the conflict in Syria feels distant and we move through our daily lives largely unaffected. The photographs in this exhibit depict a time of relative peace before the conflicts escalated, and the contrast of these images with what we now see of Syria magnifies the severe loss as we are threatened with the disappearance of a people, a culture, a way of life, and one of the closest remaining connections to the Early Church. 

In the decade since these photos were taken, much has happened to the people and places documented within: many of the buildings have been destroyed and the Archbishop was kidnapped by terrorists in April 2013 and has yet to be found. This exhibition commemorates the loss as much as it prompts us to consider the current conflicts and displacement within the fabric of the country's larger history, challenging the viewer to appreciate the richness of the past while striving to preserve the sanctity of faith and life for the future. 

"Never before in its history has Syria experienced any such monstrous, criminal acts. All Christian and Muslim citizens used to live in harmony, affection, solidarity, mutual help, national community … such that it was considered an Arab and world model.” — Patriarch Gregorios III,  Melkite Greek Catholic Church

Please visit www.lostorigins.com for more information on the artist.

Curated by Christina Young

"Desserted" by Jessica Olah

February 9, 2016 - March 6, 2016

The season of Lent in the Church is traditionally marked by the practice of denying and abstaining from certain luxuries as a form of penitence. For a period of approximately six weeks beginning on Ash Wednesday and ending before Easter Sunday, the focus is on simple living, prayer and fasting, with the aim of growing closer to God and preparing for the celebration that comes with Easter.

Even for those who do not observe Lent, fasting can be a beneficial practice that allows the individual to clear the mind and free the heart from excessive distractions, desires and dependencies. But to abstain from food is not always an easy task. Food is integral to our survival and tightly bound to the identity and experience of the emotional self; it has the power to recall memories, to evoke feelings of pain, pleasure, joy or regret. To deny oneself of comfort foods is just as much a test of one’s physical discipline as it is of one’s mental and emotional strength.

Jessica Olah started this series in the midst of her own fast from sugar. In a conspicuous display of self-denial, she captures others' moments of indulgence as she undertakes her own stretch of abstinence from the very same sugary delights. As we view these images of individuals taking great pleasure in consuming their favorite sweet treats, the artist invites us to consider the positive and negative aspects of desire and denial in our own lives, and the hunger to consume desire’s various manifestations.  What feelings do we associate with consumption? What happens when inordinate desires consume or control us? What happens when we choose to abstain?

About the artist:
Jessica Olah is an artist and illustrator originally from the California Bay Area and presently based in Brooklyn, NY. Her current work explores how we connect with food in the emotional, mental and social parts of our being. Most recently, Olah tasked herself with an “exercise of empathy” for her mother by making 2,340 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in five days in an effort to understand how much dedication it took her mother to make school lunches for her for 13 years. Olah has shown at Slope Suds and Dunwell Doughnuts in Brooklyn and participated in a number of group shows throughout NY and California.

Spark and Echo Arts 5th Anniversary: The Word Illuminated

January 14, 2016 - February 5, 2016

To "illuminate" means to "light up" or "help to clarify or explain". For five years, Spark and Echo Arts has been commissioning artists to create new work and share personal perspectives on Bible passages, bringing fresh illumination to ancient text. This project allows the artist to actively engage in meditation,  interpretation and application of living, breathing words. This exhibit featured highlights from the past five years: a celebration of individual and collective responses from the Bible.

As the Church celebrates Epiphany and moves from Christmas to Easter, we invite you to walk alongside these artists and dialogue with their visual responses even as you perhaps grapple with your own thoughts of meaning, faith, and life, and examine what it means for the Word to be illuminated and revealed.

Exhibiting artists: Melissa Beck, Lucas Bianchi, Jessie Brugger, David Czupryna, Nicora Gangi, Evelyn Lewis, Janna Luttrell, Aarti Sequeira and Emmitt Klein-Stropnicky. 
Curated by Blake Ruehrwein
Please visit www.sparkandecho.org for more information.