"Ruah" by Mike McManus

January 5, 2017 - February 27, 2017

“The human heart feels things the eyes cannot see, and knows what the mind cannot understand.” — Robert Valett

In a place such as New York City, populated by many who pride themselves on their educated backgrounds, we tend to put intellect on a pedestal. We value the power of rationalization and gravitate towards intellectualizing everything, even the spiritual. Yet when we witness a great work of art like Rothko's color fields, listen to Handel's Messiah, or watch Anna Pavlova dance, something resonates within us deeper than rationalization, and we recognize that perhaps what we know with our head may not be there all there is. 

In this exhibition entitled "Ruah", Mike McManus seeks to understand God through a creative practice of personal worship and meditation. Supplementing traditional church and religious Christian practices, McManus works out the deep utterings and groanings of his spirit as a visual "speaking in tongues" or communication with God through art-making. One series grows and morphs into another and the works become metaphors to the artist's development both physically and spiritually. Prayer language becomes Living Stones and Living Stones becomes Tapestry as the visual progression goes from complicated and repetitive cycles of lines to an energized, yet peaceful and unified whole. By viewing the works in a slow meditative movement, the audience is invited to consider the unspoken prayers of their own hearts. 

Photos by Godwell Andrew Chan
Curated by Christina Young

About the Artist:
Mike McManus was born and raised in Bronx, New York to a working class family in an Italian neighborhood. As a child McManus was always drawing, collaging and writing short stories, books, and poetry. As a teenager he found an influence in hip-hop, sports, and fashion and started tagging up graffiti, rapping, and drawing logos, symbols, and designs.

McManus earned a scholarship to Drexel University to study theater and dramatic writing but eventually chose to follow his brother and father into the construction trade. McManus learned new materials and how to manipulate them while installing heating and cooling systems. These skills eventually fused with his performance and theater background to form what his creative process is today, a fusion of performance, words, and visual art.