Mining the Collection: Evidence of Life Exhibition Comments

Last week, University of California undergraduate students were invited to view Marianne Lettieri’s exhibition in the Doug Adams Gallery as part of their class titled, ‘Summer English Language Studies”. This course is specifically designed as an immersion summer class for international students.

Here is a link to the students’ blog. Scroll down to “Rose Window” to view their comments. Enjoy!


Artist Interview: Marianne Lettieri

Mining the Collection: Evidence of Life
June 10- August 29, 2014
Guest Artist, Marianne Lettieri


This summer, we have enjoyed hosting Bay Area visual artist, Marianne Lettieri. Lettieri earned her MFA in Spatial Arts from San Jose State University, and BFA from University of Florida. Lettieri also serves as Vice President of CIVA (Christians in the Visual Arts) and is founder of Arts of the Covenant, a group for artists in the San Francisco Bay Area who are interested in the intersection of visual art and faith. She is a member of the Pacific Rim Sculptors Group and the International Sculpture Organization. Her recent exhibitions include: By Mainly Unexpected Means, Meridian Gallery, SF, Poetics of Disposability, Triton Museum of Arts, Santa Clara, Changing Context, Azusa Pacific University, and Dark Inheritance, Palos Verdes Art Center.

Q: In your work, you often use everyday objects you described as, “artifacts that people keep and eventually discard along with the memories that are embedded in them”. Could you describe what role memory plays in your work?

A: Although I often use materials with family history, I am not necessarily interested in their personal histories. Mostly, I’m interested in the collective memories of visitors. The objects chosen for this show represent everyday professions, and therefore embody the past of unknown individuals. My work process is similar to how archaeologists use artifacts to discover material traces of people and what important roles they played in their life’s history.

Q: You use found objects as medium of choice in this show. When did you first decided to use found objects?

A: For me, the past becomes real when I look at an object that shows the evidence of time. Used and worn, each object conveys memories of people I have known in the past; it is a way for me to remember them. Reliquary is a piece of work, which reflects an individual’s past, almost embodying their spirit. I want to run away from found objects, but I keep coming back to things that reflect the past! I sometimes use materials that are interesting in themselves because they are considered antiques, through the art making process however, I transform them into something extraordinary. Because my aesthetic is the cast-off, tattered, and torn, my intent is to bring the voice of the objects alive and present them as their own.

 Maker Reliquary

Maker Reliquary, 2014

Q: Many items in this show are traditionally used by women. Is there a message concerning the traditional work of women in the home?

A: When an artist uses objects of domesticity, it is difficult to ignore issues of feminism. In this show, I reference work of all kinds, of both men and women. If I’m making a feminist statement at all, it is to honor traditional women’s work. I believe my generation made the error of developing a hierarchy of work for woman. I believe the work ethic and idea of people using their hands to make a living for themselves is advantageous. Currently, I’m working on a series of children’s toys, which are devoted to an adult’s occupation. The strangeness of giving children ways to take care of them, their homes, and communities speak volumes.

For more information and upcoming exhibitions, please visit


-Lily Manderville, Programs Manager

Center for the Arts, Religion, and Education | Doug Adams Gallery


Artist Interview: Paul Roorda

Artist Interview: Paul Roorda, Icon & Artifact

February 4-May 23, 2014, Doug Adams Gallery


Our Spring Doug Adams Gallery artist, Paul Roorda, visited his exhibition, Icon & Artifact, to explain his creative process and the concepts he deliberately presents in his work.

The methods and materials Roorda uses in his work are as important as their meanings. For example, in Hold and Keep, the age-old process of melting beesewax to work as a film on watercolor paper, creates a surface where Roorda is able to scratch, dent, and rub rust into its surface, creating a textured, aged appearance. Using found objects as materials, such as rust from old nails, Roorda’s work suggests a sense of nostalgia, memory, and hope, carefully inserted into the fine details of each piece. Matthew (Parable), Mark (Last Supper), Luke (The Passion), John (Miracle) are rendered using pages from each Gospel in the New Testament, comprising of illustrations using butterfly wings, reminiscent of the icons illuminated in traditional Bibles. The imagery used in Keys and Nails, is a metaphor of being locked in and locked out, suggesting the representation of one’s own spiritual journey, which might require interpreting tradition in order to find significance in one’s life. The slate tiles used in Icon Lament, Memento, Corona Rest, are from the roof of a 100-year-old church. The Greek crosses and squares that have been cut into each slate, indicate penetrating the boundaries of tradition with new beliefs. With each piece in the exhibition infringing on the traditional, Roorda’s work almost becomes unfamiliar, as it seeks to widen the understanding of our current beliefs, and questions the rigidness of their customs.

Using a combination of mixed media and visual metaphors, Roorda’s work unlocks a series of questions concerning the use of sacred material and the religious tradition of discarding Bibles. Icons VI, VII, V, Remembering the Book VI, V, III, Reliquary, Silent Word, have all been created using Bibles, burned pages, clove oil, egg yolk, and egg tempera. By using materials traditionally used in paintings of icons, Roorda in addition, creates work that embodies the individual histories of each Bible used; a collection of personal stories preserved in an eternal ritual, through art.

-Lily Manderville, Programs Manager, CARE/Doug Adams Gallery

To see the works mentioned in this interview, please visit the Doug Adams Gallery

1798 Scenic Ave.

Berkeley, CA

Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, 10am-3pm

The Opening Reception will be held on Thursday, February 6th, 6-7:30pm. Come meet the artist and enjoy refreshments and live jazz music!

Paul Roorda uses ashes, gold leaf, and discard Bibles to transform traditional Christian art and ritual. Roorda creates ceremonial vessels, reliquaries, and icons that reflect a neo-liturgical approach to the disposal of aged and damaged scared texts and objects.

Paul Roorda lives in Waterloo, Ontario and makes art using discarded books, vintage medical objects, and found materials. His work investigates changing belief systems, the construction of knowledge, and the practice of ritual in religion, science, medicine, and environmentalism.

In Canada, Roorda has exhibited extensively, including shows at the Toronto School of Theology, the Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery, the Institute for Christian Studies, Redeemer University Art Gallery, and Wilfrid Laurier University. In the U.S., Roorda has exhibited at the Dadian Gallery at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C. The Doug Adams Gallery is proud to present his inaugural California show. Roorda will introduce new works in a solo exhibition in Hilsbach, Germany in July.

Roorda has been awarded grants from the Ontario Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts, in addition to becoming a finalist for Australia’s Blake Prize for religious art. His work is found in numerous collections, including the Donovan Collection at the University of Toronto. Roorda has served on the City of Kitchener Public Art Working Group as well as the board of CAFKA, the Contemporary Art Forum of Kitchener and Area. He was the Artist in Residence for the City of Kitchener, and the subject of an episode of “The Artist’s Life,” which aired on Bravo! TV.

“Icon/Artifact”, works by Paul Roorda February 4-May 23, 2014

CARE Fall 2013 grant recipient, Patricia McKee, invites you to “The Elephant Man”, by Bernard Pomerance. The play opens January 30 for a limited engagement at historic St. John’s Episcopal Cathedral in Los Angeles.

The church’s Romanesque revival architecture will serve as an abstract backdrop for what director Patricia McKee regards as Pomerance’s critique of Christian charity countered by his poignant rendering of divine love.


The Elephant Man by Bernard Pomerance

Directed by Patricia McKee

Mark McClain Wilson at John Merrick and Maria Olsen as Mrs. Kendal

St. John’s Episcopal Cathedral

514 W. Adams Boulevard in Los Angeles

Thursdays through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m., January 30 – February 8, 2014

Tickets $25 and $15 students/seniors

For reservations, call (213) 747-6285 ext. 106 or email

“The Elephant Man” by Bernard Pomerance

Interview with the Artist: Laurie Wohl

For more information about Laurie Wohl and her work you can visit her website: www.


Before the Opening Reception for Laurie Wohl’s exhibition, Birds of Longing: Exile and Memory, I had the pleasure of speaking with her about her work and background as an artist. Laurie Wohl, an internationally recognized fiber artist, lives and works in New York City, where her pieces are held in the collections of the Museum of Arts & Design and the American Bible Society, in addition to numerous other public and private collections. She has also given a series of lectures and workshops at home and abroad, including South Africa, on art and faith, art and worship, resistance to apartheid, and textiles as narrative and ritual. The questions in this interview are inspired by the current exhibition and its content in the Doug Adams Gallery.

Q: How would you describe the parallels between the religious texts you chose as both visual and poetic?

A: In “Birds of Longing,” I show the similarities and striking parallels of contemporary poetry of the Middle East, and the Jewish, Muslim, and Christian poetry and spiritual texts from the Convivencia period in Spain. There are the common themes of exile, nostalgia for Andalusia, spiritual love, enemies and reconciliation. Portions of these texts are included in my pieces here. The unwoven forms are inspired by – are a visual interpretation of – these amazing texts.

I use Hebrew and Arabic calligraphies because they are beautiful – the Arabic is especially lyrical – and to convey the time element of the texts. I also used Greek for the New Testament texts. The calligraphy also becomes a design element in my work, and relates to my iconography – the little figures I have developed

Ezekiel – which is the foundation piece of the exhibit – is a response to the events of September 11, 2001. I live in New York City. The desolate imagery of the valley of dry bones came into my mind – seeing the ashes, the photographs of those lost. The architecture of the unwoven parts of the piece evokes a ghost of the Twin Towers. As I studied the Ezekiel further, I saw that it also speaks of hope and resurrection. Through my art, I’ve worked on interfaith projects for many years, particularly focusing on Christian-Jewish dialogue. In the years after September 11, as Islam came more into our political and cultural consciousness – and many Muslims were demonized – I wanted through my art to contribute to a better understanding of the relationship of the three Abrahamic religions. I wanted to make the world of Islam more comprehensible to others. Not to say everything and everyone is the same, but I wanted to show the common themes and imagery, and show how we feel, speak in similar ways.


Q: Working closely with Muslim, Jewish and Christian faiths, how do you define yourself spiritually and are your own beliefs represented in your work?

A: I grew up in an era of assimilation, not in an era of ethnic diversity. I remember in my Sunday school class, we visited ten different churches. When my sons heard this, they were shocked, because their generation prizes ethnic specificity.

I so appreciate the beauty of Christian ritual, imagery – and of course, there is the music of Bach! I’ve also read a lot in the Eastern religions. The mystical and meditative elements are very appealing. I was raised in Reform Judaism. And I was very close to my maternal grandfather, who was an Orthodox rabbi. For myself,  Judaism – it is just part of me.

Interfaith work is not unusual for me – it comes very naturally. But I know that many Jewish artists find that unusual! My interfaith projects came about when people were first expressing interest in Jewish and Christian dialogue. All of my Church commissions, and private commissions contain Hebrew as well as English texts, at the request of the various clients.


Q: What role does sound and music play in connection to your art? How did the process of creating the soundscape perhaps change your perception of your work?

A: I often have music on in my studio. The “Birds of Longing” project is the first time that I have incorporated music into a project. It is so important for people to hear the sounds of the languages, to hear the similarity of Arabic and Hebrew. The soundscape literally gives voice to the texts – we used native speakers of Arabic and Hebrew, both from Israel. As background to these spoken texts, the composer – my nephew Daniel Wohl – adapted portions from the album “Provenance” by Maya Beiser, which highlights music from the period of the Convivencia.


Q: What should viewers understand about textile work? How is it different than other mediums- oil painting, ceramics, etc.?

A: I enjoy working with canvas as a textile because it becomes a more living medium. The fabric is more than just a surface for paint. You can go inside it! At first, I tacked canvas to the wall rather than wrapping it on stretchers. But the material still felt static. So, I started pulling threads, opening up different spaces. As I worked, I created different shapes, reflecting and incorporating texts. I learned that there is a long history of narrative textiles – textiles used in spiritual settings, everyday textiles, textiles wrapping both the newly born and the deceased. The beads I use are yet another way of working with color, texture, and rhythm. I think of beaded doorway curtains, the rosary, worry beads – they create a “veil” – and, for me, they are also prayers and marking points – for meditation.

Interview by: Lily Manderville, Programs Manager, Center for the Arts, Religion and Education

Upcoming Fall Exhibition Preview

This September, we will welcome New York based artist, Laurie Wohl and her exhibition titled, Birds of Longing. Accompanying her work will be music adapted by Daniel Wohl from portions of the album “Provenance” by Maya Beiser.  Attached is a review from Sunday’s New York Times of his new classical music album, ‘Corps Exquis’.

Will There Yet Come


Wohl’s opening reception will be held on Thursday, September 11th at 5pm in the Doug Adams Gallery.

Daniel Wohl: ‘Corps Exquis’