A trip to the Art Institute of Chicago…

Fall 2014 CARE grant recipient, Professor Rossitza Schroeder, traveled with her “Icons and Their Audiences” class from the Graduate Theological Union to visit, Heaven and Earth: Art of Byzantium from Greek Collections at the Art Institute of Chicago. Student reflections and photos are included below. Enjoy! Dr. Schroeder and students will be co-curating our Spring 2015 exhibition, Present Absence: Icons from the Collection of the Patriarch Athenagoras Orthodox Institute, in the Center for the Arts, Religion, and Education’s (CARE), Doug Adams Gallery.

CARE offers grants in support of projects that center on religion and the arts, with priority given to GTU students, faculty, and staff. Visit our website to apply! Spring 2015 deadline is February 23.

Colette and Yohana

Colette Walker, GTU Art & Religion Doctoral Student

Our class, Icons and their Audiences, taught by Prof. Rossitza Schroeder, had the extraordinary opportunity to view an impressive exhibition of Byzantine icons in Chicago this term, a trip made possible by a generous grant from CARE. As a class, we were able to visit the exhibition “Heaven and Earth: Art of Byzantium from Greek Collections” at the Art Institute of Chicago, where we were able to see numerous icons firsthand – including ones we had studied in class. I found that seeing them in person greatly enhanced my own understanding of how believers may have experienced them—for  example, it allowed me a visceral sense of the “presence” often referred to in connection with icons. Engaging with the physical objects also allowed us insights and triggered conversations that we may well not have had otherwise, such as our recognition that as contemporary scholars, encountering the undeniable marks of time and use (and in some cases abuse) visible on many of the works brought to mind forcibly for us the historicity of the icon—and the simultaneous recognition that such signs of age and wear likely would have been experienced quite differently by Orthodox believers in the Byzantine era. In addition, the opportunity to walk through the physical space of the exhibition and analyze the choices made by its curators and designers was incredibly inspiring and useful for us as we prepare to co-curate our own exhibition, “Present Absence: Icons from the Collection of the PAOI,” for the Doug Adams Gallery this coming Spring.

The Only Proof the Three of Us Went to Chicago

Yohana Junker, GTU Art & Religion Doctoral Student

Thanks to the support of CARE, our class “Icons and Their Audiences,” under the mentorship of Dr. Rossitza Schroeder, had the unique opportunity to visit the Art Institute of Chicago and take a close look at the exhibit Heaven and Earth: Art of Byzantium from Greek Collections. The exhibit presented exquisite artworks from the Byzantine era, ranging from painted icons, mosaics, illuminated manuscripts, liturgical textiles, to architectural portions of a church iconostasis and metal adornments. Some of the works in display had been presented to us in the literature studied in class. But having the opportunity to see these icons and works ‘live’ allowed us to pay attention to the ways in which seeing may have lead the way into believing in Byzantium. These spectacular objects were displayed as to allow very close viewing, so we were able to examine the mastery in which they were crafted as well as to imagine how the Byzantines handled them. Indeed, these icons have endured numerous interactions throughout the centuries and they continue to spark interest of a large audience—we were quite surprised at the number of visitors this exhibit received. This trip has also given us creative ideas on how to co-curate CARE’s Spring 2015 exhibition: Present Absence—Icons from the Collection of the PAOI.

A sneak peek of the exhibition

Doug Adams Gallery Intern Profiles Fall 2014

This Fall 2014 semester, the Center for the Arts, Religion, and Education (CARE), welcomes two new Doug Adams Gallery interns, Yohana Junker and Hannah Leah. We rely on both Yohana and Hannah to engage visitors, lead docent tours, and help behind the scenes- we would be lost without them!

Read more below and stop by during our regular gallery hours (T, Th, F, 10am-3pm) to visit!

Yohana Junker

Yohana 2013

PhD candidate in Art & Religion, Graduate Theological Union

How did you hear about CARE/Doug Adams Gallery?

During the process of searching for PhD programs with emphasis in Art and Religion, the Center for the Arts, Religion, and Education (CARE), an affiliate of the GTU, immediately caught my attention. CARE’s commitment to the advancement of artistic and religious formation offers a wonderful opportunity to participate in such an interdisciplinary exchange.

Why did you decide to volunteer?

Volunteering at the Doug Adams Gallery is a fantastic opportunity to closely engage the community during visitation hours as well as during the many events offered throughout the semester (lectures, receptions, panel discussions, etc.)

Interests & hobbies?

I am interested in studying how the oeuvre of contemporary artists and filmmakers reveal certain contradictions of the human condition and possible implications for our understanding of God and faith. As a painter, I explore such themes and motifs on canvas. As a spectator, I constantly look for opportunities to access film, music, dance, the visual arts, and literature. I also enjoy traveling to unexplored locations and learning about peoples’ cultures and ways of living.

What makes art and religion interesting to you?

The visual arts—as focus for theological exploration—opens up the possibility of combining the study of how works of art can cross pathways with religious belief. To me, this encounter not only creates a language to further interpret the human condition, but it also dares to probe that which remains mysteriously and transcendentally divine.

What would you like to see for the future of CARE/Doug Adams Gallery?

In the future, I envision CARE/Doug Adams Gallery continuing to launch, as it already has, remarkable partnerships with educational and cultural institutions around the Bay Area as to promote the advancement of scholarship and artistry.

Hannah Pheasant

PhD candidate in Art & Religion, Graduate Theological Union

How did you hear about CARE/Doug Adams Gallery?

I heard about the Doug Adams Gallery through Yohana Junker, who began working in the gallery earlier this year. She was incredibly passionate about the Alma López exhibit and asked me to volunteer when Lopez came to lecture for CARE.

Why did you decide to volunteer?

I had such a great experience at the Alma López reception that I decided to become more involved with the gallery.

Interests & hobbies?

I recently moved here from Washington D.C. and have spent most of my time taking exploring the Bay Area. I’ve been doing a lot of sight seeing.

What makes art and religion interesting to you?

What interests me most is how both disciplines affect people in an intrinsic and individual way. These subjects are visceral and ignite our deepest sensibilities.

What would you like to see for the future of CARE/Doug Adams Gallery?

I would love to see more community involvement and discussion around the work presented in the gallery. What I appreciate about the Lopez exhibit is how it brings relevant subject matter to the community and encourages dialogue in an open and accepting environment of fellow art lovers.

View current and upcoming exhibitions, events, and more online: care-gtu.org

Living Amongst Masterpieces or How to Survive the Beauty of Italy

Written by: Dr. Rossitza Schroeder, CARE/PSR Assistant Professor of Art and Religion

My title suggests that I have a recipe of how to deal with the overwhelming urge to weep when one sees Italy, or at least when one sees Venice and a slice of Tuscany, just as I did this past October. I actually do not have one; I simply gave into it, my eyes welling up with tears every time I looked at San Marco or at the stunning views that opened from Ponte dell’Accademia of the Grand Canal and of a parade of gorgeous Venetian facades.

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View from Ponte dell’Accademia of the Grand Canal and S. Maria della Salute on the right.

I cannot even put into words what I felt when I saw the glittering mosaic interior of San Marco, the multiple Bellinis, Titians, and Tintorettos in churches all around the city, or when I heard Vivaldi’s Four Seasons in Chiesa di San Vidal performed before an altarpiece by Vittore Carpaccio. Never in my life before, have I been surrounded by such transformative beauty that made my whole being buzz with energy, not letting me sleep with excitement about what I would see the next day. Before I left San Francisco I thought that Italy was going to be beautiful, but it was better. If this trip was scripted by the best writers and directed by the best directors in Hollywood I doubt that it would have been that perfect and that full of unexpected encounters and profound, and I would say, eternal beauty. I know now that I have to go back.

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The interior of San Marco looking toward the sanctuary and up into the central dome.


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Titian’s Assumption of Virgin Mary at Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari.

This past Spring semester I was awarded a grant from the Gladys Krieble Delmas foundation to examine the portraits in a fourteenth-century Byzantine manuscript at the Marciana Library. It was the Greek cardinal Bessarion who gave it, together with the rest of his collection, to Venice. I was hoping that by doing this I will be able to further trace the ancestry of a well-known yet still enigmatic portrait of the conqueror of Constantinople Mehmed II painted in 1480 by one of the leading artists in the Republic—Gentile Bellini. The book contains scientific treatises among which are Ptolemy’s Geography and Heron’s Pneumatica and Automata. Having belonged once to a famed Byzantine painter—Michael Astrapas, whose signature is seen on the manuscript’s first page—it fortuitously relates also to my interest in monastic contemplative practices and the visual arts. Michael was one of the main progenitors of the monumental church programs I have been studying in the past ten years. But what is most important on folios 3 and 4 there are two understudied portraits of a man and a woman, both dressed in oriental costumes yet looking, if we are to judge from the surviving visual record, like most members of the last Palaeologan dynasty. I was intrigued by the fact that the Turkic dignitary’s facial features associated him with the ruling Constantinopolitan emperors, visually incorporating him into the larger family of princes that the Byzantines built and fostered so purposefully. If this is indeed true, then my argument that Gentile painted Mehmed to resemble the penultimate Byzantine emperor, John VIII, and thus to belong to an uninterrupted line of royal succession, would make that much more sense. I wish everyone the privilege to handle an old book, and to feel the awe of knowing that it was once touched by people who lived hundreds of years earlier. While I managed to gather significant amount of information after carefully studying the manuscript’s script and illustrations I am not sure where exactly I will go with it; like my favorite medical doctor on television, Gregory House, I have the symptoms but am unable, for now, to make a diagnosis.

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The portraits in Marciana, gr. 516

What surprised me most about Venice was how effortlessly eclectic it is; Byzantine reliefs from various time periods adorn the façade of its main church and coexist together with mosaics of dramatically different styles in its interior. In the church of San Zaccaria an early sixteenth-century stately altarpiece by Giovanni Bellini is framed by exuberant Baroque paintings. A gorgeous Byzantine Madonna graces the interior of San Francesco della Vigna together with a beautiful Gothic Mary by the Greek artist Antonio da Negroponte and an altarpiece by Titian. On the backdrop of this grand display of artistic media and styles right next to each other, Gentile’s portrait of Mehmed makes perfect sense—similarly polymorphos, or perhaps polyphonos, it fits easily into the obvious Venetian paradigm of mixing and matching. I am convinced, almost, that the painting was intended for a Venetian audience.

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One of the Byzantine relief Virgins on the façade of San Marco.


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Giovanni Bellini’s Altarpiece at San Zaccaria. 

Tuscany is very different. The gauzy and seductive views of Venice changed into crisp and cheerful landscapes that had remained untouched by the fall’s palette. Thanks to the foresight and generosity of good friends I spent two days in the small town of Poppi which charmed me with its towering castle, stone buildings, and narrow streets, as well as with the unexpected ‘discoveries’ of a tall thirteen-century icon in the church of San Fedele and the frescoes in the castle’s chapel by one of Giotto’s pupils—Taddeo Gaddi. We visited the site where St Francis received the stigmata at La Verna and where nature is lacy and forgiving. I expected that unicorns would emerge from behind the trees and that hobbits would show up from below exposed aged roots. Our trip fittingly ended in the Uffizi where Botticelli’s ‘dancing’ Virgin from the Annunciation took my breath away and where Leonardo’s first forays into painting can be seen. But it was a different work before which I unexpectedly and completely disintegrated, in a good way—the fourteenth-century Annunciation by the Sienese artist Simone Martini. I have seen this painting reproduced many times; I have admired the angel with his flowing tartan cape and the demure Virgin with her book, but I had never noticed before that as Gabriel speaks, his words come out in relief. That which is invisible to human eyes is here made not simply visible but palpable. I have always known that words matter, but it is for the first time that I saw them being given a weighty, so to speak, appearance, matching their tremendous importance in reversing the fortunes of humanity through the Incarnation. Their materiality anticipates, in a way, the Word taking on flesh in Mary’s womb. I am certain that my friends had to pull me away from this painting promising me ecstatic experiences before other masterpieces. Typically however, my mind kept going back to Simone’s glorious rendition as I was and still am in awe of its profound theological message even after seeing several Raphaels, a few Parmigianinos, and a handful of Caravaggios, all of them arresting and ineffable.

I cannot provide a conclusion to this story because it is still developing. I will surely relive and rethink my experiences, but what I hope most is that I will re-visit, again, the magical land called Italy.

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Simone Martini’s Annunciation at the Uffizi in Florence.

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 www.care-gtu.org


-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 music@stjohnsla.org


“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. lauriewohl.com


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