I feel honored that my painting, Balance, was featured in publicity and press for the Sacred Voices exhibit, curated by Michele Waalkes for the Canton Ohio Museum of Art.
It was featured on the mailed publicity postcards, on the Museum entrance banner, and in two articles. To the left is the photo of the museum entrance banner. Balance is in the lower right corner.
I was interviewed, along with three other exhibiting artists, by Linda Feagler of the online zine, OHIO (http://www.ohiomagazine.com/) about the origins of my piece, “Balance,” and how I began to create multi-faith art. Here are my edited and elaborated excerpts of her article, Spirit Guide: The Canton Museum of Art spotlights works that have been shaped by faith.
“The works are bold and personal. In many cases, they are born of struggle, sorrow and the hope that even life’s worst travails ultimately give way to strength and growth. Beginning December 5 and continuing through March 2, the Canton Museum of Art is spreading that message with two compelling exhibitions. “Sacred Voices” showcases works by 37 artists from around the world who symbolize their personal doctrines in a variety of mediums. A companion exhibit, “Illuminating the Word: The Saint John’s Bible,” offers a new look at the sacred tome by way of 160 illustrations, hand-drawn between 2000 and 2011 by scribes and calligraphers spanning the globe.
“In choosing the pieces for [“Sacred Voices”], I was looking for artists whose beliefs are embedded in their creative process and who convey a distinct spirituality,” says the exhibit’s curator, Michele Waalkes. “But,” she adds, “it’s not about differences. It is about how faith inspires art, and how art can also inspire faith.”
“Shams was in the midst of a spiritual crisis that spurred her beyond her Christian heritage to explore other faiths. She visited Mennonite meetinghouses, Jewish tabernacles and Buddhist temples. She studied Judaism, Christianity and Islam. “I learned that many religious beliefs are universal in just about every faith,” she says.
“One idea I studied, that is particularly important to me, is a Jewish mystical principal about how we understand the nature of God. It’s the idea that there are two divine polarities — power/judgment on one side and compassion on the other. When judgment overcomes compassion, evil enters the world. Perhaps the view of a divinity that condemns “the other” is a lopsided view, and the evil that enters in the world is violence against “the other.”
“Her acrylic painting, “Balance,” puts that perception into perspective. In it, Shams incorporates traditional symbols of Judeo-Christian, Jewish and Muslim faiths associated with love and power. Harmony in nature as a centering force is depicted by a sunflower, a rose and ocean waves. “I hope the painting encourages all who see it to think about expressing more empathy and compassion in their daily lives,” the artist says. “In doing so, we contribute to our own peace of mind, as well as the peace of the world.”