GREENFIELD — Arms outstretched, she falls.
The woman depicted in artist Cagney King’s work “Fall from Grace” is a light spot on the canvas.
“She’s falling because there’s that unknown,” King said. “She’s that figure that represents all of us as lights in the world.”
King created the work at her studio in the Creative Arts and Event Center in downtown Greenfield, with texts of the creation narrative as a starting point.
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King and 13 other Indiana artists came together to explore those texts and offer their interpretations of them through works of art. They will share those works in an exhibit that opens at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Christian Theological Seminary, 1000 W. 42nd St., Indianapolis.
The reception and the opening of the art exhibit mark the culmination of the artists’ time in the Religion, Spirituality & the Arts Seminar Series, a partnership of Butler University and Christian Theological Seminary.
Rabbi Sandy Eisenberg Sasso, an author and rabbi emerita at Congregation Beth-El Zedeck in Indianapolis, directs the seminar that launched in 2014.
“I wondered what it would be like to engage with a group of artists … and how that might expand our understanding of what that text might mean to us today,” Sasso said.
“I hope they recognize that texts that have been held sacred are powerful narratives that can still speak to us today, and that their approach to that text … and their art can enrich the story, just as the story can enrich their art.”
King learned of the series from a fellow artist who had participated in a previous session and recommended it. She had reservations, wondering if religion would be pressed upon class members. Yet she believes in learning something new each day and wanted some catalyst to stretch her as an artist.
As she learned more about the series, about the range of viewpoints brought together in a cohort and the freedom to interpret for oneself, she embraced the idea of applying.
“I was super-charged,” she said.
The group of artists spanned a range of perspectives — among them Catholics, Buddhists and non-believers — and a range of artistic disciplines. Wednesday’s event will feature writers reading their work, composers presenting their music and visual artists display work on fabric, canvas and other media.
Sasso said when artists gather, they tend to do so with like artists — writers with writers, painters with painters, etc. — and that the cross-pollination of ideas across fields has been another benefit of the program.
“That has been very enriching for all of the participants, and actually, some collaborations have resulted from some of the seminars,” Sasso said.
King said the artists read accounts of creation from various religious traditions, listened to guest speakers and as a group discussed ideas, including the concept of the void — the notion that all life came from nothing. She sought to include that in “Fall from Grace,” in which that void is punctuated by occasional numerals, like cosmic equations breaking down.
“The void really fascinated me,” she said. “The idea of starting with nothing and ending with something meaningful really hit home for me.”
As she made nothing into something for the exhibit, King pushed herself toward a fresh direction in technique and chose stenciling, which she hadn’t done in some time. She cut her own stencil for the female figure in “Fall from Grace,” after she had by way of sketches found the arm and leg placement she wanted, a layout that made the figure’s fall seem more exuberant and less scary.
That attention to feeling is something that has long stood out to Bob Hunt about King’s work.
“You can really see emotion and passion in her work … You can just kind of feel it almost jumping out of a painting,” said Hunt, owner of the Creative Arts and Event Center.
King has been featured artist for several events at the center, including the opening of CrazyLake Art House and launch of Second Fridays. Locally, her resume includes numerous awards in the Hancock County Arts Council’s Will Vawter Arts Show through the years.
Nationally, she’s exhibited at the Castle Fitzjohns Gallery in New York and the Miami International Art Show.
Hunt said King is perhaps the best-traveled artist of those with studios in the Greenfield center.
“She’s very special,” Hunt said. “You look at her pieces, and you can very clearly see she’s trying to convey a message.”
Now King has a message for some fellow artists she has in mind: Apply for the seminar series.
It came at a perfect time for her, King says, and she can see how it could stimulate some of her peers in their own creating.
“You have to be willing to go out and learn something,” she said.
See the exhibit: Fourteen Indiana artists will present works at a reception and exhibit opening at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Christian Theological Seminary, 1000 W. 42nd St., Indianapolis. The event is free and open to the public.
Artists participating have been part of the Religion, Spirituality & the Arts Seminar Series. Performance artists will begin presenting their work at 6:30 p.m. Visual artists’ work will remain on display in the foyer outside the seminary’s Shelton Auditorium through mid-March.
In addition to the seminar artists’ presentations, the Butler Chorale will perform “In the Beginning.”
Join the next group: Professional artists interested in applying for the next seminar group can learn more at www.butler.edu/religion-arts. Applications for Round V will be accepted from May 2 to June 6.
Read it yourself: Intrigued by the discussion? Curriculum materials from the seminar are being posted at rsaseminar.wordpress.com.