Kirsten Van Mourick



“The Psalm”

“A concept that I am always attempting to wrestle into my pieces is the presence of God.  Since I believe that we were created in his image, and that community is one of the most important ways that we learn about and experience Him, I long to communicate the way we participate with Him when we make our lives worship.”  Perhaps the strongest representation of these combined ideas is Van Mourick’s painting “Communion.”  What appears to be a quaint picnic scene at first glance reveals itself to be a gathering of individuals sharing bread and wine.  These are elements traditionally representative of the body and blood of Jesus Christ when consumed within church walls.  The blanket is almost liquid, like fabric floating on air.  The surreal surroundings, the ritual bread and wine, transform a commonplace activity into something that isn’t quite of this world…

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Holly Bobisuthi


The Longship Necklace

Anyone who has taken a drawing class has been told that the negative space is just as important as the solid, black lines they etch onto the paper.  The pieces in Holly Bobisuthi’s jewelry line suspend from the ear of the wearer, lay over the collarbone, and float almost like halos on the crown.  The shapes are drawn with metal, allowing what is seen between each line to become a canvas.

The Fortnight Necklace & Lover’s Eye Hairpin

Bobisuthi’s primitive renderings are of natural phenomena and ancient wards.  The Fortnight Necklace tells the story of the phases of the moon; the Sunspot earrings capture the temporary bursts of energy in petal shapes emitting from a ring.  In her collections, there are also many eyes (the Evil Eye—to protect the wearer from black magic).  The Longship Statement Necklace, created in the Bobisuthi’s simplistic style, possesses drama not only because of it’s size.  The necklace also offers movement and sound to represent a Viking longship and it’s many oars sailing in the sea.

See more of her work and peruse the shop at

images from Pinterest

Dame Paula Rego/Jane Eyre



Dame Paula Rego’s artwork is brutal.  It Realistic detail is used to manipulate the surreal into grotesque visual fair.  Humans interact with over-sized animals whose hair you can feel by looking at the image.  You flinch when figures contort themselves with pained expressions, regarding your own physical state.

One particularly interesting trait in Dame Rego’s work is her choice to sometimes illustrate children in adult bodies.  She believes that children are not blissfully innocent, but posses a kind of knowing.  This suits her visual exploration of Charlotte Brontë’s novel Jane Eyre.  Dame Rego illustrates Jane as both a woman and a child, but not based on the timeline.   Jane is chastised, punished, in the text for not being more child-like.  By this, the adults around her mean that she is aware, intelligent, and capable of conversation that is not fluff.  Yet, they wish for her to be simple.  Her disposition is cultivated by an early life wrought with cruel treatment.  The stormy tone of the book suits Dame Rego’s style in more ways than this.  Jane Eyre has mystery, darkness, and fantasy that walks the edge more on the side of reality.  At times, there is an explanation for such things, yet the fantastic description stays in the mind.  It allows the reader to believe in the possibility that these chilling moments crossed from reality to the other side.


“Loving Bewick”

“Loving Bewick” depicts an adult Jane set to devour a pelican.  This embodies the very first pages of the book where Jane hides behind the curtain in a windowsill to read Bewick’s book about animals, virtually eating up the text to cherish each morsel of knowledge gained.

In “Inspection,” a young Jane stands on a stool as the minister examines her to discover if she is as evil as her Aunt claims she is.  Jane is so small beneath the gaze of these over-sized grown ups, emphasizing the absurdity of their perceiving the presence of a devil in Jane.  An over-sized defense that would rising up against what they deem the threat of a budding intellectual.

My favorite quote from the text, “The shadows are just as important as the light,” sums up the protagonist herself.*  She is a complex web of her experiences.  After spending a lifetime misunderstood, and introverted as a consequence, Jane encounters Master Rochester.  To most people, she silently fades into the background like a portrait on a wall.  Yet, the depth of her inner life shows itself as a mysterious and frightful quality in his eyes. He describes her as set apart from society and culture like a nun, but senses her humanness.  He invites her into conversation, finding her to be his intellectual match.  He registers her as being a person with an astute shell raised against the experiences that life gave to her.  “You are no more naturally astute than I am naturally vicious,” he says because he too buried his heart beneath memories of poor treatment.*  Dame Rego’s illustrations capture his ragged, brash shell that is often softened in film adaptations.

Learn more about Dame Paula Rego here.


images from Pinterest
*Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre.  New York: Random House, 1943.

Angela Ellsworth – Seer Bonnets


Upon entering the Lisa Sette Gallery booth at Art Miami, one felt the sense of a hush.  The strings of bonnets trailed to the floor.  Beads of while pearls on the outside and the teeth of silver,  gleaming pins on the inside.  Floating more than five feet in the air, the white bonnets bore thousands of pins, like tiny swords, poised to pierce the wearer.  For artist Angela Ellsworth, this is symbolic of the esoteric price of becoming a plural wife. Ellsworth channeled the history of her ancestors, pioneer Mormon plural wives, and created her Seer Bonnets out of corsage pins.  The pins display the outward, spoken accolades and the inner psychological and emotional toll.  Decorated with pristine, white pearls, they are objects made to pierce and to bind.  Done so beautifully, the outside result makes one forget that the object is capable of creating a wound.

While my immediate interpretation was what I have described above, Ellsworth also meant for the seer bonnets to translate as representing the inner resilience and strength of women who needed to have an inner world to survive.  In this instance, the pins speak to the pain that grew the need for an inner world.  Ellsworth re-imagines the power of these women hidden in the underside of the bonnet to show the qualities of their secret lives: the pain as well has hidden power and strength.

See more work from Ellsworth’s Sister Wives series here:

Image Source here

Regina Jacobson


“Wearing My Sundae Best”

After working in the fashion industry for thirty-three years, Regina Jacobson brought her insight into the culture of beauty onto the canvas.  While pursuing her MFA in fine art at Laguna College of Art and Design in 2013, Jacobson had an epiphany.  She “discovered a provocative message which is a syntheses of my background in fine art, fashion and religion – a spiritually and philosophically charged commentary on human frailty, the vulnerability of our delicate self-worth when based [on] appearances, our need as humans for love and our quest for approval from others.”  Jacobson goes deeper than the search to reach an unrealistic standard of beauty, and into the spiritual destruction of misplaced self-worth.  “My work is filled with Judaeo-Christian signifiers that point…away from the rituals and events set forth in the Bible; crucifixion, prayer, marriage, original sin, betrayal, worship, sanctification, etc., are applied to the idolatry of unattainable physical perfection.”

Jacobson’s surreal approach on the canvas has whimsical and playful elements used to communicate the worship of beauty.  Each image is met with a poignant darkness.  In “Clipped Wings” the bird in the cage under the enlarged eye in the magnifying glass is shrinking under the mockery of her own poor perception of her physical being.  The woman is both the caged creature and the human being perpetuating cultural messages of what should be attained.  One of the most fantastic and deeply troubling images is “Wearing My Sundae Best.”  A woman’s face atop an ice cream cone is covered by a black funereal veil and piled high with elaborate, bright hats.  Underneath the layers is a despondent veiled face, resigned to believing that she is meant to be enjoyed, even if she doesn’t enjoy it.  These fantastic elements, executed in a clean, realistic style, communicate multi-layered messages.  “The ice cream scoop on the expansive checkered board floor and the topiaries of the rabbit and the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland serve to undergird the idea of the bizarre and curious being accepted as normal,” says Jacobson.


“My god, my god”

In Jacobson’s series “Cult of Beauty” the secret ritualism within the life of someone who seeks approval from an illegitimate source is uncovered by the usage of religious elements.  “While the arrows that I shoot are aimed at the heart of idolatry, they originate from the truth of the Bible – the idea being that the origin of the thought, therefore, insinuates meaning onto the target.”  In “Witness” mannequins stand in the place of ministers, symbolized by long panels on their clothing that are similar to the details on preacher’s robes.  The panels of Jacobson’s “Alterpiece” triad harken to stained glass images, each holding their own story that supports a whole when placed side by side.  To the left, a figure is trussed in ropes, yet their casual demeanor makes them seem unaware that they are indeed bound.  To the right, the upper half of a woman’s body is support by the lower half of a mannequin.  The central image strikes a blatant Biblical chord, titled “My god, my god.”  A woman is suspended by a rope hung on meat hook.  Her toes hover over the ground while she pulls the strings of her corset so tight that her outstretched arms mimic images of Christ on the cross.  Her body is reduced to an object that can be strung and moved about at the whim of what she worships.  Behind her, soft candles glow on the alter where she sacrifices herself.



“As a Christian, I view life through the lens of my beliefs.  Though my work tends to the darker side of the emotional spectrum, my beliefs seem to saturate the work, dealing with eternal and moral themes” says Jacobson.   She desires for her work, dark, vulnerable, and unafraid of the truth, to cross boundaries.  “Recently I’ve come to feel that, to those outside of Christianity, our message seems archaic, our language drenched in exclusivity, our imagery burdened with puritanical innocence.”  The artist says, “I want my work to resonate with the world in a way which allows them to feel that we can empathize with their pain. We are all suffering, we all hurt, we have all fallen short of the glory of God. I want to open up a conversation about our common weaknesses.”  By viewing her work, and contemplating the larger messages, Jacobson hopes that others will be directed toward spiritual renewal.  By using art to communicate messages of faith to all people, she says, “I want to extend a hand to help them out of their bondage – out of the darkness and into the marvelous light.”

Jacobson is currently at work on an installation.  The large-scale project is a collaborative effort among various visual artists (including set designers) and will grow “Cult of Beauty” into a “fully immersive environment.”  Currently, another exhibition titled “The Ring” is in production and will include performance art.  “My vision grows daily and it’s hard to keep up with.  I hope to receive grants and raise funds to produce an international exhibition: I dream big.”

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Carmelita Couture


Flowing robes left a technicolor trail in the memory of Philadelphia Fashion Week attendees this past September.  The prints on the Carmelita Couture runway were a dance of shapes and forms from the canvas of artist Victor Atkins, a painter who translates his spiritual identity into images. His primitive and brightly colored works maintain the weight and mystery of spiritual passion, painting light over darkness.  The models wore his paintings in various fabrics, some bold and printed onto opaque textiles, while others cast their transparent pattern over the form.  For the first time, Greco included menswear in styles that were as varied and whimsical as the womenswear.  Each look communicated her theme of modern priesthood drawn from Biblical texts, a position offered to all who believe in the gospel.

Greco began her line over 8 years ago.  Her pieces can be seen in magazines around the world and on the red carpet (most recently on Narcos star Cristina Umaña).  Fashion has always been a purposeful pursuit for Greco, extending beyond the balance of color and shape and into the recognition of beauty as a divine quality.   This most recent collection dives deeper into the spiritual, biblical, purpose of adornment.  “My calling is to make priestly garments, to share a priestly identity on the earth through fashion.”

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Mary Jane Miller – Iconographer


Mary Jane Miller is not Orthodox, or a trained artist, but for the past twenty years she has practiced the tradition of Byzantine style iconography daily.  Her reverence for iconography led her to study the ancient painting techniques in depth. Within the act itself, she sees a reflection of her own beliefs.

The materials used in this sacred art form are a meeting of past and present, the earth and the divine, flesh and spirit.  Combined they expose a sense of awe and eternity.  “The medium is egg tempera, a recipe combining egg yolk which symbolizes the raw potential for life” Miller explains, “ mixed with million-year-old dirt, which is symbolic of eternity.  So, your mixing life with eternity and you create a divine image, images of Jesus, Mary, the apostles, and saints.”  The practice resonates with Miller personally and spiritually.  “I just thought ‘My God, I can push little particles with dirt around in an egg yolk emulsion and create beauty.’  It blended everything that I’m about.  I love nature, I love life, and I love God.”

Despite her articulate and deeply passionate words about iconography, Miller says, “I don’t think I’ve ever been an artist.”  She speaks with a balance of self-awareness and a sense of humor.  The marriage of depth and whit is what displays her humbleness.  Before she painted icons, Miller provided creative services for the purpose of paying the bills – jewelry, furniture design, painting mural.  “I never thought that I would be one of those artists that was driven.”

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Chiharu Shiota



Chiharu Shiota’s installation “Rain of Memories” (2016) is a web of red thread, so large and so tightly woven that it overwhelmingly fills the space.  Thousands of keys are strung throughout.  Red is usually heralded as the color of love, passion, fury, blood, and violence.  Something as small as a key can force a tapestry of all of these qualities to the surface of the consciousness, memories.

In Japanese culture, the red thread symbolizes the connection between a person and their true love, someone with whom they will impact the world.  This visualization of the delicate, yet, powerful connection of love is so human and crosses cultural boundaries.  The red thread found its way into the consciousness of British author Charlotte Bronte when Master Rochester confessed the depth of his affection for the namesake protagonist of her 1847 novel Jane Eyre.  Fragile string, resilient when not stretched too thin, bears the weight of being saturated with every emotion that red, itself, speaks of.  Unlike Master Rochester bemoaning the threat of the thread being stretched too thin across the ocean only to snap, Japanese myths assert that it cannot break.

The awe of “Rain of Memories,” bound in the keys and tangle of red string, comes from the sheer volume of such an emotional, universal chord.

The power of Shiota’s installations is in the depth of human experience.  The artist casts powerfully emotional concepts into simple colors and objects, inspiring reverence and forming associations with the complex moments of life.

Shiota’s vast catalogue of installations speak of connection, or lack of.  Shiota has also used black string in many works and utilized inanimate props, seemingly place-holders for humans and their emotional experiences.  The three-part installation “Trace of life” (2008) is one of Shiota’s darker works.  Longing, haunting interactions, and ultimately a universal red thread, take viewers through a range of emotions.


First, a white gown, possibly bridal or a child’s first communion dress, is surrounded by black string.  The garment holds the significance of a child or a bride.  Piles of string on the floor restrict her movement and alter her steps, cords collect and hang over her like a cloud.  Few are connected to the tulle of her dress, like the taunting cruelty of intrusion.  Small triggers, just enough to make you flinch.

Trace of Life” also includes a room nearly bare of the signs of humanity, save for an empty chair, a messy desk, and just more than a dozen papers strewn on the floor.  A somber web of black cords that fill the white room, while the chair faces tall windows like a person looking out.  It is a position of reflection and contemplation.  The sense of stillness is strong, the non-movement of being seated in a chair is weighted down by the black web.  It feels like a scene of someone gazing out of those windows, frozen resignation and regret.


The third component of “Trace of Life” is on the outside of this building, where many red strings stretch from a single point, each connected to a different style of shoe.  Outside of the rooms that are clouded by a dark web, there is connection among people in the world.  The vast variety of shoes is symbolic of the variety of human beings, and they’re connection (the red threads) all descend from a single point in the sky.  A universal compassion, a world-changing force of love, descends to meet each person.  The people inside the building, the girl restricted by her trauma and the person gazing out of the window, could find hope and connection.


See more of Shiota’s work:

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Ashley Tamber Designs


Clothing and jewelry are often helmed as a form of art on the body.  The drape, cut, or subject of a focal piece is crafted with an expert hand.  Imagine pieces that don’t use you into a blank canvas or perfectly placed frame, but dialog with who you are. Ashley Tamber’s abstract jewelry draws admirers because each design meets the wearer in a place of resonance. When people communicate their interaction with a design, “like a Rorschach, it gives me a glimpse into their psyche,” says the Virginia-based designer.


This design aesthetic came from many experiments to try to create organic, human, and other-worldly adornments that felt somehow unsatisfying to Tamber. “I was exploring how to work with fiber and metal to make jewelry, and spending time making jewelry with actual fiber that I wasn’t happy with. I was also creating Memento Mori type things that weren’t pieces that could be worn easily.”  After seeing fellow studio artists play with some enamel, Tamber found the perfect tangible expression for the concept that she had been trying to capture.  Her pieces are a created “a mix of fiber and metal,” with, “a unique surface treatment.”  Tambers says that each one has a secret element of Memento Mori.


While many of her current designs are named after celestial bodies, “The shapes were actually established before I decided to name them after planets,” says Tamber.  The process of choosing names was delicate, but ultimately a pleasant surprise.  “I really liked the aspect of everyone seeing something different in them so I didn’t want to take away from that, but I wanted to name the shapes so I could designate between them and people could connect with them more emotionally.”  It was her father who suggested that she name them after planetary hosts. “Since I was little I was taught astrology and weird lore about the sky and the things in it,” she says. “I think when he suggested that naming scheme my jaw actually dropped and we high-fived because it was so obviously fitting and perfect.”


Tamber’s inspirational gift, the mystery of creativity, is her ability make forms out of what most people see as air.  “I think the best inspiration comes from outside the medium you’re working in,” she says.  “Colorful words can be really visually stimulating to me.”  Also, she finds that, “Writing and words seem to be a great way for me to be creative but also reign my ideas in a little.”


Tamber also finds inspiration in visuals, the patterns and creatures nature.  Quite a few of her works are directly derived natural symbols and animals.  Like many artists, sparks of inspiration also come from the serendipitous: “I try to hang on to that childlike sense of wonder and curiosity because it allows me to look at everyday things as an ‘experience,’” she says.  “I was hiking around the Shenango River Lake with my cousin the other day and she found a rock that looked like a galaxy. That sort of felt like synchronicity.”


Ashley Tamber Designs on Etsy

instagram: @ashleytamber


Flesh, Blood, and Spirit


Christ in the Wilderness (2011)

The man struggles to rise to his feet.  Dark jackals are hunting him and a serpent is poised to strike at his heel.  He is ruddy, eyes downcast, and nude.  In the swirl of a bright, geometric cloud, pained, compassionate faces offer a had to lift him up.  In a darker end of the spectrum, a horned figure watches.

This is not a depiction of Jesus radiating gold and light, smiling with inhuman passivity.  This Jesus, in his fleshly body, is in the throes of a battle between light and dark, the human body and the soul, his face molded by emotion.  This is his own battle in the wilderness from the book of Matthew, Chapter 4, passages 1-11.

Edward Knippers’ paintings, like “Christ in the Wilderness,” offer a depiction of Biblical figures grounded by physical bodies.  Bodies contorted, bodies in action.  His impressionistic application of ruddy flesh tones echoes the blood and the pulse beneath.  They are not inhuman.


Peter Led From Prison (The Dreams of Men) [2011]

When admiring the realistic quality of his work, the visceral nature of the human body, it is hard to imagine that Knippers was formerly a still-life painter.  In the Paris opera house, a Ballet Russes presentation of the parable of The Prodigal Son altered the artist’s perspective on the figure.  Inspired by the power of the body and narrative combined in Balanchine’s choreography, Knippers began studying the human form.  Drawing on his beliefs, he wanted to make images that reflected his personal interaction with biblical texts.  “The narrative of scripture cuts through our falsities and brings a clarity to our minds.”  This corresponds to Knippers fascination with abstract expressionism and primitive art because “there’s a way that the primitive catches you off guard.”  In this vein, Knippers offers an image of Jesus with the same flesh, blood, and body as his other subjects.  This grounds Christ, bringing him out of distant imaginations of him nearly without a body.  The notion of a physical body enduring a crucifixion leaves the range of abstract notions and enters the realm of real, provoking thought.

Dark and light, and the spirit and the body, are constant dualities in Knippers’ work.  Drawn from his past abstract still-lifes the “intrusion of another kind of reality” is a theme in all of his works.  Cubic shapes interact with the classical, realistic bodies as an analogy for the spirit world. These colorful elements cover figures as if to protect, guiding them with outstretched arms.  Darker forms represent the dark spiritual elements.  In “The Dreams of Men (Peter Led from Prison),” the kaleidoscope emanates near his face, like a halo, as an angel leads him through a wreckage of shackles and bodies, people who appear to be dead physically or spiritually.

Stoning of Stephen

The Stoning of Stephen (1998)


The Sacrifice of Baal

The Sacrifice of Baal (1995)

Up until the early 2000s, Knippers’ paintings were darker, dealing with the “heavier nature of contending with a greater reality.”  The weight of flesh and shadows looms heavily on the canvas with figures painted at an immense scale to illuminate the magnitude of strife.  Knippers was then more interested in the “earthy, solid manner,” of the spiritual narrative.

The violent quality of Knippers paintings varies, ebbs and flows.  The pulse of action rises and mellows.  Knippers says, “we live in such a world that when true grace comes it’s going to be a violent act.”  He compares it to the perspective-altering coming of spring when “grass breaks through concrete.”  Grace on Knippers’ canvas is not soft, instead a fearsome and beautiful thing.


All images courtesy of 

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