By Jennifer Powell (Courtesy photo)
For years I have driven by Convergence on Quaker Lane and the wonderful outdoor sculptures and wondered, “Is it a place of worship? Is it an arts center?”
The answer is yes to both.
Beckoning to all outside of the Convergence arts initiative is the wonderful Contemplative Sculpture Garden, featuring Karen Swenholt’s two outstretched figures — the aptly entitled “Dust Cries Out” — that stand as metaphors for the Twin Towers. Though tragic, the sculpture is intended to give viewers hope, and that hope exists in the grasping gestures. The garden and its encompassed creations give an indication that there will be something of great artistic value inside.
To enter is to exhale. Convergence is an opportunity to slow down and be present. White space is celebrated here in the outer gallery and it is awash in light from the wrap- around floor to ceiling windows. Going further in allows for a peek into the inner sanctum of the church and a beautiful view of warm architecture, wood, lighting and highly saturated stained glass windows.
Back to the gallery is where we meet Glenn Howell in the form of his photography work. A pleasure to experience and contemplate, the real treat is that this artist of faith — who doesn’t often exhibit — is showing a body of new images.
Howell’s artist statement says: “I make art to communicate my sense of wonder. Light and time are intrinsic to photography and can become metaphors of spiritual experiences. Because it is a recording mechanism as well as a manipulable medium, photography has the ability to ‘translate’ the spiritual aspects of the physical world. I believe light is something that is present in both the spiritual and physical dimensions.”
Perusing through Howells work, we get it, but while all his works have a spiritual element to them — creatively titled with a spiritual or biblical phrase — the work is more subtle than that and can be approached on a purely aesthetic secular level.
A cross-shaped frame reveals itself to be an intimate study of human nature. The “Good Samaritan” houses multiple images within, showing various pedestrians on a side- walk bypassing a figure laying nearby in distress. The motion of the people are in stark contrast to the figure, which is still and sharp. Not one person walking by in multiple scenes stop to aid the figure. You will want to ask Howell if anyone ever did when shooting.
Poignant throughout, Howell shows his skill at both macro and micro imagery. The close up of a fingertip in “Touch/ Heal” is profoundly beautiful. It also illustrates Howell’s technique of applying beeswax to his prints. The result is a blurring of areas within the sharp photographic images, making them feel organic.
A triptych of junkyard images “Amidst, Verge, Hope” evolve from representing life and all its treasured things into that last image — “Hope” representing both a graveyard of junked items against an ethereal sky of light.
“Blind leading the Blind,” “In Transit,” “Generations,” “Suffer the Children” and “Beautitude” all reflect back on Howell’s photographs as the result of years of seeing and think- ing about seeing, photography and his place with it.
“I think photographs, as a recording of light on matter, have the potential to lead us from the flesh back to the Word,” he states.
No matter what your beliefs, you will get it.