In the Spirit: Rise Up! Studios art exhibit tours local places of worship

Image courtesy of Rise Up! Studios

WHAT: A traveling art exhibit from Rise Up! Studios, a studio for homeless artists based in the top floor of the Be Loved House

WHEN/ WHERE: September: St. George’s Episcopal; October: St Mary’s Episcopal; November: Congregation Beth HeTephila; December: First Presbyterian Church.

WHY: Xpress spoke with the Rev. Amy Cantrell of Be Loved House, the Rev. Beth Darling of St. George’s Episcopal, as well as Bella Jackson, Sabrina Rembert, Victoria Robinson and Lauren White, whose work is featured in the exhibit.

Xpress: Do you see a connection between art and spirituality?

Darling: Spirituality is a lived experience.  It expresses our hearts’ conviction that all life and all things ultimately exist in meaningful relationship. It is the linchpin that holds body, mind and emotion together during our mortal lives. In the expressive arts, we can share the meanings of life more freely than with language and ritual. Sounds, colors, images, textures, rhythms, shapes, movements, etc. may bypass the mind and go straight to the heart.  By this, we encounter the Spirit face-to-face.

How do you see Rise Up! Studios affecting the lives of the artists involved?

Cantrell: Rise Up! studio is a place where people can exercise creativity not as a luxury but as a lifeline. They can bare their souls and witness to the fact that creativity is critical to survival. We are at our essence, in our genes, creative beings.

What does the studio offer greater Asheville? 

Cantrell: I believe that Rise Up! is a place whose mission is to share the giftedness of people, particularly people that might be dismissed or ignored. Their stories and visions are important. Our hope is that Rise Up! is a place that creates justice and healing for the brokenness of our society as artists share their truths and use their art to speak about both social hurt and social healing.  Asheville would do well to listen to these visual prophets!  It could very well bend the arc of the moral universe, to quote Dr. King, a little closer toward the justice.

What inspires you in your creative process and what themes can be found in your artwork?

Artists of Rise Up! Studio: (from left) Lauren White, Sabrina Rembert and James Gambrell. Photo by Jordan Foltz.
Artists of Rise Up! Studio: (from left) Lauren White, Sabrina Rembert and James Gambrell. Photo by Jordan Foltz.

White: As a woman in this world, I have been a victim of violence. So through my art I am inspired by my need for healing in a really broken world. I actually named Rise Up! Studio in hopes that we, as a collective, could find healing-space to grow and express ourselves. I dabble in lots of images, but my most common theme is women — women confident in their skin, women rising in strength and love.

Jackson: My art is mostly female figures in various stages of strength and vulnerability — from deity to completely human scenes. I am inspired to reclaim the spectrum and depth of the female experience from a world where, for too long, men have controlled what is real versus false, what is fact versus feeling, what is scientifically proven versus the ‘anecdotes’ of many peoples’ lived experience.

Is art a spiritual practice for you? 

White: Absolutely! Anything that feeds, heals, tells my story, shares joy and soothes my soul certainly is!

Jackson: Yes, in that through creating something from just ideas in my mind, I reclaim the divine power of creation. American capitalism privatizes resources and space, and essentially prices people out of being able to create anything, whether it be art or a life outside the system. I aim to shift balances of power, to reclaim the innate worth of people, untied from ideas of productivity or marketability or any of the other ways we commodify life.

Rembert: Creating art is definitely a way to connect with spirit, which can drive you to go different ways with the piece.

What do you hope others will get out of viewing your art?

White: First, my hope is some sense of joy. I hope to portray empowerment, and through that healing. So I hope my art stirs strength, some feistiness and a sense of healing for those who view and maybe even buy it.

Jackson: I hope that viewers of my art will reexamine the ideas they internalized during the vulnerability of childhood and reject anything that does not serve their good. I hope it inspires people to be who they are and live with compassion, including for ourselves. I hope it shows people that life is mostly gray area ― not black and white ― which means no easy answers, no snap judgments, just a long letting go of the comfort of rigid illusions to be replaced by ever-changing truths.

Rembert: I hope that my art shows the beauty of nature and leads others to have a greater appreciation of this world we have been given, and do more to protect it.

Robinson: I would like them to be able to see how I am healing from my past and moving on to be the best that I can.

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About Jordan Foltz
Exploring the subtle and esoteric aspects of what drives and inspires people to take action— including religion, spirituality, ethics, and aesthetics.

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