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Keeping the Faith @ AVAM

The American Visionary Art Museum has opened its latest year-long exhibit, All Faiths Beautiful: From Atheism to Zoroastrianism, Respect for Diversity of Belief. This show of over 500 paintings, sculptures, photos, and drawings deals with the subjects of belief, faith, and respect for the traditions of others.

This is the anti-zealot's fear and loathing approach to belief and faith and more in line with a quote from the Dalai Lama, "My religion is kindness," which is one of the many wall texts. While some galleries avoid text like the plague, AVAM is known for an abundance of wall text as each exhibit has a broad background story accompanying the work.

Visitors to the museum will follow a wave of PostSecret cards, from the entrance, undulating up the stairways of the main hall, on which the authors share their beliefs, testimonials of faith, or confessions of none. Some are hilarious, some you will undoubtedly connect with: if you are familiar with Frank Warren’s Post Secret collections you’ll spend a good hour reading them all. It’s a nice addition to this show. (Frank's latest PostSecret book just debuted @ #50 on Amazon.)

There is rarely a dull visual moment at AVAM. All Faiths Beautiful includes Pamela Smith's paper mache goddesses complete with a hoop-skirted Buddonna. The Reverend Richard Emmanuel’s ode to the demons of war and denial has a timely quote, "The war is going fine, next question?" Perfect for any Halloween decor. Wilfred Regon Martin’s golden warrior of the trial and tribulations of human existence, The Captive, shares a gallery with Semet Aslam’s wonderful drawings of person struggle and a wall of the poet Rumi’s verse and quotations.

Two of my favorite pieces in this exhibit are Christina Varga’s Triptych of Mohammed, Jesus, and Buddha and Chris Roberts-Antieau’s The Seven Social Sins, featuring a colorful hand-sewn book you can flip through to choose the sin of your choice. A second piece, Contemplating the Universe, is also a pleaser. Julia Butterfly Hill must have had great faith to hang out for two years in a giant redwood tree in order to save it from logging. Her hand-crafted diary is also on display.

All Faiths Beautiful: From Atheism to Zoroastrianism runs through August 31, 2008, at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore. Visit my Flickr site for many more images of the exhibit and opening reception.


libby said...

show looks great. i hope i get to see it.

Mark Barry said...

Come on down, lunch is on me-or you could use a plate....

Anonymous said...

Thanks for mentioning my work. I love hearing positive feedback. If you like i can get you a better image of the work at the museum. We'll see if I can put one in the comment page.

I look forward to hearing what more people think.

Christina Varga

Mark Barry said...

Your very welcome Christina, the show looks great and your work is a perfect fit.