Artist of the Month: Christina Askounis
Reading Christina Askounis is like watching an Olympic figure skater. What you notice first is the delicate, polished, graceful outward form: the energy, the movement, the invented world as bright and solid as a sheet of ice. What you don’t see, often until you’ve finished the story and are mulling it over and trying to understand how she pulled it off, is the forceful, disciplined athleticism that propels it. Askounis is a master illusionist: she writes fiction so seamless, so confident in its voice, so finished, that it looks effortless. With energy and precision, she wields each element of story craft without drawing attention to what she’s doing. In two lines of dialogue, she can mark a change in the trajectory of a relationship with clarity and force. In a few sentences’ description of a room, she can create an entire emotional history. This is a world so solid, so sure-footed, that one melts into it. Her sense of human behavior is finely tuned, perceptive, and surprising, and she treats her usually noble, morally anguished characters with tenderness but without sentimentality. She is also the author of The Dream of the Stone, a walloping, smart fantasy thriller for young readers. All kids should be reading prose this good.
Click here for more.
Auralia’s Colors by Jeffrey Overstreet
In his first fantasy novel, Auralia’s Colors, author and film critic Jeffrey Overstreet renders a world robbed of color. House Abascar is ruled by a jealous queen and an ambitious king who have confiscated from the common people everything that’s colorful and beautiful in order to adorn the palace. Dubbed the “Wintering of Abascar,” the colorless season is touted as a way to elevate the kingdom above the rest of the houses in the world of the Expanse. But inside Abascar’s walls, a growing discontent gnaws at the people who wait for their promised spring season. Meanwhile, on the outskirts of the kingdom, exiled thieves and other breakers of Abascar’s laws work as Gatherers, hoping to gain enough merit to one day earn a place within the protection of Abascar’s walls. There, a young girl captivates the Gatherers with a mysterious gift that she neither asked for nor quite understands. Weaving colors out of leaves and feathers and threads, Auralia ignores the decree of the Wintering. Without fear, she works with colors that the people of Abascar vaguely remember, sometimes even colors they’ve never seen. Making vivid garments and other objects of gratuitous beauty, Auralia gives her colorful gifts to the Gatherers and anyone else who wants them. When her creations manifest more power than she can explain, she faces the choice of running from her gift or finding out what it might mean for her world. To a kingdom poisoned by greed and a thirst for power, Auralia’s colors pose a threat to the way of life that has been enforced. But to Abascar’s yearning people, subdued by fear but gifted with dreams that promise more than black, brown, grey, and white, Auralia’s colors offer new possibilities for beauty. The telling of this tale mimics Auralia's delight in beauty: Overstreet’s sentences are such skillful romps through language that the prose itself seems imbued with color, best when savored slowly. Scenes are woven together like a magnificent and colorful garment. And Overstreet has created touching and complicated characters who refuse to be written off. Like Auralia, perhaps Overstreet sees possibilities for all of them, even for the bloodthirsty Beastmen who haunt the forest and terrorize the people of Abascar, even for the people of Abascar that Auralia once called blind.
For more on Auralia’s Colors, click here. To buy the book, click here.
Hope: An Invitational Show
To celebrate the completion of their new library, public plaza, and building renovations, Regent College invited artists from past Lookout Gallery exhibits to submit work relating to the theme of hope. Featuring the works of fifteen artists, Hope: An Invitational Show offers gallery patrons a variety of aesthetic pleasures. The show begins with Carmen Tomé’s warmly lit photograph of Jeronimos Monastery in Lisbon, Portugal—a place, she says in the exhibit’s brochure, where the “sense of awe and presence is palpable.” Wayne Eastcott and Michiko Suzuki offer “Interconnection 2 (Yobitsugi 1),” a print filled with greens and grays that depicts the tension between movement and stillness. Continuing her interest in embodiment and liminality, Erica Grimm Vance offers “Fragments of Your Ancient Name: Fire.” The five-sectioned encaustic piece, which includes a map of the Athabasca River region and thermographic images of the human body, investigates “issues of being and how meaning is negotiated in the 21st century.” The exhibit’s final work is a pair of small pillars by David Robinson, entitled “Antipodal Ablutions 2006.” About four feet in height, the pillars are each topped by a human figure half risen from the surface—one seemingly pushing upward, the other gazing into what might be a mirror. “These sculptures,” Robinson says, “are the working outcomes of waking dreams.” Also included are works by Dan Steeves, Gerald Folkerts, Squire Broel, Brooke Anderson, Robert Young, Maria Gabankova, Friedrich Peter, Chris Anderson, Richard Jesse Watson, and Sara Lige. From the direct to the indirect, from sculpture and painting to printmaking, the exhibit provides the viewer with a thought-provoking meditation on hope. The Lookout Gallery is located in Vancouver, BC, on the campus of Regent College. The exhibit will continue through October 31, 2007.
Find more about the exhibit here.
Faith in the Halls of Power by D. Michael Lindsay
Faith in the Halls of Power: How Evangelicals Joined the American Elite is not the sort of book title you might expect in this art-oriented newsletter, but bear with us for a moment—you’ll be glad you did. The grandiosity of the title and the photos on the cover (the White House, Hollywood sign, etc.) might lead you to think this book is a slick, hyper-political tale. But, as the saying goes, a book’s cover isn’t the best basis for judgment. Michael Lindsay is, in fact, a meticulous sociologist, and the book is a thoroughly researched, articulate, and incisive treatment of a sea-change in North American religious culture (published by Oxford University Press). Based on nearly 400 interviews with a variety of leaders (including Image editor Gregory Wolfe), this volume chronicles a shift from “populist” evangelicalism, which tends to have an antagonistic relationship to mainstream culture and its institutions, to “cosmopolitan” evangelicalism, which is both critical of various religious subcultures and committed to engagement with the larger public sphere. (Lindsay acknowledges that many of the individuals and institutions he is writing about aren’t evangelical in the strict historical-theological sense of the term.) Unlike many scholars of religion in public life, Lindsay does not place too much stress on politics and academia—a full quarter of his book is devoted to the crucial role of popular and high art. We’re happy to say that Image is cited as one of the leading organizations moving many believers “from protest to patronage.” Get past this book’s cover to delve into its rich, highly relevant content.
To learn more about Faith in the Halls of Power, click here.
Sarah Hall: True North Wind Tower
We recently featured stained glass artist Sarah Hall in ImageUpdate #116. Now, combining state of the art technology with the stained glass art of Sarah Hall, Regent College in Vancouver, B.C. recently unveiled the True North wind tower with Lux Nova art glass. It is the first stained glass installation in North America to utilize solar cells. The tower stands atop the newly completed $10 million, 28,000 square foot theological library that opened this past February. Designed by architect Clive Grout, the wind tower provides ventilation for the underground library while symbolizing the school’s commitment to sustainability. The stained glass by Sarah Hall includes twelve dichroic crosses, the Lord’s Prayer in Aramaic, and solar cells that will store energy to light the public plaza at night. Sarah Hall, RCA, is an architectural glass artist acclaimed for her imaginative projects.
For more about the Lux Nova Wind Tower project, click here.