FeaturesArtist of the Month: Lindsey Crittenden
Claire Holley: Hush
Ordinary Time: Until He Comes
Blasphemy: Art That Offends by S. Brent Plate
Breath by Tim Winton
Gallery WatchRestoration Exhibit at White Stone Gallery
Message BoardThe Dark Horse at the Seattle International Film Festival
ImageNewsReading with Tim Winton: June 3, 7:30 p.m.
The 2008 Florence Seminar
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Artist of the Month: Lindsey Crittenden
Lindsey Crittenden's prose is by turns lyric, wise, dark, and cheerfully neurotic. An earnest spiritual seeker who can also laugh at herself, in her memoir The Water Will Hold You (two chapters of which appeared in Image), she describes her gradual return to prayer and to the Episcopal Church of her childhood, as well as her family's transformation through the tragic death of her adult brother. Family is the great theme of Crittenden's fiction and memoir--in particular the many shapes family can take, and not always because of people's choices; sometimes circumstances land us in family configurations we would never have imagined for ourselves. As Crittenden dramatizes so beautifully, it's often the things we don't choose that come to define us. Her writing is effortless and elegant, her sense of story engaging and true, and the people in her world delightfully drawn. In writing about her life, she mixes serious self-examination with a sense of humor and perspective. Winningly self-deprecating, she attains just enough critical distance from her own good-girl neuroses to invite you both to laugh at her and feel with her as she strains toward the most difficult lesson that competent people have to learn: how to release a measure of control and lean back into God.
Click here for more.
Claire Holley: Hush
After releasing several albums on the established indie label Yep Roc Records, Claire Holley set out on her most recent project in a very different frame of mind. Now a mother of a two-year-old, she found herself approaching songwriting with a fresh sense of inspiration--and a different set of priorities. A singer and guitarist inspired by the likes of the Carter Family, Chet Atkins, and Joni Mitchell, Mississippi-born Holley has a sound all her own, infusing her early southern roots with a distinctively spare and delicate style. Recorded over a few days at a friend's house in Glendale and produced by long-time collaborator John Plymdale, the new album has an intimate, spontaneous feel. The instrumentation is minimalist, giving Holley's pure, clear voice plenty of space, and Hush as a whole has a gently playful but focused energy. The songs are loosely connected in mood and subject matter, with domestic topics like dinner, bath, and bedtime; at one point Holley considered recording an album of all lullabies, and though this project eventually moved into a broader territory, it retains a sense of nighttime stillness and dreamy peculiarity--and makes more than one allusion to the children's book Goodnight Moon, whose spirit pervades it. Both as a lyricist and a singer, Holley is an exemplar of the value of not overdoing it. Though gifted with a mighty voice, she uses it with restraint and without affectation, and her lyrics seem at first so effortless that you can almost miss their weight. Tracks like "Wedding Day" sound almost like traditionals, with the stripped-down diction of the oldest American music and the beauty of Shaker furniture, but Holley's own stamp is on every track. Her style is marked by a spareness that is at times eerie, at times sweet, always full of grace. You can read about the making of this album in the summer issue of Image #58, out at the end of June.
Check out the album here. Photo: Michael Wilson.
Ordinary Time: Until He Comes
Some bands do things in reverse. Such is the case with Ordinary Time. The trio's first CD was released before the band had a name. Additionally, it was a Christmas album, and one that sounded like it had been plucked out of the early part of the twentieth century--full of folk harmony, mandolin, guitar, and violin. Now named, Ordinary Time just released their second album, Until He Comes. Similar to In the Town of David (featured in ImageUpdate #113), the band places standards such as "How Sweet and Awesome is the Place" (Isaac Watts) and "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing" (Robert Robinson) alongside originals by Ben Keyes, Peter La Grand, Tom Wuest, and Jill Zimmerman. Such juxtaposition adds a sense of timelessness to each song and a contemporary spin on tradition. Extremely well-received, In the Town of David quickly sold out of its first pressing and has recently been re-released under the band's official name. Of that effort, we said words that ring true of both albums: "In knowing the roots of their art--the tradition of sturdy songs built on the lineage of folk, Americana, and blues--the trio has created an album bearing an historical patina." In late April, the band played two album release concerts in Vancouver, B.C. before returning to their various areas of the continent: Keyes and his wife, Nickaela, work at Boston L'Abri, La Grand manages a coffee shop and plays solo shows in Vancouver, and Zimmerman is currently in graduate studies at Yale. Additional concerts will be planned as time allows. The album was produced by La Grand, mastered by Dwayne Harder, recorded by Jon Anderson, and mixed by Colin Stewart at The Hive in Vancouver, B.C. All songs are arranged by Keyes, La Grand, and Zimmerman.
To purchase the CD, click here.
Blasphemy: Art That Offends by S. Brent Plate
As the title would suggest, Blasphemy: Art That Offends probably wouldn't make the best choice for a coffee table art book. But it is not merely a gratuitous foray into a territory of shock and awe, either. Instead, this book is a careful, considered, even philosophical examination of art that has offended the religious public throughout the ages, from Renaissance paintings depicting a naked baby Jesus to Andres Serrano's 1987 Piss Christ, which portrays a crucifix submerged in urine. The color reproductions of these pieces--some more jarring than others--are coupled with thoughtful commentary that explores the question of what makes an image offensive or blasphemous and the related issues of censorship and freedom of expression. "There is nothing in itself immoral or evil about urine, dung, or nudity--they are simply elements of natural, profane life as humans," Plate writes in a chapter that explores the definition of blasphemy. It is difficult to define such a subjective and slippery term, he says, because what is considered blasphemous varies throughout history and often depends on religious or political power structures. But there's a sense that blasphemy is ultimately about transgression, about the crossing of a perceived boundary between the sacred and profane. Mixing images of consumer capitalism with sacred symbols is one a form of transgression prevalent in contemporary art, often as an avenue for social commentary. Take, for example, The McPassion, a 2006 short film by Rik Swartzwelder and Benjamin Hershleder that functions like an extended advertisement for McDonalds. Included in the book are stills from the film that pair gospel references with fast food culture: Jesus and the disciples enjoy fast food together in "The McLast Supper;" a cross atop the iconic "M" transforms the golden arches into the hills of Golgotha; and a young girl beams over her Happy Meal of McLoaves & Fish Sticks. Most people laughed, Plate says, but some "saw it as sacrilegious or blasphemous, while failing to see the critical commentary." Art that offends, he says, often does not intend to make fun of religion, but to reveal something about ourselves or our culture. Above all, this book makes a convincing case that images still have power, even in a society that might seem to have lost its sensitivity to spiritually-charged images.
Click here for more.
Australian novelist Tim Winton comes from his country's western coast--a place with few big cities, generally poorer and more desolate than the populous southeast. And yet it is also a place of raw beauty and terrible simplicity. Winton has mined this rich vein in a variety of world-class novels, including the now-classic Cloudstreet, a poignant tale of two families growing up in a single dwelling in mid-twentieth century Perth. As Winton made clear in his Image interview, his Christian vision permeates everything he writes. But after the highly symbolic Cloudstreet, with its mysterious, wandering Aborigine, prophetic pig, and assorted visionary characters, Winton has pursued a stricter form of literary naturalism--also to great effect--in The Riders (nominated for the Booker Prize) and the highly acclaimed Dirt Music. Winton's new book is the slim, intense novel, Breath. Its protagonist is a boy named Bruce Pike--Pikelet to his friends. Along with his friend Loonie he explores the rivers, forests, and beaches of western Australia, gaining a fascination for diving and especially for surfing. Pikelet and Loonie meet an enigmatic surfer named Sando, a man in his thirties, who becomes their guru. Winton captures the powerful emotions of adolescence, the desire of the young for a kind of purity and intensity that they cannot find in the conventional world around them. Inevitably, the lure of ever-more-dangerous surfing challenges tempts them, with Sando egging them on. The prose is precise and restrained but lifts into lyricism as it describes the thrill and wonder of surfing itself. To surf is to risk being crushed by the sea, thrust down below the waves where one cannot breathe. And yet breathing is something we tend to take for granted. Treat yourself to this gem about breath, and spirit, by one of our finest living writers, Tim Winton.
Order Breath here.
Restoration Exhibit at White Stone Gallery
The Restoration exhibit at White Stone Gallery in Philadelphia is open now until June 29, 2008. Restoration features the work of Wayne Berger, a master woodworker who creates abstract panels of metal leaf, and Barbara Februar, whose background in textiles and interior design influences her mixed media paintings. White Stone Gallery specializes in showcasing work by artists of high caliber focused on exploring their Christian faith, with pieces representing nearly every continent. Work by Sandra Bowden and Makoto Fujimura is appearing at White Stone Gallery later this year and in 2009. The gallery is located at 4219 Main St, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
For more information on the Restoration exhibit, visit the gallery's website.
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The Dark Horse at the Seattle International Film Festival
The world premier of The Dark Horse will be screened at the Seattle International Film Festival June 4 and June 7, 2008. Written and directed by Cornelia Duryée Moore, The Dark Horse is a dramatic story of struggle and redemption set in the Pacific Northwest. For information about screening times, click here.
ImageNews – The Scoop on Our Programs
Reading with Tim Winton: June 3, 7:30 p.m.
Join Image for an evening with acclaimed Australian writer Tim Winton (Image #2, 10), author of classic novels Cloudstreet and Dirt Music. Twice shortlisted for the Booker Prize, Winton will read from his eighth and newest novel Breath, which follows two boys living in remote Western Australia and their longing for beauty and escape in the art of surfing. A story about pressing against limits, tempting oblivion, and the possibility of redemption held in the body, Breath, says Colm Tóibín, "is written with Tim Winton's customary tenderness and vivid sense of place and psychological truth. He manages to portray brilliantly made characters against a mythic landscape, thus creating a narrative that is gripping and breath-taking both in its vast scope and in its use of emotional detail. This is his most forceful and perfect novel to date." Winton published his first novel when he was twenty-two, and has since published over twenty books. He lives with his wife and three children in Western Australia.
This event is co-presented with Elliott Bay Book Company. Elliot Bay is located at 101 S. Main Street downtown Seattle.
For directions, click here.
Read a full review of the novel here.
The 2008 Florence Seminar
On September 14 -21, 2008, Image will gather a small group of inquirers in Florence, Italy, to explore what has been called "the first Renaissance," a remarkable moment in the cultural history of the West. Together we will investigate the ways in which three great late-medieval figures--Dante Alighieri, Giotto, and Saint Francis of Assisi--renewed the culture of Europe and left a legacy of Christian Humanism that continues to nourish and inspire. And we will ask how their vision of art and faith can speak to the work of cultural transformation in our time. The seminar includes visits to the great churches and museums of Florence, lectures by some of the world's leading authorities on the Renaissance, a field trip to Assisi where we will encounter the living spirit of St. Francis, wonderful meals, and time to enjoy each others' company. If you're interested, visit the Florence Seminar page, download the Florence Brochure PDF for more info, or contact Julie Mullins here.
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Publisher: Gregory Wolfe
ImageUpdate is the biweekly e-mail newsletter from Image, a quarterly print journal that explores the relationship between Judeo-Christian faith and art through contemporary fiction, poetry, painting, sculpture, architecture, film, music, and dance. Each issue also features interviews, memoirs, essays, and reviews.
ImageUpdate brings you news about books, CDs, organizations, websites, conferences, exhibitions, and tours--all of which inhabit the intersection between faith and imagination. ImageUpdate will also notify you whenever a new issue of Image is printed, an Image event is upcoming, or new content is posted to our website.
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