Last Updated: Tuesday - 01/04/2011
June 11, 2001
Faith permeates pottery
Spirituality shines through in artwork from grain elevators to the resurrection
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
ST. ALBERT — Loretta Brown began working with clay some 12 years ago, making mostly functional pottery such as vases, pots, mugs and plates.
Two years ago, the mother of three decided to upgrade her pottery skills and got into raku, a technique used for making decorative clay art.
Today Brown teaches clay art to children and is a decorative artist, who uses clay to express both her Prairie roots and her Catholic faith.
Brown, a clay instructor with the Profile Arts Society and a member of the St. Albert Potters' Guild, is one of 17 local artists who showed their work June 3 at the 11th annual Contact 2001 exhibit at Star of the North Retreat House.
The show is a celebration of art and its main purpose is to allow artists to demonstrate how their work is influenced by their spirituality, said Star of the North program director Linda McIsaac. "It's mainly to celebrate the connection between art and faith."
For many artists the show is also an opportunity to show their work to the community and to connect with other artists. About 100 people visited the show, which also included paintings, fabric art, mandalas and wheat weaving.
Brown, a member of Holy Family Parish, brought 26 clay pieces to the show, some of which depict the disappearing Prairie grain elevator, a theme close to her heart.
"My roots are in the Prairies. I was born and raised in Alberta and my father was raised in Saskatchewan and so the whole grain elevator and farming background comes out in my art," she said. "They are all being knocked down now so I'm trying to preserve a little bit of them."
Brown's Catholic faith also comes out in her art, mainly in the form of colourful religious pieces focusing largely on Jesus.
One piece depicts the crosses after the resurrection and captures wonderfully both the tragedy of Jesus' death and the hope that his resurrection brings to the world. The hope is represented by the brilliance of the golden rays shown behind the darkness.
Another piece depicts a triumphant Christ at the moment of the resurrection and yet another shows the risen Christ breaking through the darkness to bring the brilliance of hope and new life.
Also on display were at least two nativity scenes and a piece depicting the Eucharistic elements of bread and wine along with a sheaf of wheat.
"I believe that my faith permeates everything that I do, think, feel and believe," Brown says.
"This happens in a very concrete way when I work with the clay. My faith history and my Prairie roots come pouring out as I create.
"To take a shapeless piece of earth and create something pleasing is not only physically and emotionally satisfying, but also spiritually fulfilling. It's a visible way to express my belief in God and the wonders of God's creation."
Brown gets ideas for her art from what she reads as well as from her life experiences. A general idea is all she needs before she goes to the studio at the Potters' Guild and starts to work on a piece. The rest takes care of itself.
"I don't plan out what I'm going to do," she explains. "I just have the clay in front of me and it just seems to evolve."
Visitors were impressed with Brown's work. "Her art is very expressive and I think her work on grain elevators is especially beautiful," commented Margaret Suntjens of Edmonton. "Grain elevators are disappearing off the land and it's good to capture them in clay."
"This is really beautiful work," said John Schile as he admired the more religious pieces. "I love it."
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