Artist strives to unite head and heart

Through paintings, such as Madonna and Child, Saskatoon artist Gisele Bauche aims to give glory to God.

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Through paintings, such as Madonna and Child, Saskatoon artist Gisele Bauche aims to give glory to God.

September 8, 2014
CHRIS MILLER
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER

EDMONTON – Gisele Bauche struggled to find the balance between her head and her heart.

Bauche always had an interest in growing in her faith. Scriptures, liturgy and sacraments appealed to her, so studying theology made sense.

But she also comes from a family of professional artists, so she enjoyed creating her own art that reflected mood, inspiration and beauty.

She could feel the tension coming from the academia of the head and the intuitive nature of her heart. Combining the head with the heart is essential in most art, whether music, drama or painting.

After beginning her studies at Newman Theological College 40 years ago, she went on to earn degrees in theology, religious studies and education from universities in Canada, the U.S. and Israel.

She was director for 18 years at the Catholic Pastoral Office in the Saskatoon Diocese, followed by 11 years as director of Queen's House Retreat and Renewal Centre in Saskatoon.

"My drive was to make art become real through Scripture, to make it come alive through my baptismal call," said Bauche, seeking through her art to reveal the richness of the Christian tradition. "So when you look at my art, I try to make it relate to children, to adults, and to older people. Look at my art and you can see a story.

"The heart is where we listen. I do grief and loss courses, and I use art to help people get through their grief.

"There is no moving easily through death, a lost job or divorce. You can sit in the head as long as you want because the head will intellectualize it, ask the questions, 'Why me? What happened here?'" she said.

STUCK IN THE MUCK

As long as people in grief are stuck in the head, trying to analyze their situation, she said they will "stay in the muck," moving in circles endlessly. Instead, they must use their hearts, use intuition, to move forward. Art is a doorway to healing and a tool for transformation.

"The heart, the soul, the spirit – that's where we lose the pain, and that's where the healing takes place," Bauche said.

Gisele Bauche

Gisele Bauche

She has had to deal with her own pain. Last year, within two months, she had several people close to her die, including her father and a longtime friend. Her nephew was murdered. She found that art not only nurtured her faith, it helped her to heal.

FINDING YOUR VOICE

Today, Bauche is an educator, facilitator and artist. She has taught such workshops as iconography, healing through artistic expression, finding your voice through art and spirituality, and painting scriptural impressions.

Her paintings use bold colours, simplicity of style, form and shape. She paints in a variety of media. Her works have been featured in the Catholic Extension Society's Calendar of Canada, Augsburg Fortress Publications, Novalis and many churches in western Canada, including St. Charles Church in Edmonton.

She authored a book called, Giving Glory to God: Reflections of an Artist.

"Giving glory to God summarizes what I'm trying to do. What I'm trying to draw out of my paintings is prayerful meditation, creative inspiration, practical reflection, praising and giving glory to God's eternal life," she said.

BEING RECEPTIVE

The creative process, Bauche said, is about receptivity; creation is not just one-sided. In her work, she strives to be receptive to the voice of the Holy Spirit in a manner akin to prayer.

Her responsibility is to listen to the Spirit and to the spirit of the artwork that she's creating, to step back and allow it to have a certain voice in its own creation.

"Like any relationship, there is a need for time spent together. In the end, art is more a question of receptivity in trust than controlled creativity," she said. Without listening, there is no finished painting.