Noblesville artist and writer Alys Caviness-Gober has been participating in a unique artists seminar focused on religion and spirituality.
Her art will be shown in a public exhibition opening March 5 at the Jewish Community Center, 6701 Hoover Rd., Indianapolis. The opening reception is at 5:30 p.m. March 7 with performances at 6:45 p.m.
Directed by Rabbi Sandy Sasso, the Religion, Spirituality & the Arts Seminar explores religious experience and understanding through art. The program began in 2013 at Butler University and is now a project of the IUPUI Arts & Humanities Institute.
“The program is an initiative to bring artists together from diverse backgrounds and disciplinary perspectives towards the same study of a religious text,” Sasso said.
The seminar groups 12 Indiana artists with five experts in fields such as religion, art history, music and visual arts. The group meets six times during a period of six months to read and discuss various religious texts which provide the inspiration for creating new artistic works such as music, poetry, visual art and more.
The 2018-19 session invited the artists to explore the biblical story of Lot’s wife from the Book of Genesis. In the book, angels command Lot to take his family and flee the evil cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to escape God’s wrath, telling them not to look back. Lot’s wife looks over her shoulder and becomes a pillar of salt.
“It’s a fascinating idea to take biblical stories and look at them through a different lens,” Caviness-Gober said.
Caviness-Gober created two paintings and wrote three corresponding poems during the six-week session. One painting depicts Lot’s wife as an eternal witness, showing the re-growth of the land after the destruction. Another painting draws parallels to the Sept. 11, 2001 attack on New York City’s World Trade Center.
“It’s based on my experience watching Sept. 11 unfold from my TV here in Noblesville,” Caviness-Gober said. “Lot’s wife was a witness to the destruction of the city she lived in. I felt very strongly that there was a connection for people like me who sat and witnessed this destruction. Being a human being and part of the fabric of humanity, that episode in our culture was life-changing.”
Caviness-Gober, 55, has a lifelong rare, incurable lung disease. She turned to art in her late 40s after experiencing a slew of additional health challenges.
“I’ve always written, but I started doing my artwork as a way to process the changes in my life,” Caviness-Gober said.
The exhibit runs through April 30.