An Exhibition of Marian Altarpieces

by Malaika Favorite
Kathleen Girdler-Engler
Janice E. Williams

Exhibited at the Marian Library: January 6 - February 28, 1992

In Christian symbolism and liturgy, the altar symbolizes both the table of the Last Supper and the Cross, the institution of the Eucharist and Christ's redemptive death and resurrection. Thus, Holy Mass is the communion/gathering of believers celebrating the memorial of Christ's crucified love for all of us.

[Madonna and Child of St. Lucia by Malaika
Madonna and Child of St. Lucia
Monoprint 1993 by Malaika Favorite

Altarpieces, also called altarscreens or reredos, as a ruled are carved or painted images which top the altar and illustrate scenes of Christ's life or that of saints, in particular that of the patron saint after whom the church is named. Altarpieces may consist of only one holy image or represent, especially in the Gothic and Baroque periods, highly elaborate visualizations of the whole Christian message. Among the better known ones we are to mention such altarpieces as the diptych or the triptych. It was not uncustomary to paint on the outside of a folding triptych the Annunciation of our Lord to Mary (closed wings), and on the inside (open wings, lateral panels) the major events of his mission, culminating in his death on the cross or his resurrection depicted on the central panel.

Due to recent changes in the liturgy, the altar is no longer fixed to the wall of the church, but stands free in the center of the sanctuary. Alas, as a consequence, altarpieces are no longer in demand. Thus, the art exhibited not only reminds (sometimes remotely) of this rich artistic tradition. It also explores new ways to express the fundamental realities of life and death typified in the person of Mary and through events of her existence. Greater than life and deeply human at the same time, Mary channels the boundless joy of life given, and the almost unbearable torture of life taken, into artistic creations of spiritual courage and bold commitment.

Malaika Favorite

[Madonna and Child with Angel]
Madonna and Child with Angel
Monoprint 23 in. 1995
by Malaika Favorite
Ms. Favorite is an artist and writer in Augusta, Georgia, and is a part-time instructor of art at Augusta College, Augusta, Georgia. The Bachelor and Master of Fine Arts degrees were earned at Louisianna State University, Baton Rouge, Louisianna. The Posselt-Baker Gallery, New Orleans, Louisianna; Galerie Melancon, Lake Charles, Louisianna; and South Shore Bank, Chicago, Illinois, are among the shows in which she has exhibited.

"My altarpieces are designed to show Christ for every person. He becomes personal to all of us despite our cultural differences. They also show that the suffering of others is the suffering of Christ, as stated in Matthew 25:40."

Madonna of Ethiopia, acrylic, 20"x 16"

Madonna and Child of North America, acrylic, 30"x 26"

The Pieta of South Africa, oil on canvas, 42"x 56"

The Christ of the Silent Scream, oil on canvas and wood, 22"x 23"x 15"

Kathleen Girdler-Engler

Ms. Girdler-Engler's Bachelor of Fine Arts was earned at Augusta College, Augusta, Georgia. Her work has been exhibited in Georgia Artists '90, DeKalb Council for the Arts, Atlanta, Georgia; McIntosh Gallery, Atlanta, Georgia; and the Gertrude Herbert Art Institute, Augusta, Georgia. Her work is in the collection of Southern Bell, Atlanta, Georgia; and commissions include a bronze sculpture fountain for the Maxwell Performing Arts Theater, Augusta, Georgia.

"My own pregnancy last year inspired this single panel altarpiece. It pays homage to the Virgin Mary and all women who have experienced pregnancy and birth. I have not pursued the historical Mary but concentrated on the different aspects of the Virgin following the Annunciation. the theme of the nursing Virgin, Maria Lactans, is symbolized by the bronze breastplate of Mary. Milk is a crucial metaphor of the gift of life, without it a child had little chance of survival before the days of babyfood and formula. I regard the pregnant Virgin as a sublime and beautiful image representing motherhood in its fullness and perfection. These ideas and forms seek the deeply spiritual feeling which prompts religion and art. "

Hail Mary, fiberboard and cast bronze, 6'10"x 4'x18"

Janice E. Williams

Assistant Professor of Art since 1987, Janice Williams has been affiliated with the Department of Fine Arts at Augusta College, Augusta, Georgia, since 1981. She earned the Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Georgia, Athens, Gerogia, and the Master of Fine Arts degree from Indiana State University, Terre Haute, Indiana. Ms. Williams has exhibited most recently at the Istituto D'Arte "Dosso Dossi" in Ferrara, Italy; the Albany Museum of Art, Albany, Georgia; and at Georgia Southern College Gallery, Statesboro, Georgia.

"In 1990 I went to Italy where I experienced many beautiful altarpieces; all were emotionally moving. The most moving for me was one of Michelangelo's Pietas. His sculpture is a representation of the Virgin Mary and St. John mourning the dead Christ. The theme of the Pieta seems to be of two sorts: in the Christian interpretation the foundation of the concept of life eternal; in a secular interpretation, a universal feeling of great loss. Both aspects of the theme led me to this Pieta [the altarpiece in the Roesch Library lobby]."

Pieta, oil on canvas and wood, 10'9"x 9'x10"

Pieta, oil on canvas, 40"x 30"

Pieta, pastel on paper, 30"x 22"

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