Sandra Bowden’s gilded altarpieces in Reflecting the Glory speak with quiet nuance and subtle affect. Drawing inspiration from many of the most beloved altarpieces of our treasured past, she has created multi-paneled groupings while using her own signature gold-leaf encaustic technique to interpret that form in a distinctly abstract way. The resulting patina of the installation’s surface speaks to the mystery of the God too wondrous to be fully named and too mysterious to be completely known.
Stripped of the dense imagery that characterizes many of these paintings, the form of Bowden’s altarpiece lends itself to interpretation as the Divine Presence garbed in a sort of articulated mantle, whose fully extended arms express the broad inclusiveness of God’s love and grace. Their distinct shapes identify the celebrated works, but because of their solid gold surface, allow the viewer to delight in the radiance of each panel, while drawing on memory and imagination to fill in the forms. This impression becomes especially powerful and intimate in realizing that the image of each viewer’s presence is indistinctly reflected on the surface of the work. This connection, this awareness of the wondrous, mysterious relationship between God and humankind, invites not only consideration of who God has been, but also radical openness to who God yet will be.
A multi-panel installation is also featured in Reflecting the Glory. Forty encaustic gilded panels and forty black panels that are incised with text, become 40 Days/40 Nights. The black panels are inscribed with the text from John 1, “the light shines in the darkness and the darkness does not overcome the light.”
Artists do not merely put on canvas what can be seen. They uncover and reveal something beyond the range of the eyes.
“I believe that art is a means to illuminate both the interior life and the exterior world, both seen and unseen. I hope Reflecting the Glory will lead those who see the exhibition beyond the edge of their consciousness into a place of splendor, wonder and transcendence.” –Sandra Bowden