Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Reflections on "Graced with light" by Anne Patterson, in Grace Cathedral, SFO

I've already reflected on my experience of a service at Grace Cathedral, and a little bit about the art installation they have there at the moment.  You can see that here.

Yesterday, I went back to Grace Cathedral, to see the finished artwork. Art is interesting ... hubby will tell you I'm not much of an art connoisseur (euphemism is strong in that statement). With me, all art falls into one of only two categories; Art I like, and art I dislike.

When Mike & I go to galleries, we have to agree to divide and conquer, and we meet up in the cafĂ© at the end, as we proceed at very different paces. Mike likes to admire, digest, study, understand and remember the art ... he can often instinctively tell who an artist's influences were, what techniques they're using, and whether they were ground-breaking in their techniques, style or subject. I, on the other hand, only know if I like it or not. If I like it, I'll go over and admire it ... occasionally, I may even study it.  If, however, I don't like a piece, I'll move immediately on.  I can't spend time looking at something I don't like, regardless of who it's by, how important it is as a piece, or how much it's worth.

I wouldn't dream of rushing anybody through a gallery or museum at my pace, so Mike gives me the freedom to rush through, and I give him the freedom to take his time.  If either of us sees a piece we want to show the other one, we'll go back and find the other.  Often, I enjoy the galleries themselves more than the art they contain, and I'll spend time watching the flow of people, looking at the architecture and the lighting.  Occasionally, because I'm fascinated by security (thanks to my Dad's former career), I'll study the security measures in place, and see if I can find any improvements that can be made.

Anyway ... that's all a massive aside.  Getting back to art I like vs. art I dislike. Art, like liturgy, speaks in different ways to different people, and what the artist intended isn't necessarily what the viewer perceives.

'Graced with light', by Anne Patterson, spoke to me in many ways. I don't know if any of them are as she intended, but I offer my impressions of it as a piece.  In short, I loved it. I spent hours studying it, photographing it from different angles (I even tried a little video with sound, but couldn't figure out that function on instagram). I've been to study it twice now, and will probably visit it again before I leave.

One of the reasons I love it is because it's made up of so many thousands of individual strands, which speak to me of community, of the strength of the whole being made up of it's individual parts, rather than about a single piece of art.  This is even more the case, because the community has been involved in putting the piece together, in helping to cut and hang each piece of ribbon.  All of this speaks about the value of each individual in the community, rather than the value of the artwork.
Looking up at the individual ribbons making up the completed piece
Looking up at the individual ribbons making up the completed piece.
Another reason I love it, is because it contains a range of different colours, mixed together.  There is no segregation, no separation into order, no attempt at conformity.  This speaks to me about the beauty that diversity brings to the whole. It speaks to me of the value of diversity, inclusivity & affirmation, and how the community is richer and more beautiful for it.  The fact that the ribbons are constantly fluttering with the airflow around them speaks to me about the freedom of each individual (ribbon) to be and having the freedom to move.

Thousands of different-coloured lengths of ribbon, hanging from the ceiling, facing the altar

Thousands of different-coloured lengths of ribbon, hanging from the ceiling, facing the West rose window

The third reason the installation particularly spoke to me, was the title "Graced with light," combined with the light shining on the ribbons from above.  This highlighted their differences and their beauty, rather than attempting to hide it in a dim space.  This particularly spoke to me of the value of celebrating differences and diversity, rather than hiding them, or expecting them to conform.  In particular, one phrase that entered my mind was, "If you see the world in terms of black and white, you need to step into the light".

Light shining on the ribbons hanging from the ceiling of Grace Cathedral

I love it as a piece, and as a community project. I love what it says to me, and I love that it's backed up by what we experienced when we attended the Sunday service.

This is, however, just a blog post, and I encourage you to go and see the real thing while it's up.  It may not speak to you in the same way as it spoke to me ... there's much here that is about my personal journey.  But it is very much worth seeing.

To close, two montages of images I collected during the day.

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