“The Art of Healing” presents works by artists whose lives have been touched by illness

“Facing the Unknown”, Deborah Bentley, silk painting, 2021.

The Japanese term “yugen” refers to a deep and mysterious sense of the beauty of the universe and the sad grace of human suffering.

Located inside the New Mexico Cancer Center, Gallery With a Cause presents “The Art of Healing” until February 18th. The exhibition features 380 meditative works created primarily by artists whose lives have been affected by a fatal disease. Forty percent of every sale goes to the cancer center foundation that serves patients’ non-medical needs for utility bills, child care, food and shelter.light point

Albuquerque artist Jona Lou Batt began painting when she was a co-owner of a Gallup pawnshop. She started out by copying Native American art postcards in watercolor.

“I copied them; they weren’t mine, ”Batt admitted. “It was their culture and I was stealing from them.”

It would take her 20 years and a move to Albuquerque before she took up painting again. Then she had a daughter and immersed herself in the world of children’s dance. It refocused her life after a bad cult experience.

Batt bought his first canvas, sprayed it with water, and let his brush follow the drops.

“I’m not the same person who wants to prove myself,” she said. “I wanted to use acrylic because the colors were so vivid and vibrant. It was my first experience with abstraction. This time I said, “I just want to play with color.”

Batt’s recent piece “Time Travel” came about during a spiritual introspection. Viewers had said his abstractions looked like constellations.

“I wanted to see if I could make my space paintings look like space,” she said. She paired her blue with orange for contrast.

“Time Travel”, Jona Lou Batt, acrylic on canvas, 2021.

She realized that it was her fear of the unknown – especially death – that had drawn her into the cult.

“It’s an awareness of the unknown that triggers emotions too deep and powerful for words,” she said. “It’s that unspoken answer you get when you see something beautiful and think about your mortality. I always wanted the answers. I finally got to the point where I was comfortable not knowing.

“Reindeer Goddess”, Judith Shaw, gouache on paper, 2016.

Deborah Bentley, originally from Wisconsin, began dabbling in silk after she and a friend painted fabric, turning them into scarves.

“I got hooked,” she said.

A retired math teacher / computer programmer, Bentley discovered a silk painting group when she moved to Rio Rancho in 2014.

“I didn’t feel like I needed a lesson; I was just having a good time, ”she said. “They invited me to come in; I learned a whole bunch of them.

The women met monthly to show each other what they had produced. Bentley learned to dye silk. The paint rests on the fabric; the dye absorbs in it, she said, producing vivid colors.

“The tinctures you can do more with,” she added. “It’s easier to mix colors. “

His work “Facing the Unknown” appeared after he created watercolor cards with goddesses for his friends.

“It’s tying this goddess idea to my floss,” Bentley said. “The background is pretty blurry and that’s the unknown.

“Silk is the ideal medium for me,” she continued. “I find the luscious movement and the mixture of dyes on the silk exciting; bright colors suit my personality. Most of my paintings are done on 16mm crepe de chine.

The silk crepe produces a rippling effect, giving the fabric a three-dimensional texture, she explained. The result is a subtly luxurious fabric.

“Breking the Rules”, Sandra Corless, digital photography, 2019.

Broker Sandra Corless entered photography at the start of the digital age. A long-time amateur ornithologist, his specialty has become sandhill cranes. Photographer Corrales was the artist of the Festival of Cranes 2014.

Corless embraces photographic traditions using modern tools and techniques. She is also a cancer survivor who turned to photography as she recovered.

“I started birding and loved it,” she said. “I was so in love with being outside. Then I started to photograph them.

Largely self-taught, she took a few courses before developing her style.

“We’ve been to Costa Rica twice with some really good photographers,” she continued. “You develop skills; you learn to find the defining moment. This is when your photograph becomes a work of art.

Corless dives into post-production after filming the cranes via Photoshop editing.

“There is so much chaos around them,” she explained. Corless removes clutter (trees, shrubs, tall grass, and the rest of the flock) so the viewer can more easily focus on the bird and its behavior.

“People identify with it because it’s so human,” she said.

Sometimes these revisions produce magic.

For “Breaking the Rules”, she placed two birds on tree branches, poses often found in Japanese prints and paintings. Sandhill cranes do not nest in trees due to the shape of their feet.

“They seem so happy,” Corless said. “You see them dancing and twirling. I always wonder what playlist they are listening to.

About Frances White

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