Wednesday May 18, 2005

Marian Art Exhibit

It's a devotion that extends beyond prayer to art and poetry.

"Poland is a country that is dedicated to Mary, so much so that Poles call her the Queen of Poland," said the Rev. Johann G. Roten, S.M., director of the Marian Library-International Marian Research Institute at the University of Dayton. "There is a very strong interconnectedness between Marian devotion and all aspects of Polish life."

That devotion has come to life through paint and pen in "Polish Madonnas in Art and Poetry," an exhibit of 50 oil paintings by Polish artist Wislawa Kwiatkowska on loan from the Diocesan Museum of Plock in Poland. The exhibit is on display from May 17 through Sept. 9 at the University of Dayton Marian Library, located on the seventh floor of the Roesch Library, and the first-floor library gallery. The complete exhibit, which has never before left Poland, is available for viewing Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday noon to 6 p.m.

The exhibit is more than an example of the Polish people's devotion to the Mother of God; it is a glimpse at the cultural, religious and artistic heritage of Poland, something that remained a bit of a mystery until recently.

"For a long time, until the Iron Curtain came down, most of us didn't know anything about Polish art," Roten said. "What we have come to find out in recent years is that Polish art is extremely rich."

Kwiatowska's vibrant images of the Madonna are interwoven with colorful flowers,plants, birds and animals.? The colorful nature-inspired images overflow from the canvas and incorporate the painted frames. Each painting was inspired by the text of Polish poetry; many of the poems were written by the Rev. Jan Twardowski, a Polish priest and avid nature lover.

"Religion permeates the whole Polish mentality," Roten said. "It is so much a part of their daily life."

The exhibit was made possible through funding by the Marion and Irene Glass families and the Polish Heritage Foundation. The Marian Library will sponsor various cultural events throughout the exhibit's run, including a Celebration of Polish Culture at 7 p.m. Thursday, June 23.

The Marian Library-International Marian Research Institute at the University of Dayton houses the world's largest collection of information about Mary and a doctoral program in theology. The collection includes art prints, clippings, artifacts and slides.

For media interviews, contact the Rev. Johann G. Roten, S.M., at (937) 229-4257. Images from the exhibit can be viewed at campus.udayton.edu/mary/polishexhibit

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