Tuesday January 29, 2008

Word Pictures

Biblical texts about Mary come alive in a new calligraphy exhibit at the Marian Library.

Dayton-area artist Ann Bain gives life to Biblical texts about Mary, the mother of Jesus, in a new exhibit of calligraphy with elegant colors and historical inspiration, commissioned especially for the University of Dayton's Marian Library.

"When Words Become Pictures: Our Lady Calligraphed" is showing now through March 30 in the Marian Library gallery on the seventh floor of Roesch Library on the University of Dayton campus. Bain will be honored at a reception at 7 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 14 at the Marian Library lounge.

"It was our intent to collect and present all passages of Scripture dealing directly with Mary," the Rev. Johann Roten, S.M., director of the International Marian Research Institute/Marian Library, said. "We wanted the passages calligraphed in order to attract attention and highlight their importance and beauty and lead the onlooker to a visual appreciation of Mary's person outlined in Scripture."

Calligraphy, or artistic handwriting, is an ancient art form and is also a meditative activity that engages the body, mind and soul, Roten said.

In describing the series, Bain said she "designed the composition as a continuum, each piece an individual painting, but with a lead-in to the next one, so that when the 10 were lined up together, you would see the quotations flowing from one to the next, as in the timeline of biblical history."

According to M. Jean Frisk, S.S.M., the library's director of art and special projects, Bain's works are layered with text, colors, symbols and even surprises. She uses several calligraphy styles within each piece. The hidden surprises in each piece are scattered gold letters that make up one of the many names given to Mary, such as "Tree of Life."

Bain said she meditated on the texts to see how they could be illuminated with light and movement.

"Words are important and must be carefully used. When written down, they become real, legible, exact and allowing remembrance, imagination and wonder," she said.

The pieces were unveiled at the International Marian Research Institute's 2006 Symposium: Living with Mary Today. After March 30, their permanent home will be on the reference floors of the University of Dayton library.

The exhibit is free and open to the public. Hours for the Marian Library are 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday and Saturday and Sunday by appointment.

M. Jean Frisk, S.S.M, at 937-229-4254 or friskjem@notes.udayton.edu