Engaging with the art in Geheimnis – Visual Mediation on Ecclesiastes, Mortality, Mystery, Glory is like going back to college without paying tuition. Artist Kelly Kruse provokes and challenges us to reflect about our lives, humanity, and spirituality. One visit is not enough. There is simply too much to take in and absorb in one viewing, but I assure you, the return trip is worth the effort. This exhibit is on display until December 5 in church, the John XXIII Gallery and Teresa of Calcutta Hall on the lower level.
Kelly describes her work as contemporary illumination. She delves deeply into the human experience, from light and beauty to suffering and death. She is upfront about her personal battle with depression and has used art exploring theology, history, and beauty to find her way forward. With a background in classical music and opera, Kelly studied Medieval and Renaissance music in Italy. During this time, she came upon the idea of illumination as she explored connections in scripture, poetry, music, and the visual arts.
Two years in the making, Kelly drew her inspiration for Geheimnis from scripture, music and famous authors like Dietrich Bonhoeffer, John Donne and Shakespeare. “Geheimnis” is the German word for “secret.”
Studying Ecclesiastes, she drew inspiration from the Hebrew term “hevel,” meaning vapor, smoke or breath—something elusive that can’t actually be grasped, but momentarily felt or glimpsed. Kelly noted that “hevel” is used 38 times in Ecclesiastes, is an abstract concept—it’s an enigma, a paradox she sees as part of our human nature and develops in her art. She invites us to explore the unseen while challenging us to be uncomfortable in a place of not knowing.
Kelly’s non-representational art needs to be experienced in person. Using layers of vibrantly colored acrylic ink and foil, she describes “the wonder of the materials” and “how the foil is transformed by the layers of ink.” Mica, metal, and marble are added on fragile vellum and rice paper for some pieces and transparent dura-tar for another.
A series in Teresa of Calcutta Hall is based on Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 “For everything there is a season.” One piece titled “Glory of the City of God” drew me into reflection about The Basilica’s vision. Inspired from Jeremiah 29:7 “Seek the well-being of the city and pray for it to the Lord, for in seeking its well-being, you will find your own.” As I considered Minneapolis, “City of God” gave hope and challenge to recommit to our Basilica vision. Kelly describes “places of light and places of darkness” citing Isaiah 60 “ if we have the light we shall be the light.”
Writing on her website Kelly shared, “I believe in the value of connecting faith and art for the modern mind, both as an artist and a holder of great work. It is vital to culture to wrestle visually with ideas that are difficult to voice. I also believe it is good for the human soul to grapple with our inherent limitedness, our life’s givenness, and the fact that we are partners for better or worse with the unseen world that sits behind what we can touch.”
Experience Kelly Kruse’s art firsthand and mark your calendars to meet her at a reception at 1:00pm on December 5 in Teresa of Calcutta Hall, lower level of The Basilica.