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Transfourming Sorrow

At the Wisdom House

by Joseph Montebello

Wisdom House has long been recognized for its creative and thought-provoking programs that attract people from across the country. As an interfaith retreat and conference center presenting programs in spirituality, education, and the arts—many of them on the cutting edge of creativity, it is not surprising that the next art installation, Transfourming Sorrow, is a one-of-a-kind event.

Conceived by multimedia artist Kardash Onnig and curated by visual artist Tony Carretta, the exhibition has interactive moments and thought-provoking, unexpected elements.

To complement and exhibit the work in its best form, Wisdom House will turn its 10,000-square foot chapel into a gallery.

“The main part of the installation will occupy the first—and largest—level of the chapel,” explains Carretta. “People will enter through the smaller gallery, this narrow space, a compressed state of feeling yourself and then suddenly you enter this wide-open area.

“There will a drum representing a heart beat and a symphony of sounds to reflect each element. Pieces of objects will be hung above, symbolizing rising above your own internal sorrow. A place like the chapel implies both retrospection and introspection. There will be the interaction of the installation and the people around you who are experiencing the moment as well.”

While it is a leap of faith to make such a commitment to one artist, spirituality coordinator Sister Jo-Ann Iannotti says she is excited about the presentation.

“Wisdom House is open to everyone and we encourage creativity and believe in trying the unknown,” she explains. “We try to encompass all areas: spirituality, education, the arts and the environment. We have welcomed artists on all levels—some come to teach and exhibit and some come to learn.

“Julia Cameron was the first art experience we had,” she continued. “It enabled us to bring artists together for reflection on themselves and to be part of a community as they shared ideas from her book, The Artist’s Way. It was a wonderful experience and we knew that we should continue down that path. When Tony made me aware of Kardash Onnig and his concept, I knew that Wisdom House was the perfect venue for it.”

Lebanese-born Kardash Onnig believes that art is the ideal way to illustrate the futility of human conflict while presenting the possibility of resolving differences through mutual responsibility and common self-interests. He looks upon Transfourming Sorrow as an invitation to grieve, but to also transform collective sorrow.

“I talk about grief,” says Onnig, “because it is a big issue for many of us. How do we come out of our grief? We are all full of our own history and we seem never to want to look at the other side. How can we translate our ability to examine ourselves to understanding others? My abiding goals have been to help break down cultural barriers, to cross borders, to transform sorrow into the miracle of universal rebirth through human kinship.”

Onnig has taken the idea of universality and created a three-dimensional communication system. It comprises four forms that have their genesis in the principle quaternary, the ancient symbol of creation. The four in his title represents all fours: the four seasons, the four primary elements of air, earth, water and fire, and the four disciplines of art, science, philosophy and spirituality. Each one is a lifeline.

Carretta further explains: “There will a drum representing a heart beat and a symphony of sounds to reflect each element. Pieces of objects will be hung above, symbolizing rising above your own internal sorrow. A place like the chapel implies both retrospection and introspection. There will be the interaction of the installation and the people around you who are experiencing the moment as well.”

Transfourming Sorrow, opens at Wisdom House with a reception for the artist on May 20th from 3-7PM. There will be an informal walk through the exhibition with the artist on June 3rd at 3:30. The exhibition runs through July 29th.

For further information, call Wisdom House at 860-567-3163 or click on the link below.



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