The Re-Imagining Narratives exhibition that opened at Jugglers, Friday July 11, was the result of the doctoral research undertaken by Dr. Theresa Renando, who sought to explore spirituality and its progression today. Searching through the stories of 479 people who participated in the research, the exhibition combines excerpts from these stories accompanied by the visual art of Renando. With the intention of connecting people further to the research through her visual work, the stories provide a glimpse into the lives of a select few who described their individual understanding of the concept of spirituality. The intimate stories revealed the pain of loss and the trauma of abuse, and how through solidarity and closure some had found what they saw as the spiritual turning of themselves. The artwork that accompanied the research were composed primarily of mixed media, digitally produced then re-worked with different mediums.
Given the degree of information the exhibition was at times difficult to digest. Though with this said generally people on the night were willing to give their attention to each story and artwork eliciting interesting conversations in response. As I walked around the space I found some people lingering longer than others with a particular story finding their own connection between artwork and narrative. With the intention of providing a narrative through visual art to help others connect with her research and the question of spirituality today, the link between artwork and research was difficult to define. Whether the artwork needed to be or was intended to be distinctly addressed to each story probably doesn’t matter as the exhibition overall seemed to provoke the discussion of spirituality in Western culture today. The fluctuation in stories between those who found Christianity a foundation for spirituality and then on the other hand the views of an atheist who spoke of having a sense of the spiritual provided an interesting contrast in opinions. Overall the exhibition revealed an amount of uncertainty towards spirituality revealing its difficult nature, that it cannot be stated in any absolute way. In truth it’s the opposite, all things must be lived before they can be found.
The combination of visual art by Ranado alone with her doctoral research made for an interesting exhibition. However, from the 479 people who participated in the research it seemed heavily inclined toward the views of Christianity rather than a more holistic inclination for a broader religious understanding toward spirituality. That although spirituality is difficult to articulate, the essence of its emergence in the world is never one sided. This you should think would have emerged out of nearly five hundred people who choose to include their views. Either way the overall response gathered from the exhibition was there are those who find spirituality through religion, others when alone, and others when with people yet the majority cannot define what spirituality is, but they know that it is non the less.