Visual Prayer: The Interfaith Artists Circle

Visual Prayer: The Interfaith Artists Circle

Our current art exhibit is VISUAL PRAYER.  Visual prayer is the creative exploration and expression of prayer through images. Although this is a contemporary concept, there is a long history of using art in worship – including illuminated religious books.

Water Lilies

I draw and paint from life and nature around me. I am fascinated by the intricate patterns found in flowers and leaves. I seek to capture the interplay of light and color on natural forms. Silk painting and batik are ideal medium for exploring the natural beauty of flowers and leaves. The translucency of silk fabric, bleeding and blending of silk dyes, and wax resist to preserve the light areas all contribute to my process of transforming floral images into abstract designs.

Artist Jeanne Aaron
Batik on Silk | 24" x 62"

A Forgotten Prayer

This painting represents "People of the House of Prophesy", Fatimah, her father, her husband, and her two sons. It is an illustration of the "Story of The Cloak". Narrated by Fatimah, the stroy described how this quintinity (five in one) forms a holy unit. Subtly but clearly, the story created a hierarchy that starts with Fatimah. Her father, Prophet Muhammed, not only appeared second but also asked for her protection and care. I called it prayer because, in the end of the story, there is a directive that whenever it is retold there will be blessings to everyone present. ​My work unfolds across screen-printing, drawing, sculpture, and installation. My palette plays with vibrant reds, yellows, and hot pinks that alternate with majestic gold, purple, and blue. I draw stylized human figures within Islamic patterns and traditional women’s art practices patterns I grew up with. Questioning aesthetic rules opens up ways to question social ones.

Artist Hend al-Mansour
Acrylic on Canvas | 24" x 30"

Icon of the Prophet Elijah

I have studied iconography for many years with a group of devoted students under the guidance of master teachers. The process (known as “writing an icon”) is painstaking, exacting, and exquisite. It follows age-old rules, using sketches and color palettes prescribed by Orthodox tradition. We begin with materials that represent our earthly experience (dark pigments, clay) and seek to transform them using materials that represent divine light (highlights, gold leaf). Traditionally, iconographers would draw the eye of God on the unpainted panel to remind them that the icon is like a permeable membrane where the viewer not only beholds God but God also beholds the viewer. This has been my experience. Through the symbolic nature of this work, I have seen more clearly both the challenges I face in my life as well as the gifts I have received. This icon depicts Elijah’s time in the desert as well as his mystical encounter in the cave. For Christians, Elijah is beloved because the synoptic gospels proclaim that he (along with Moses and several disciples) witnessed the Transfiguration of Jesus, a mountaintop experience where the full glory of the Christ was revealed.

Artist Beth Andrews
Egg tempura, bole (red clay mixed with hide glue) and gold leaf on gessoed pine board | 17"X21"

Windows into Prayer

Some days are lively and bright; Some contemplative and restful; or they may be in flux. These are my allegorical windows into prayer. Each window a different size, demonstrating the many ways in which an individual can approach or interpret prayer. Ostensibly some pathways may be more open than others. I was inspired by the description of the building of the Tabernacle in the Torah, the curtain and particularly the screen for the entrance to the Tent holding the Ark. "You shall make a screen for the entrance of the Tent, of blue, purple, and crimson yarns...." Exodus 26:36

Artist Sandy M. Baron
Handwoven cotton, summer and winter structure, tapestry techniques | 20" x 72"

Silent Prayer

For me, silent prayer is a time of reflection, a time when I examine inner personal issues as well as current issues that have an impact on my life.

Artist Jane Bassuk
Art quilt, cotton, beads, embroidery | 16.5"X20.5"

Meditation 2019

In 2019 I spent time thinking, contemplating, pondering about my life. I came to many realizations. Some “aha” moments surprised me. Some realizations clarified lingering feelings. Some recognition came with the response, “Of course”. As the year progressed, I prayed for the courage, strength and endurance to continue learning, to continue growing, and to continue looking for the wisdom needed to continue. Mediation 2019 is a record of my journey. Every evening I stitched in response to the day’s events, activities and thoughts. Each color represents a different aspect of my life. Some colors represent people – my husband, my father, myself. Some represent different arenas – art, work, daily life. Others represent abstractions – insight, internalizing positive feedback, inner conflict. My journey had a powerful impact on my life. Meditation, prayer and keeping a visual record are now part of my daily voyage.

Artist Sandra Brick
Fiber | 18"X18"

Grow, Grow

My piece is inspired by a passage from the Talmud. The translation of the Hebrew is: Every blade of grass has its own Angel that bends over it and whispers, “Grow, grow.” One interpretation could be that the world was created for us with intention. We need to pay more attention to our fragile world and everything in it. It is all G-d’s creation. Each action we take to repair the world, no matter how small is valuable.

Artist Gloria Cooper
Acrylics and mixed media collage | "15"X"15"

Prayer of Thanks

Encounters with nature in my life have held me and opened me up and given me great satisfactions and perhaps the greatest theater. In my childhood those playful elements of deep and shallow space and the varieties of texture, of bark and stones and sand and clay and really soft, moist footprints on deep forest floor and the sounds of rattling leaves and bird song above me were the most profound teachers of knowing the place where I lived, through the body.

And I am thankful for that.

Artist Elizabeth Erickson
Acrylic on paper-Triptych | 15'X57"


WHO has given us life, sustained us and brought us to this time. We say this prayer when we reach special times in our lives—it could be a major event, like a wedding, or eating a fruit for the first time in the season or celebrating a holiday…It is a prayer of gratitude. I have lived a long life and am grateful for all the many ages, occasions, and experiences with which I have been blessed—not just the big events but all the ordinary times from childhood through old age. My Jewish ancestors have been reciting this prayer for more than 1500 years.

Artist Lucy Rose Fischer
Reverse paint on hand blown glass | 14” x 13½” x 4”

The Prayer of the Soul

The making of this piece was a journey. The act of hand lettering layers upon layers of Hebrew prayers for this piece was in itself a prayer. At times I wrote the same prayer phrase over and over, at other times I wrote a variety of prayers once before repeating them all. Layers of lettering by hand became texture, and watching the layers of texture deepen, grow and change as new colors and additional prayers were written was a part of the process. The repetition of mark making became a physical manifestation of the repetition of prayers said over a lifetime. A sense of movement rather than static straight lines reflects the organic nature of prayers. Prayers make up both the ink background and cut paper foreground of this piece, just as prayers can be both background and foreground at the same time in our lives.

Artist Renanah (Rani) Halpern
Acrylic inks, cut paper | 24"X18"

My Prayers

I pray to God throughout each day. In this artwork I tried to show a glimpse of my daily life and the prayers I offer. During all the anxiety, chaos and distraction each day brings, I offer up my concerns to God, and things become more peaceful in my mind as I am reminded of the loving Creator who is ultimately in control of it all. Do not be anxious about anything, but in prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Jesus Christ.
Phil. 4:6-7

Artist Angela Heida
Ceramic | 9.5” x 9.5” x 13”

Visual Prayer

I consider myself a prayerful person without a strong traditional base.  For me, prayer is gratitude, awe and acceptance. This image “came” to me–a gift that happens sometimes. It was the close of Yom Kippur. I was sitting on my porch and had lit candles. I looked through the window to the garden, where the bugbane was in its late, riotous dance. I saw the candles reflected in their midst and made a photograph. But I wanted more light! I remembered a drawing I had made of a menorah given to me when I was a kid by a loved older neighbor, Miss Blazier, who bought it in Russia in the 1930s, when such travels by a single lady school teacher were acts of daring. In the computer I overlaid one image transparently on the other–and the light was intensified.

Artist Joyce Lyon
Digital photographic collage on rice paper | 22"x17"

Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread

“Give us this day our daily bread” is a prayer for that most basic of our needs. It is one of the petitions in the “Lord’s Prayer,” (the prayer Jesus taught his disciples) and is recorded in Matthew 6:11. I have incorporated its text into my painting in Koiné Greek, the original language of the New Testament. Fish and bread form the center of the piece – ordinary food eaten in biblical times and to this day. This appeal for sustenance correlates with scriptural references to God’s bounty, now and in the World to Come: “On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-matured wines…” (Isaiah 25:6) The provision of daily bread is a foretaste of the coming feast.

Artist Kirsten Malcolm Berry
Watercolor on paper | 24" x 25"

Judaic Prayer Wall: From Birth to Death and in Between

Aimee Orkin believes exploring prayer through art is a creative way to learn, meditate, and connect to God and community. She calls this Visual Prayer. Creating a visual prayer can be a healing process, and once finished, the piece of art can make a sacred space, like a mandala or a focal point for healing, relaxing, and bringing comfort during hardship and joy during celebration. Aimee chose ten prayers to study, illustrate and write, moving from birth/morning prayers to midlife/midday prayers and evening/end-of-life prayers. Each prayer was studied with different scholars and clergy, and they contribute to the collective wisdom of the art work. Aimee finds collaboration more inspiring than working solo. She chose the number ten because in Judaism it is a significant number, in contexts such as the Ten Commandments and the number of people needed for a minyan in order to recite certain other prayers, such as Kaddish.

Artist Aimee Orkin
Canvas backdrop with Batik painted canvas with bees wax and Jaquard silk dyes | 6'X8'

She Poured the Elixir of Mercy into the Watershed that Reaches the World Ocean

This painting is meant to be a prayer for the Earth. The young woman in sensible clothes represents the Buddhist goddess of compassion, Kwan Yin, as she pours her elixir of mercy into the Mississippi watershed on the north shore of Star Island (Cass Lake in northern Minnesota). My daughter, wearing a Greta Thunberg-like sweatshirt, is my Kwan Yin. Kwan Yin is a healer. She is often depicted as pouring an “elixir of mercy” from her apothecary jar. In this painting are “artist stones” – my husband’s balanced rocks on a driftwood branch and my chalk and charcoal drawings on rocks. (Chalk formed from sea creatures that lived in the primordial sea that covered this part of the world 400 million years ago and charcoal from island fires drawn on basalt left after the last ice age.) I wanted to honor the healing power of art and the climate change activists that are working to protect our Earth for future generations. This painting is dedicated to Greta Thunberg who moves me to tears. She is a truth-teller for our times.

Artist Susan Peploe
Acrylic | 15" x 30"

Beseech in Awe

I cry out from my soul ... and beseech my Maker...Creative Energy of the Unknowable, hear my pleas and healmy heart. May compassion, insight, love, and peace fill our hearts sowe may truly fulfill our stewardship on this beautiful planet as humankind.

Artist Paula Leiter
Drawing | 11"x 14"

wondering / seeking / listening / remembering / blessing

These paper vessels invite reading — reading the text that they contain and also “reading” of the vessels themselves — their form, their physicalness, their weight in your hands. Regula Russell's Paper Vessel Project with Book & Remembering: https://youtu.be/6ke1pIeQ5iI

Artist Regula Russelle
Handmade paper with cotton and abaca fibers, letterpress printing | 14” x 14”

Hineni Here I am

Over the years, I “drew my way through” many challenging medical moments with my late husband, Josh. Drawing helped me navigate his difficult and ever changing medical terrain. Paying attention through drawing helped me keep track of medical facts, attend to him and honor those who came to our side. Drawing was also a way to summon the Divine hands that I felt were always there to comfort and guide. I also found unexpected humor in situations that were not always funny. These three drawings were done during Josh’s eleven blood transfusions at Hennepin Health Care in early 2019. As I drew him, I wrote my own prayer for this miraculous procedure. The mystery and connection of receiving a blood transfusion. I also recorded Josh’s humorous remarks. May his memory be only for a blessing.

Artist Anita White
Brush pen/ink/watercolor | 20" x 42"

A Favorite Song

There are so many wonderful prayers that I discovered while researching this theme. In the end I came to understand that a prayer has the most meaning when it serves a particular moment or purpose. Not being able to decide on any one of many prayers I found the words to the song “Forever Young” by Bob Dylan had the most meaning for me at this time. I love these words and the sentiment of this song. When creating this piece, I used repetition to reinforce the words. “Repetition serves as a tool of remembrance – when we want to remember something important, we repeat it to ourselves over and over again. Our repetitive plea to God to remember us elevates the importance of the request.” Return Again: Finding Meaning in Repetition and Repentance, Rabbi Dusty Klass, Temple Bethel, Charlotte, NC.

Artist Rochelle Woldorshy
Digital collage with handwriting | 20" x 28"

About this Exhibit

Our current art exhibit is VISUAL PRAYER.  Visual prayer is the creative exploration and expression of prayer through images. Although this is a contemporary concept, there is a long history of using art in worship – including illuminated religious books.

We are excited and honored to host the work of The Interfaith Artists Circle of the Twin Cities for this exhibit.  They are a group of visual artists who pursue art as a spiritual journey. Originally founded in 2005 as the Jewish Women Artists’ Circle, the group has become an intersection of multiple faiths, with exhibitions in galleries, universities, and alternative venues in the Twin Cities and greater Minnesota.

These 20 artists of the interfaith group represent a diversity of traditions, observance, and belief. By exploring prayer through their work, the artists develop a connectivity, greater appreciation, and respect for the similarities and differences among religions.

We hope you will join us in the gallery to experience their work as we hold the world in prayer as our year comes to a close. Masks and proof of vaccination status are required to enter the Monastery.   This exhibit will run from November 8th through January 21st when we will again host our Seeing God exhibit.

You can find more information on these artists at www.interfaithartistcircle.com