Art — Local Artist, Global Message

Local Artist, Global Message

 

By Michelle Saturley

 

Artist and teacher Lori Shorin is not a religious person.

“I prefer to think of myself as more of a spiritual person, not affiliated with any denomination,” she said. “As a child, I was turned off by organized religion, because it seemed to be delivered with a ‘we’re the only religion’ overtone. But I was always intrigued by some of the rituals and teachings.”

Shorin’s spiritual interest sparked the theme behind her upcoming exhibit, “You in Me and I in You,” opening Dec. 10 at the New Hampshire Institute of Art’s Vault Gallery at Fuller Hall. Shorin, a three-dimensional design and visual art instructor at the Institute, came up with the concept after reading Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramhansa Yogananda.

“In the book, the Yogi describes how, after learning the basic teachings of many major religions such as Christianity, Buddhism, and Islam, he realized that many of the underlying messages — take care of each other, don’t judge, treat people the way you’d want to be treated — were the same,” Shorin said. “It got me thinking about the truth in that, and I started doing my own research.”

The result of her research is a group of about 10 sculptures, all representing historical religious figures in a modern format. Each piece in the show has a specific purpose.

“I used clear acrylic on the pieces because I didn’t want any of the figures to be defined by the color of their skin,” Shorin said. “And the figures’ faces are mirrored, so when the viewer looks into the face of Christ or Buddha, for example, they see themselves reflected back.”

The name of the exhibit, “You in Me and I in You,” is taken from a line from John 14:18, in which Jesus extends his invitation to those of all faiths to share in the Trinitarian relationships.

“It’s an invitation of inclusion and acceptance,” Shorin said. “That’s the idea behind this exhibit as well, that regardless of our chosen faith, we are all connected, and that our beliefs are not really so different.”

Shorin created the pieces shortly before a nine-week stay in India. She says the experience, which led her through the noisy streets of major cities as well as the solitude of the Himalayas, solidified the ideas of the work she created.

“I was surprised at how openly devotional the people were,” she said. “I was in a taxi, and as we passed a shrine, the driver stopped, got out, prayed and left an offering. There are holy statues and artwork everywhere. But even so, the people of India are very accepting of other faiths.”

Shorin hopes her exhibit will engage viewers in a personal spiritual dialogue — especially in today’s social climate.

“Fear and distrust have made tolerance of other faiths, particularly the Muslim religion, more difficult,” she said. “But in my research I found that Islam and Christianity are closely connected. I think that’s an important step towards reaching an understanding.”

“You in Me and I in You” opens at the Vault Gallery at Fuller Hall, located at 156 Hanover St. on Friday, Dec. 10, 5-7 p.m. The exhibit runs through Jan. 28. For more information, call the New Hampshire Institute of Art at 623-0313.

—Michelle Saturley

 
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