Art with a Breath of Life

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When she heard about a new art project to benefit the St. Francis Retreat Center in DeWitt, Deborah Chloewicki, fiber artist and manager of Grove Gallery Co-op in East Lansing, realized it was just what she needed at that point in her life both personally and artistically. She was coping with the loss of her brother at the time when she and a fellow artist of Grove Gallery, Sharan Egan, were invited to construct a large art installation to complement a new hallway in the retreat center. Made from vines, fibers, copper and other natural materials, the piece is titled “Breath of Life — Woven in Mystery.” It’s meant to depict the calming of a storm, the sustaining of faith through any emotional turmoil. “I was confident we could create something that would represent that internal conflict where one transitions to a place of healing,” Chloewicki said. “Having recently lost my brother, I was feeling stuck, so the invitation to do this piece was absolutely what I needed to get back on track.” The art piece hangs in a new hallway in the retreat center which leads to the center for Sustaining Pastoral Excellence. “If you look closely you can see all the transformative space within the piece,” Chloewicki said. Egan, a textile artist with Grove Gallery and a pastoral minister at St. Gerard Church in Lansing, created the hand-painted backdrop to the hanging three dimensional piece Chloewicki constructed. And while the piece stands as a cohesive whole, the two worked on their individual parts separate from each other. “We collaborated on the piece in a very free-form way,” Egan said. “It’s just amazing how much in sync the two pieces began almost organically.” The mission of the Sustaining Pastoral Excellence task force who approached Chloewicki and Egan about the project is to promote arts within the faith community. “For me as an artist, to (be) able to witness someone else’s reaction to pieces such as ours is just phenomenal,” Egan said. “Good art does engage the viewer.”
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Tags: dewitt, Grover Gallery Co-op, St. Gerard Church