Feature Articles

April Issue 2000

Waterworks Visual Arts Center in Salisbury, NC, Features Religious Works

Christian Journeys features the work of Salisbury, NC, artist Robert Doares, Wilmington, NC, artists Ellis Efird Furst and Donald Furst, and Elizabeth City, NC, artist Elizabeth Gladstone at the Waterworks Visual Arts Center in Salisbury. The exhibit will continue on view through June 4, 2000. The work of the four artists reflects a deep and abiding belief in a God-centered world, while the style and content of the work expresses individually unique and powerful spiritual aspirations and inspiration.

Robert Doares depicts a world which celebrates his belief in the millennium kingdom Christ will establish when he returns: peaceful, secure, happy, idealistic, and prosperous. A cloud-filled sky dominates the vision of this peaceable kingdom, symbolic of the majestic and beatific presence of God. Doares' says his realistic style reflects his profound respect for God's creation; he is comfortable recording his creator's handiwork rather than creating a new vision.

Ellis Efird Furst celebrates the glory of her faith with an exuberance of color and form. Her large mixed media pieces connect us to this world with a lavish use of materials and remind us of a more ethereal world in the devout iconic faces of her Holy Family and saints. Ellis and Donald Furst, husband and wife, share the same creative philosophy, "We believe that God made man in his own image. By implication, when people create art, they are echoing, however faintly, the creative character of God, maker of the universe."

Powerful, meditative, and enigmatic, etchings by Donald Furst lead us into a deep, quiet, spiritual journey, a series of passages that make us question the direction of that journey. One is reminded of the words of poet Denise Levertov in Jacob's Ladder, "One sees that the angels must spring down from one step to the next, giving a little lift of the wings: and a man climbing must scrape his knees, and bring the grip of his hands into play. The cut stone consoles his groping feet. Wings brush past him..."

Elizabeth Gladstone's poignant images of suffering and redemption reveal one measure of her ongoing personal spiritual journey. She comments that "my main body of work springs from prayer and meditation on events and truths of both the old and new covenants of the Judeo-Christian Bible." Gladstone's work embraces the intense emotions of the journey to Calvary, redemption through acceptance of suffering.

All four artists embrace the culture of the biblical word in scriptures and prayers as an integral part of the visual message and share an evangelical belief in both the authority of the gospel and in salvation through faith and grace.

Robert Doares maintains a studio in Salisbury and is perhaps best known for his series on the life of Christ, Immanuel, God With Us. The publisher, Crossway Books, also purchased the entire body of original work which they exhibit nationally. Doares began his career as a commercial artist and illustrator in 1929 after graduating from high school in North Carolina and moving to New York City. He and his wife Kay retired to Salisbury. At 89, he continues to work in his studio, recently completing the work on exhibit.

Ellis Efird Furst was born in Salisbury and completed her BFA at East Carolina University in 1982. She is a muralist, printmaker, and mixed media artist. She has exhibited most recently at St. John's Museum in Wilmington, NC.

Donald Furst is a professor in the Department of Art and Theater at UNC-Wilmington and received his MFA in printmaking at the University of Iowa in 1978. He received the Board of Governors Excellence in Teaching Award in 1999. St. John's Museum is presently hosting a major exhibition of his work. Furst's work has been exhibited internationally and is in significant collections nationwide, including the Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, and the Nelson-Atkins Museum, Kansas City, Missouri.

Elizabeth Gladstone is largely self-taught in art. She lived in Salisbury for several years before moving to Elizabeth City in 1998. Her work is found in private collections throughout the state and in the Episcopal Diocese of Eastern North Carolina and in the Chapel of Transfiguration at Kanuga Conference Center in Hendersonville, North Carolina. Her series, The Journey, was exhibited at Washington's National Cathedral.

During this exhibition period, Artwork by Rowan County Elementary School Students will be featured in the Young People's Gallery.

For further information check our NC Institutional Gallery listings or call the center at 704/636-1882.

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