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Beyond Words Art Exhibit Brings Solace to Artists and Viewers

February 2, 2021
Categories: Our Community

What is a common thread that draws us all together? This is the question Ashley Sauder Miller, curator of the Beyond Words art exhibit, pondered when she was approached by VMRC about creating a show with a biblical foundation.

Ashley, who holds a Bachelor of Science in Art from Eastern Mennonite University and a Master of Fine Arts from James Madison University, has been drawn to this question in both her personal and professional life.  She says, “It’s easy to find the things that make us different, but finding the things we have in common takes more work.”

After much consideration, grief was the theme that kept emerging. Grief is something we all experience and can relate to. Ashley presented the concept of an exhibit that tells the stories of God’s faithfulness, even in our times of grief, with bible verses as inspiration.

Twenty-three artists from four states were selected to participate in this unique exhibit that showcases not just grief, but hope. Ashley says of the artwork, “the themes of loss and grief are continually paired with hope and joy.”

No one could have predicted when planning began in 2019 that the world would be in the middle of a pandemic at the time of the exhibit unveiling. So many have experienced varying levels of grief over the past year. Grief over the loss of physical connections, normalcy, jobs and loved ones yet, there has been joy and hope, too. Joy for more time spent at home with children, more time to rekindle an old hobby, and hope that we will again enjoy the things we once took for granted. “The duality of grief and loss paired with hope and joy is familiar to many and reflected in the works of art presented,” says Ashley.

When hearing about the concept of Beyond Words, five Foundation donors were inspired to offer gifts of financial support to ensure the exhibit would come to fruition.  The donors have all experienced the life-changing impact of losing a loved one and were called to be part of the message curated through the selected works. The concept of the show is significant to those participating, too, with one artist desiring to make an impactful difference at VMRC by donating their artwork for permanent display on the VMRC campus. Grief is indeed a common thread, one that draws us together in our loss, but that can ultimately offer solace and hope.

The Beyond Words Exhibit is available for viewing online at vmrc.org/park-gables-gallery through March 22.

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