Opening Reception / Meet the artist: Friday, September 3 / 5-8PM
Free and open to the public.

Opening Reception coincides with Art 'Round Town monthly gallery walk in Portsmouth.

Exterior shapes and interior spaces At first glance, artist Lynne Barr’s arresting geometric sculptures feel complete. It is not until you step closer and engage with them that they begin to tell their stories. Why are some things hidden? How do ideas and beliefs become mainstream? Who are the storytellers of today? Is it possible to hold onto a belief and still make room for others?

Artist Statement:
"Telling Stories
is a show which puts atheism on an equal footing, in a public space, with theism. Until recent years, I’ve been inclined to keep my life-long disbelief in a deity private. But the current populist normalization of authoritarianism, particularly in the US, which derives its support, in no small part, from far-right religious groups, disturbs me greatly. The unquestioning, enthusiastic embrace of authoritarian leaders, and the undermining of democracy, motivated me to explore the role religion might play in this political trend.

While working on the art for this show, my readings on the intersection of religion and politics confirmed, for me, a clear connection between religious affiliation and partisan politics. Even though data shows an overall decline in religious affiliation in the US, religious ideologies continue to influence policies that affect the entire population.

Looking strictly at evangelical registered voters, seventy-seven percent identify as Republican, while just eighteen percent identify as Democrat. But two of the largest religious groups, the African Methodist Episcopal Church and the National Baptist Convention, are consistently Democratic. Research has also shown that members of both parties tend to reject, straightaway, any legislation not presented by their own party. We still seem to be a species with tribal inclinations.

These inclinations, both religious and political, appear to take root in childhood. The majority of adults today adhere to the institutions they were introduced to as children and which they grew up with. There is a reason that those early years are referred to as formative years. Breaking from religious traditions as adults often alienates people from their families, and political differences have certainly caused fractures between family members during recent years.

For the art in Telling Stories, there are wall mounted sculptures which reflect my own viewpoint on religion, in addition to a forty foot long ark-inspired structure for visitors to enter. Sharpie markers will be available at the Gallery, and I invite visitors to use them to write on the walls inside the ark, to share their own opinions regarding the subject of religion, and its intersection with, or influence on, political ideology. By writing on these walls, visitors may communicate with me and others in the community. Although this communication is not an actual dialog, it is an opportunity to read others’ opinions around religion and reflect on our own biases or polarized views." -- Lynne Barr

Lynne Barr Bio:
Lynne Barr is a contemporary artist living in rural Maine. She began work as an artist late in life after writing for Abrams Books. Her artwork is focused on subjects she has strong opinions about, and she is committed, in her shows, to providing interactive opportunities to others to express their own viewpoints. Her next body of work will look at the intersection of religion, the environment and animal rights.

Funded in part by a grant from the Maine Arts Commission, an independent state agency supported by the National Endowment for the Arts.


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