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The Sunflower

Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

REVIEW: Ulrich exhibit shows ties between spirituality alongside social justice talks

Suddenly my visual field went black, and I was given to see good and radiance alongside evil and chaos. I felt what I now know to be a swoon of rapture, bliss with a sense of understanding. I understood the world for … maybe 30 seconds. I never spoke of it at the time, but it is in me,” Lesley Dill, an artist based in New York, said of her own visionary experience with a journalist from Noah Becker’s “Whitehot Magazine of Contemporary Art.” 

Dill is known for her fervently thematic artwork, reflecting her connection with her faith and spirituality. Her work, “Wilderness: Light Sizzles Around Me,” is a traveling exhibition organized by the Figge Art Museum in Davenport, Iowa. The Ulrich Museum of Art is the last destination for this exhibit and will be available until December.

This artwork reflects the courage and creativity of 16 historical figures that had profound impacts in American history and the spiritual experiences that called them to do their social justice work in their time. Sewn and hand-painted sculptures and banners display quotations from these figures. The sculptures of “Mother Ann Lee and Sojourner Truth” are hanging “spirit-like” from the ceiling, a testament to Dill’s intention of displaying themes and metaphors in her artwork. 

In the exhibit “Lesley Dill in Conversation with Deborah Frizzell” the journalist for “Whitehot Magazine,” Deborah Frizzell, said that each of her sculptural persona emerged from the “wilderness” of their day; each figure raising a voice in response to troubled and chaotic times in which they lived.” 

Anne Huchinson, for example, had a vision in which she experienced grace. She began teaching her faith, and was put on trial and banished for it. Ksenya Gurshtein, curator at the Ulrich, added that this was “at a time when it was considered inappropriate and bizarre for women to preach.”

Jonathan Edwards, a prominent minister and philosopher in the 1700s, preached of a god “capable of opening up a sense of wonder and expansion at being in the world.” He had a vision of himself in the wilderness where his soul felt “an inward sweet delight.”

Important figures on display include Black Hawk, the Native American Sauk leader known for being a warrior and hero as he fought against the murderous attacks on his tribes and Dred Scott, and his wife, Harriet Scott who fought against the treatment of enslaved people and filed the Freedom Suits.

“That was the connection for us,” Gurshtein said. “Since the exhibition looks at those historical figures, we wanted to connect it with the here and now and to think about how people are moved to do social justice work, sometimes because of their spiritual beliefs, sometimes because of their commitment to American ideals, and the practical outcome of that was that we invited four speakers who are doing interesting, important social justice work in our community,”

The speakers Gurshtein refers to gave speeches in the Social Justice in Our Community series. 

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About the Contributors
Loren Amelunke, Reporter
Loren Amelunke is a first-year reporter for The Sunflower. She is a sophomore at Wichita State, currently pursuing a psychology major. She loves to write poetry and hopes to publish a poetry book in the near future.
Lee Frank, Former photographer
Lee Frank was a photographer for The Sunflower.

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