“Abundance” by Marla Faith Opens in Laskey Gallery
By Caroline Adams
“The young girl in this painting, here, is probably in college now,” Marla Faith explained to me as we walked through her newly hung exhibit. “She was 7 years old when I painted her- sitting in her mother’s lap in my neighbor’s garden. That was back before the Nashville flood.” My eyes rested on the young girl’s face—her innocent features and light smile. “I wonder what she looks like now,” I pondered aloud. “I wonder that, too!” Marla agreed and we lingered on the mother-daughter pair for a moment longer before moving to her next paining.
All of Marla Faith’s work in her exhibit “Abundance” tells a story like that, and, even after being completely submerged in water during the flood of 2010, the paintings miraculously live on unscathed and continue to speak. Each nearly life-size painting is of Nashville women–friends, family, community members—some who are still in Marla’s life, some who have moved from this town, some who have passed away, and some faces that even I recognized.
Thandiwe Shirpah, a local artist and poet who has been featured in Scarritt-Bennett’s Laskey Gallery and Poet’s Corner in the past, is the subject of the first painting you encounter in Faith’s exhibit. She is kneeling in her Nashville garden with an armful of collard greens, freshly pulled from the ground. “It was difficult to paint her,” remembers Faith, “because she was swaying and reciting her poetry the whole time, like a peace offering to God.”
Peace is the connecting power throughout the entire exhibit, the joining force between each woman depicted. Ranging from age five to ninety-five, and representing many different cultures and ethnicities, these women and the fruit they each hold represent the peace that radiates from the loving union of womanhood and nature. Together, the paintings create a community of beauty and hospitality that reaches out and draws you close.
These are the women of our community–the community of Nashville and the community of Scarritt-Bennett Center. It is impossible to walk through “Abundance” and not recognize the beauty of female empowerment and the peace-giving power of community. What a gift to have these women line the walls of Scarritt-Bennett Center this season.
“Abundance” by Marla Faith is free to the public and is located on the second floor of Laskey Building on the Scarritt-Bennett Campus through December 18th.
Caroline Adams is an Assistant Director of Education, Programming and Connections at Scarritt Bennett Center. She works primarily with Spiritual Formation programming which includes programs such as Tuesdays in the Chapel, Vespers and All That Jazz, Poet’s Corner, and the Laskey Gallery. She holds a Masters of Divinity and a Certificate in Religion and the Arts in Contemporary Culture from Vanderbilt Divinity School.