The current group exhibit in the Meeting House Gallery at the Oakland Mills Interfaith Center, "Works from Our Member Congregations," demonstrates that making art helps foster a sense of community there.
Although the work itself is not religious, the displayed artwork amounts to saying that different people can hang out together on the same walls. Indeed, this art gallery is located in a central atrium and the member congregations meet in the rooms around it.
That's the indoor arrangement for this art show, but most of the artists are photographers who find their subject matter outdoors. Natural subjects obviously are photogenic and, depending on your frame of mind, can facilitate spiritual thoughts.
Several of the exhibiting artists like to call your attention to natural details. Barbara Siskind's photo "Floating Down the Pocomoke," for instance, calls your attention to a couple of yellow-and-brown leaves floating in still water. That artist's sensitivity to reflections in the water is also found in her "November - Rainy Day," which presents rain-induced ripples in dark water.
For more natural detail, consult Peter Barbenitz's black-and-white photo "Roots," which looks down at thick tree roots that have broken the surface and are snaking its way across the ground. The same artist's color photo "Ibis Lift-Off" has a single bird rising up from the water as the star attraction.
Also getting up close to a subject is Brigid Linsenmeyer, whose "Wishful Thinking" is a close-up of a single dandelion flower that has gone to seed.
Other photographers pull back and offer landscape views. Lewis Jones' "Deep Blue" presents a sky so filled with dark clouds that only a bit of blue pokes through; and pulling back really far for a panoramic view, Stuart Berlin's "Cliffs of Moher (Ireland)" emphasizes how those cliffs rise straight up from the sea.
Among the artists working in different mediums, nature still tends to be the prevailing subject. A watercolor by Ronee Rothman, "Hummingbirds," presents two of those little birds. The birds' fluttering wings are like splashes of green, pink, yellow and purple.
Another somewhat abstracted watercolor is Barbara Bednarzik's "Light in the Woods." It has a somewhat abstracted depiction of tree trunks at the top of the composition and then more fluid and overlapping zones of blue, brown and green at the bottom.
Among painters, an oil painting by Daniel Brown, "Painting the House," really makes that house blend into a densely wooded setting thanks to the house's green-painted wood siding, brown columns and adjacent stone wall.
There is no indication in the above painting as to where that house is located, but you know exactly where you are in Judy Estrin's acrylic painting "Tongue Row," which presents that curving street in Ellicott City via a subdued palette of brown, green and gray. This artist also has watercolors and paintings done in Oella and Annapolis.
A very different medium is deployed by Roslyn Zinner, whose exhibited mosaics include "Private Moment." It shows a girl in a bathing suit who has her back turned to us as she stands in a body of water. Mosaic tiles in a range of blue tones make for a convincing pool and the tiny tiles used for the girl's lime green bathing suit make her stand out within that watery setting.
The exhibit also includes pottery by two artists. Annette Morgan's bowls and platters generally are low to the ground and favor earthy shades of brown and green. Linda Pescarmona makes taller vases whose colors tend to be lighter greens and blues. They both complement a show in which the evocations of the natural world soothe your spirit.
"Works from Our Member Congregations" remain through April 2 in the Meeting House Gallery at the Oakland Mills Interfaith Center, 5885 Robert Oliver Place in Columbia. Call 410-730-4090 or go to www.themeetinghousegallery.org