July – August 2021
Artist: Kelly Kruse
Geheimnis is a collection of fifteen paintings that are the result of Kelly’s meditation on the book of Ecclesiastes. Broken into three sections, the work broadly explores themes of mystery, mortality, and glory.
Art-making, by nature, presses into the bittersweet sensation of having one foot in a tangible world that passes while having another in the world of unseen, everlasting joy. In early 2018, as I finished work on an exhibition dealing with human suffering and the Passion of Jesus Christ, it became clear to me that I wanted to do an extended meditation on mortality and transience through the book of Ecclesiastes.
I could never have imagined then that I would open an exhibit of this work on March 8, 2020, just days before the COVID-19 pandemic would dramatically alter daily life in the United States. In the midst of this crisis, there has been a collective wail of loss and grief rising up around the world. We are not living in a time of conceptual instability and loss. No matter what our worldview, we do not need to be convinced that we stand on shaking ground, or that what we thought was secure was in fact just passing.
The voice of the Preacher in Ecclesiastes echoes our fears. We will not find hope by burying our heads in the sand, or by clinging to the things that pass away. If the earth is shaking, we need to find something steady to cling to. Through this work, I offer an extended meditation on these ideas, which have resonated in all seasons of history and in any kind of grief or loss.
My prayer is that this work will be encouraging to you as you navigate life’s uncertain waters. The world may be passing, but the hope that God offers is an unshakeable one. And while the world passes away, there is a God who promises us an eternal dwelling place in himself, who is from everlasting to everlasting.
About the Artist
Kelly Kruse (b. 1985, Iowa) uses her work to explore the painful, beautiful experience of human transience, longing, and suffering. She developed a visual devotional practice as a response to her battle with depression, through which she wrestles with beauty, history, and theology. Kruse describes her work as contemporary illumination. Like the medieval monks who perfected the art of illuminated manuscripts, she seeks to awake in the viewer a sense of spiritual contemplation. Her first exposure to the idea of illumination came when she studied Medieval and Renaissance music in Italy. Her background in classical music and opera puts her in a unique position to explore the intersections between scripture, poetry, musical works, and the visual arts.
She has exhibited her work at galleries and institutions across the country and her work is featured in collections around the world.
In addition to her painting practice, Kelly is an active classical musician and maintains a private studio as a member of the National Association of Teachers of Singing.