Gangi, Nicora - VM - Kathrine Page
Nicora Gangi: The Woman Clothed With The Sun
World of Wonders
by Kathrine Page
Beginning in the twelfth chapter of the book of Revelation and continuing through to its conclusion, the writer, John, recounts the first and second coming of Jesus Christ through signs – a way to draw the reader deeper into the theological message he wished to impart. Artists too have used symbolism throughout history to visualize their ideas or to draw the viewer to a deeper grasp of their intended concepts.Nicora Gangi’s pastel drawings are known for their interpretive displays of prolific symbolism.
Exact recognizance of the symbols is less important than to understand the experience and beliefs that are expressed through them. Some of her pastels embrace memories from childhood, others bear homage to liturgical experience and scriptural reference. Still others play tribute to pure observation. Viewers of Gangi’s work often note the fluency of her technique or they observe the powerful imagery as “at once provocative and delicate…at once incandescent and incantatory.” When one ponders Gangi’s art one sees the magnificent control of the medium taking on a luminous life of its own. But with further exploration one discovers an inner presence of intense temerity yet with a poetic conjugation of symbol and grace.
Finding inspiration from an etching by the French artist, Gustave Doré, the backdrop of Gangi’s pastel painting – deep ebony juxtaposed to brilliant yellows and ambers – sets the course for the signs John writes about in Revelation 12:1-2. The first sign: a female figure enveloped by solar rays thought to represent the exalted status of Israel. At her feet the whole host of heavenly angels dart about as they battle the great dragon, the second sign. Three books rest in the foreground. The seven seals ready to be broken drape over the cover of one book (Revelation 6-8). The scattering of letters symbolize the written Word of God, first breathed by the Spirit of God then scattered to the community. The three pieces of fruit symbolize the Trinity. The flute and music represent musical praise to God. The upside down spoon represents a tool used to hurt rather than serve. The two bird skulls represent the death of the two witnesses. The large bird of prey warns of impending disaster. The watch, an item closest to the viewer, is situated near the lower edge of the painting referring to life drawing to an end. It rests next to a cube of wax and a seal, recalling the seven seals streaming from the Word of God.
The entire tableau appears to be staged in a Wunderkammer (“wonder room”), the Renaissance tradition of a Curio Cabinet or Cabinet of Curiosities. Once heralded as the prototype of the museum, these cabinets displayed the objects of their owner’s collections and mementoes thus providing a visual narrative of the owner’s life. Here Gangi’s room of wonder offers a space where signs and wonders impart a powerful theological message of hope and redemption.
Nicora Gangi: The Woman Clothed With The Sun, 2009, pastel, 18 x 24 inches.
Nicora Gangi is a former adjunct professor of pastel painting at SyracuseUniversity. She maintains a studio in Syracuse, NY. Her work is currently represented by Spencer Hill Gallery in Corning, NY, MME Fine Art in New York, NY and Bella Vista Art, Asheville, North Carolina. www.nicoragangi.com
Kathrine Page is the owner and director of Spencer Hill Gallery in Corning, New York. She taught Art History at RobertsWesleyanUniversityin Rochester, NY, USA from 2002 – 2011. She has also taught Art History and lectured on Art History & Theology at Northeastern Seminary at Rochester, NY, USA. She is also a contributing writer for CIVA (Christians in the Visual Arts).
ArtWay Visual Meditation August 4, 2013