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Sherri Richards, Published February 14 2013

Reflecting on ritual: A Woman’s Perspective looks at ritual in daily life


What: A Woman’s Perspective on Ritual literary and performing art event

When: 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday, with a program at 2 p.m.

Where: Historical and Cultural Society of Clay County at the Hjemkomst Center, Moorhead.

Info: Exhibit runs through March 30. Related works on display at Nichole’s Fine Pastry and Rourke Art Gallery.

Online: http://awp.handworks.org

MOORHEAD – Nancy Leier broke out of her art-making ritual when she created the tea set now on display in the multimedia art exhibition “A Woman’s Perspective on Ritual.”

When Leier, an art teacher at Davies High School in Fargo, had worked in clay, it was to make sculptural pieces for teaching or demonstration. The five-piece tea set was her first attempt at making something utilitarian. Plus, she made it on the wheel, a new skill she’s been practicing.

“Making stuff on the wheel is a ritual. It’s very involving. I don’t know where the time goes,” she says.

The idea of ritual is clearly reflected in “Tea Gathering,” the stoneware teapot and teacups: the boiling of water, steeping of leaves, the pouring and serving. This summer, Leier will invite her lake neighbor over Sunday mornings for tea, a ritualistic gathering.

“The things you take for granted … when you step back and look, there’s a lot of ritual in our lives,” Leier says.

Ritual had been on the to-do list for A Woman’s Perspective for some time, says organizer Vicky Jo Bogart. The exhibit, featuring 50 emerging and experienced regional artists, is on display now at the Historical and Cultural Society of Clay County at the Hjemkomst Center, Moorhead. A public reception will be held Sunday.

While ritual is often associated with religion, few pieces make that connection. Most point out the ritual in our daily lives: a nightly bubble bath, preparing a recipe, planning a garden, playing pinochle.

Catherine Mulligan’s mixed-media painting featuring black crows on an orange and red background addresses how “A Woman’s Perspective” is a ritual for her. The painting’s accompanying label reads “A bunch of old crows hanging out in a woman’s perspective.”

“A Woman’s Perspective has really become a ritual for a lot of artists. If they don’t do it, they feel a void in their lives,” Bogart says.

Tracy Melendez, of Fargo, says she wanted to pick a piece that revolved around her home life and family. She thought about rituals with her 2½-year-old daughter, such as reading a book at bedtime.

Her acrylic painting “Snowy Walk” depicts her daughter’s ritual of being the first person to walk on freshly fallen snow.

“Her laughter and excitement from making a multitude of tiny footprints in the snow would make anyone smile,” Melendez writes on the painting’s label. “It is the simple things in life that can make a ritual, like walking in fresh snow, a ritual worth preserving.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Sherri Richards at (701) 241-5556.