Artist discusses inspiration behind new exhibit

[Images courtesy of]

By Kaylyn Foody

Swirling blues and grays cover the silks on display in The Regina A. Quick Center for The Arts. These photos, by Barbara Luisi, are a part of her collection called, “The Spiritual South.”

In this collection, Luisi explores hidden cave churches in southern Italy.

According to Luisi, the collection is not yet complete. Luisi said that she is still working on this collection in her address on Friday, September 15 in the Quick Center.

Luisi, who grew up in Germany, lives and works in Italy.

During Luisi’s address, the power on campus was out for quite a while that afternoon. The natural light from the windows in the building was enough to see by, but the gallery was too dark to see any of the photos. As Luisi said how she wished that guests could see the photos in the gallery, the power clicked back on.

In her address, Luisi said that she likes to capture the dark, mysterious places that she finds. She referenced other collections of hers, “Night over the Ocean,” and “Nudes in The Dark,” saying that she loves to explore the idea of darkness and mystery together.

“You can always find something to see, even in the pitch black,” Luisi said.

Luisi also talked to the crowd about her technique in taking these photos. In Luisi’s collection, very few photos are crisp and clear. According to Luisi, this was intentional.

By making most of the photos in the collection out of focus, Luisi said that she was able to capture the mystery of these caves.

“One of the only photos I made clear was the photo of a saint with no eyes,” Luisi said, gesturing over to where the photo was displayed on the wall.

Luisi elaborated on the history of the caves in her address.

“When the Arabs came to the city, they removed all the eyes from the saints to try to take away their power,” Luisi said.  “It was a very early form of vandalism.”

Another part of the caves that drew Luisi’s attention were the dolmen. Dolmen are a very early formation, similar to Stonehenge, of two rocks with a slab overtop of them. Luisi said that she was drawn to the mystery of them.

“Nobody knows what they were used for, if they were used as an altar or if they were for burying people. They are very unique,” Luisi, who lives part-time in Italy said, searching for the right words. “I guess is how you would say it in English.”

Luisi’s photos are on display in the Quick Center, which is open from 12:00 p.m. to 5:00 Monday through Friday and 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 Saturday and Sunday.

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