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Spiritual journeys, part 2


Turns out a lot of folks are on spiritual journeys all the time, and if you happen upon their path at the right moment, you can catch a glimpse of what they’re mulling over.

So I happened to be in my synagogue, where you might expect some spirituality. In what passes for Society Hill Synagogue‘s art gallery (it’s a wide anteroom a little short on adequate lighting, but it has had several nice shows) I stopped in front of some swell mandalas with salutes to Judaism (Stars of David, Trees of Life, Hebrew letters) and peace (the Hamsa hand, shown below) by artist Burnell Yow!.

At only 10″ x 10″ framed (unframed maybe 7″ x 7″), the computer-printed mandalas, from Yow!’s “Spirituality” series, had a gem-like quality, all facets and color and complex backgrounds to get lost in.


I asked Yow! about how he made them, and he said the backgrounds were patterns from leaves and other natural materials that he scanned in and then played with.

He also had other leaf-based prints in the little show. As far as I’m concerned, nature’s infinite variety is one of the few things that elicit spiritual feelings in me, so I was delighted by the info.

(By the way, if you’re wondering about the concept of Jewish mandalas and meditation, there apparently are such things.)


Yow! also had some “Altar Boxes,” salutes to people who influenced him, each including a little mirror so the viewer becomes part of the piece. He also had a couple of swell, almost austere portraits including one of his wife Betsy (shown, “Betsy in Hat”), along with other digital prints. One of them, “DA-7,” (below right) looked like a fabric collage, with great texture and color.

A Yow! is a Yow! is a Yow!


I couldn’t resist asking Yow! about his name. Turns out, his real name is Yow–without the exclamation point–a venerable Anglo-Saxon name meaning something like bend in the river. But then he found that yow was in the dictionary as an exclamation of pain. So he employed his artist’s prerogative and added the exclamation point to his name. Yow!