Transcendent presents a selection of artists who explore or evoke themes of spirituality through their work. Challenging the unspoken taboo of representing the divine or faith in contemporary art, Transcendent aims to connect art and creative practice with the meditative or the sacred. Drawing from diverse traditions, the works in this exhibition reflect on questions of human nature, cultural identity, and sanctity in everyday life. Through a variety of approaches these artists seek a greater purpose in their work and a way to connect with the world. Featuring nationally and internationally recognized artists, Transcendent includes works by Anila Quayyum Agha, Leonardo Benzant, Maïmouna Guerresi, Shahzia Sikander, Sandy Sokoloff, Shelley Warren, and Zarina. 

 October 18, 2019 - February 8, 2020

Sandy Sokoloff (born 1944)  

Originally from Brooklyn, New York Sokoloff had a successful painting career for many years, including public and private commissions. He spent ten years teaching at Wellesley College and Boston University then withdrew from the Art world circa 1990 to isolate himself in his studio developing symmetrical, geometric compositions that embody the spiritual and the sacred. In 2014 he moved to Grand Isle, Vermont from Boston.

Before Sokoloff begins to paint, he may spend months devising a composition that correctly balances proportion and scale, creating a scaffolding for the liberating force of color and light that is at the heart of his work.

The modest symmetry of his paintings is based on ideas of sacred geometry shared across many different cultures and faiths. Using such geometry, artists or architects assign symbolic or spiritual meaning to certain geometric shapes and proportions. For Sokoloff, geometry is the universal truth beneath the continual flow and flux of color and light, and one with which he can evoke the essence of spirituality in his paintings.

The two paintings featured in Transcendent are part of Sokoloff’s latest series, Archangels. In the Hebrew bible, archangels are referred to as “sons of God” and “the holy ones,” serving as messengers and providing a link between humans and the divine. Archangels evolved from Sokoloff’s earlier 2015-19 Sephirot series. In mystical Judaism, the Kabballah describes Sephirot as the manifestations of God that allow Him to appear in both the metaphysical and physical universe. In some Kabbalah-based beliefs the four main archangels (Gabriel, Michael, Raphael and Uriel) are invoked as guarding the four directions, and their corresponding colors are associated with mystical properties. 

In Archangel Uriel, we are immediately drawn to the composition’s central sphere which appears to emanate a palpable light from within a dark void. Banded by yellow and red violet rings, this central sphere is flanked by two smaller, blue and purple spheres and arcs that appear to transcend our physical reality and open us to the infinite. Sokoloff invites the viewer to peer into the ineffable – a realm that is central to Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism alike.

Sokoloff’s Archangels conjures a creative life force that reveals the divine essence within each of us.

Heather Ferrell Curator and Director of Exhibitions


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