As Hotel Louisville has a dual purpose in providing shelter for citizens at risk of being homeless in our city and serving conventional hotel clientele, so does the Anderson Chapel located inside it, home of the Wayside Expressions Gallery. The walls of the chapel also serve as a gallery, meaning the art featured on them must be suitable for a worship. The gallery’s current featured artist is Louisvillian Sandra Charles, who answered that call with her handmade batiks.
Batik is an ancient process for creating designs on fabric through the selective application of wax and dye. Areas where the wax is applied resist the dye, allowing the artist to manipulate where the dye colors the fabric. Charles learned the process in high school but set it aside for a long period of concentration on motherhood and painting. In 1985, when her children were in middle school, she returned to the medium. Having recently celebrated her 60th birthday, Charles is now a senior at University of Louisville in the fine arts program with a concentration in painting. She hopes to find a way to formally marry painting and Batik techniques in her work.
Of the pieces on display at Hotel Louisville, it is easy to see the way she is already combining the disciplines of figurative painting and batik. “Jessica in August” and “Holding Mama” are example of this hybridization of techniques and disciplines. The show also features some more minimalist-inspired batiks, abstract batiks and some less conventional batik compositions like “Snow Again,” a triptych on a single panel. Often inspired by her friends and family, Charles sees her work as a devotional discipline and a way to express both her own experience and her love of The Divine.
She’s grateful to display her work in the Gallery at Hotel Louisville, in part due to the positive experience some of her family members and acquaintances have had with the organization. “Even when things are really dark, people are able to use faith to get back on their feet, and my family and friends that have been there leave inspired. They have hope again,” she says. Her feelings about the organization dovetail into her own philosophies about her work. “Art is a language of peace that connects us to the universe and each other,” she says in her artist statement.
While it seems unconventional to marry a commercial art venture and a sacred space, the marriage is unobtrusive. The compositions in the space serve as devotional aides, focusing the mind on what may inspire us to have the hope that is so instrumental in healing — our family, a peaceful landscape, the love of a parent or child. Works on display are for sale, and 25 percent of the proceeds return to the organization.
‘Batiks in Free Verse’ by Sandra Charles
Through Feb. 26
Wayside Expressions Gallery?
120 W. Broadway • 836-7661