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‘Celebrating The Divine Feminine Spirit Through The Creation Of Intuitive Mixed-Media Collages’



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MADISON — Through May 4, Mercy By The Sea Retreat and Conference Center is presenting “Open The Door To Your Own Mystery: Celebrating The Divine Feminine Spirit Through The Creation Of Intuitive Mixed-Media Collages!”

The exhibition presents original mixed media art by Sherie Roberts, a longtime member of Newtown Congregational Church who has found healing and a feeling of peace at the Madison location. She has been visiting it for “30-plus years and counting,” Roberts said during a recent NCC Circle of Hope meeting. She spoke about her art and its inspiration during the hybrid gathering on March 12. Those in attendance were encouraged to view nearly two dozen examples of the colorful works before and after Roberts discussed her work and its inspiration.

Roberts earned a Master of Arts degree in Transformative Leadership & Spirituality at Hartford International University for Religion & Peace (formerly Hartford Seminary). A native of Baltimore, Md., before retirement in 2015, Sherie worked full-time for 40 years in the corporate world. She is also a certified interfaith spiritual director.

Mercy By The Sea, she said earlier this month, “is a sanctuary that inspires my spiritual growth and holds my grief.”

In her artist’s statement for “Open The Door To Your Own Mystery,” Roberts said her first public art exhibit at the retreat and conference center “is a meaningful way to celebrate the completion of some important spiritual healing work by sharing them with this MBTS community and honoring the memory of a loved one.”

Her statement also shares: “I attended a week-long directed retreat in December 2019 here to enter prayerfully into Advent. I brought a suitcase and a large ‘bag of grief.’ Several months prior I had lost my dear sister-in-law, Maryanne, to cancer after a two-year courageous battle. My spiritual director encouraged me to express my feelings by exploring the art room. I started with a blank canvas and by the end of the retreat I had an epiphany. I learned I could express my feelings intuitively by drawing, painting, and creating mixed media collages — according to how I felt rather than by following any prescribed techniques. I had found my creative flow!

“Having discovered a new spiritual practice that allows me to connect to the Divine Feminine Spirit has been like a ‘balm in Gilead’ for my soul. That Christmas, my husband gifted me a dedicated art workspace in our garage.

“What began for me in early 2020 as an enjoyable spiritual practice became my core coping mechanism for helping me get through the pandemic. I use art to express my feelings on a particular topic, current event, or relationship rather than a specific technique or subject matter. I consider myself to be a spiritual entrepreneur who endeavors to discover and share life within my community as a ‘human being,’ not just a ‘human doing.’

“My new vocation celebrates using my life energies to share my spiritual gifts with others and is called SherieSharing Expressive Art. I utilize a wide range of materials in my collages, including acrylic and watercolor paints, embellishments like clay faces and flowers, beads, cabochons, vintage costume jewelry, antique buttons, bits of fabric trims and scraps and recycled packaging from household products, parts of greeting cards, candy wrappers and stickers.

“Four years after my epiphany, I attended my next directed Advent Retreat at MBTS in December 2023.

“I was a Sunday School teacher at the Newtown Congregational Church when the tragedy struck Sandy Hook Elementary School.

“After 11 years of holding the grief from the Sandy Hook tragedy I was able to process a deeply buried part of it by finally being able to draw the outline for a mixed media collage that expresses what I felt and observed at the NCC sanctuary prayer service on the evening of 12/14/12,” she said.

During the NCC Circle of Hope meeting on March 12, Keith Roberts unveiled “On That Night” for the first time. Sherie Roberts had been planning to speak in person that morning, but sickness led to a change of plans and she participated from home via Zoom.

Before her husband lifted a veil to share the special work, Roberts told those at the church that she described her memories from the evening of 12/14 and how they led to the creation of the new work.

“It was during the Advent retreat in 2023 that I found I had unexpressed grief following December 14, 2012, especially following the special service at our church that night,” she shared.

“Our church community was coming together in our sanctuary, and our egos all fell away from everyone. All I saw was a collection of sad souls,” she said.

Upon her return from the December retreat, Roberts had the outline of the collage she wanted to create. When her husband lifted the cloth cover from the veil the morning of March 12, Roberts explained the representation of the neighborhood around the West Street church, its sanctuary, “and the collection of souls inside that night.”

The faces within the collage were purchased from an Etsy artisan, she said. The tiny masks represent those who were at the church that Friday night 11½ years ago, “the first and only time I was in a group gathered in my faith community where, upon entering the sanctuary, people lost their ‘masks’ and ‘personas,’ as they simply melted and fell away. We all became just a collection of souls within the deepness of shock and sorrow.”

In her artist’s statement for the current exhibition, Roberts said she feels the beauty of her late sister-in-law’s “loving kindness through the process of creating my art.”

During the NCC Circle of Hope meeting she announced that in honor of the memory of her sister-in-law, Maryanne Devine Sachs, all proceeds from the sales of her SherieSharing Art Expressions will be donated to Mercy By The Sea.

Those funds, she said, “will be for scholarships for retreats and programs for others who cannot afford it. It’s my way of continuing to memorialize my dear sister-in-law.”

“Open The Door To Your Own Mystery” is on view in the Mary C. Daley, RSM Art Gallery at Mercy By The Sea Retreat and Conference Center. The gallery exhibits established and emerging local and regional painters, sculptors, photographers and mixed media artists who express, through their art, a powerful connection to creation in all its forms. According to the gallery’s website, the artwork exhibited is chosen to engage conversation and support learning and spiritual growth.

The gallery is fully accessible and located just inside the main entrance to the Center, 167 Neck Road in Madison. Gallery hours are 9 am-4 pm Monday through Friday.

Readers are invited to an Artist Reception with Sherie Roberts scheduled for Sunday, April 14, from 3:30 to 5:30 pm.

For additional information call 203-245-0401 or visit mercybythesea.org.


Managing Editor Shannon Hicks can be reached at shannon@thebee.com.

Keith Roberts holds “On That Night,” a mixed media collage by Sherie Roberts created earlier this year after realizing she had unexpressed grief following 12/14. The collage was unveiled during a recent Newtown Congregational Church Circle of Hope meeting, and then delivered to Mercy By The Sea Retreat and Conference Center for inclusion in the first public exhibition of works by Sherie Roberts. —Bee Photos, Hicks
A selection of the nearly two dozen original works by Sherie Roberts displayed during the recent NCC Circle of Hope meeting. Similar works are now on view in Madison, part of the exhibition “Open The Door To Your Own Mystery: Celebrating The Divine Feminine Spirit Through The Creation Of Intuitive Mixed-Media Collages!”
Roberts has created mixed media collages with mirrors that serve as memorial pieces to her late mother-in-law, Jeane Roberts. This is one of two shared during the Circle of Hope meeting.
“The Long Night With Sarah” was done while Roberts was on a marathon phone call with someone battling COVID.
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