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  • Writer's pictureJennifer Gillia Cutshall

Your Magnificence Shows!

A Generous Kingdom VIII artists share their ideas about abundance, the generosity of expression, shifting perspectives, coming full circle, and savoring the fleeting...

"If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world."

C. S. Lewis

Shared by John Calabrese

John Calabrese

This Island Earth by John Calabrese

"Aim at the heavens and you get Earth thrown in; aim at Earth and you get neither."

C. S. Lewis

Shared by John Calabrese

Christina Bertsos

“We come forth out of nature, through nature we exist but through its mystery, we thrive and expand.  My art, using nature itself, allows me to explore this deep connection. It is this vast and generous wellspring of life that feeds my creativity.”

Christina Bertsos

Artist Christina Bertsos (reflections and at work)

Night by Christina Bertsos

Chas Martin

"We pause waist-deep in a stream of information to contemplate current events. We experience each for only an instant. Then it’s gone. A rising tide does not pause or ponder. The flow increases daily until it becomes a flood. Today, waist-deep. Tomorrow, over our heads. Savor the moment. It will never come again." 

Chas Martin

Leona Gamble

"I paint to bring a lantern temporarily to the darkest of spaces.

Years ago, I was meditating, and I asked myself; where do I collect the muse for my paintings from?  I came upon, in my mind's eye, this large underground body of water, bottomless and boundary-less, the dark still waters stretching as far as I could see.  I leaned over the edge to look into the depths and saw a massive serpentine shape swimming languidly, its pale skin catching the light when it came nearer to the surface.  I never saw its face or tail, just the main part of its body moving and disappearing in that vast dark space.  Its movements stirred the water just enough that two droplets of water landed on my right forearm. 

I left that place, carefully balancing these water droplets on my skin, up into the light, to further interpret them in the light of day. 

I have often thought back to that, and I realize I am drawn to the exploration of the unknown, of the unsaid, of the unspoken, or unrealized, and those hints of our shadows moving separately from ourselves from the corner of the eye.   Most of our human experience is lived and experienced under the sun, in our waking worlds. I don't wish to permanently illuminate these dark spaces and change their terrain, but to understand them, and then leave them respectfully as they wished to be, in the soothing darkness again.  I then move on to other parts of those subterranean caves, my lantern casting shadows as I explore and paint some more."

Leona Gamble 

Iconoclaste by Leona Gamble

Leonard Greco 

"An artist is a creature driven by demons. He doesn’t know why they choose him and he’s usually too busy to wonder why. He is completely amoral in that he will rob, borrow, beg, or steal from anybody and everybody to get the work done."

William Faulkner

Above quote shared by Leonard Greco 

Leonard also shares a message from a dream...

In a dream in which God spoke to me telling me “your insignificance is magnificent “; I try to live by that.

Self Portrait of the Artist as St.Anthony of the Desert by Leonard Greco

Donna Stevens

"Nature is most generous. The plant kingdom provides oxygen, food, and shelter for the animal kingdom. Trees spread their limbs to hold nests for birds and squirrels and support mosses, spiders, and insects. Their leaves provide shade and feed caterpillars, which in turn feed birds. Their seeds, fruits, nuts, and

acorns feed deer, black bears, wild turkeys, birds, critters, and humans. Fallen leaves protect and nourish the soil below.

I am fascinated by the interesting appearances and gestures of the trees, and I try to capture these in my paintings in order to share them with others. I am also in awe of and curious about the interactions among trees within and between their diverse species."

Donna Stevens

Reach by Donna Stevens

Deborah Gavel

"I love the forms of vessels and if I had not been so drawn to paint, I may have become a potter. I have worked with mandalas (circles or wheels) for about 30 years. They are intrinsically feminine. Vessels are holding containers, womb- like. The circle is a place of focus in many cultural forms which continues to inspire my work: Native American medicine wheels and water vessels, Tibetan thangka paintings, as well as endless natural shapes. Of course, circles and spheres are apparent in nature-- cells, water droplets, seeds and from seeds, significantly, tree rings. So many lush fruits of the vine like blueberries and red wine grapes come to mind. The infinite repetition of the circle and the sphere is planetary on the macro and invisible to the naked eye on the micro level of our earthly existence.


A recent full lunar eclipse underlined the power of the circle in an exquisite way- a pink planet, much more spherical in the night sky than it usually appears. I find the form of a circle to be very centering, meditative, like making a pot on a potter's wheel or holding one’s hands around a cup of tea.

Detail from "Waterfall" by Deborah Gavel

It has been said by the writer Lewis Hyde that to make is to create a gift and that the greatest expression of creativity is to give something to the observer that might touch them in some way."Whatever we have been given is supposed to be given away again[,]...the gift must in some way move." In this way, the role of spirituality and creativity in my life are part of a daily practice: a gift, a meditation, a reflection, a twelve step program, and are in service to myself and in service to others. I came of age in an era of discontent. I grew up in an atmosphere of dysfunction and became a rebellious young person, disconnected from any sense of God.  I believe art saved me."

Deborah Gavel

Candace Pratt

"Northwest Coastal Bounty’ depicts the beauty of sustainable bonds between people and their environment. How rich we are when we meld and blend for the betterment of all."

Candace Pratt

Northwest Coastal Bounty by Candace Pratt

Vicki Gunter

"I enjoy luring the viewer in with beauty to enchant them into guardianship...

Inspired by its no-waste complexity, nature is my source and anchor, in wild places and at home in East Oakland.

My work in clay draws from the knowledge that everything…us, our food, home, clothes, tools, toys all come from the ‘clay’ of the earth. My hope is, we will seek solutions in nature-based knowledge to grow, gather, love & consume with justice for all. Leaving the smallest fingerprint."

Vicki Gunter     

Mother Nature - Canary & Elephant Series by Vicki Gunter

Lev L. Spiro

"Thin Places are what the ancient Celts named rare locales where the separation between our earthly world and another, spiritual world becomes hazy and indistinct. They're places where one feels touched by the otherworldly, a feeling not necessarily transmitted by our known senses. 

This series grew out of conversations with my father, a religious man despite his breaking a 16-generation chain of rabbis to become a psychiatrist. Before he passed in 2023, I'd confided in him that for me, deep feelings of spirituality never occurred in the practice of religious observance but rather in the embrace of the natural world - in these Thin Places, where time seems to slow, something resonates in me, and I experience an unexpected sense of connection to a world beyond my consciousness. 

Thin Places are elusive - they may only reveal themselves when the light dances with them to a very specific rhythm. They speak to us through vibration more than sight or sound. Where the veil between this world and the other becomes porous, these are Thin Places." 

Lev L. Spiro

The Stand by Lev L Spiro

Rachel Kraybill

'In the haunted house of life, art is the only stair that doesn't creak.'

Quote by Tom Robbins shared by Rachel Kraybill

"We commune in stillness. We find the Cosmos expanding within our internal chamber halls. We listen to our Ancestors there. We find. We commune in our most native tongues. Echoing out to you in search of our first story."

Rachel Kraybill

Nebula by Rachel Kraybill

David Cohen

"After a 25 year hiatus I began a journey that had no clear destination or pathway. I just wanted to draw again and I would trust that the path would emerge. After 14 years my voice is becoming clearer, I am able to share who I am with the world through visual imagery that feels fully like my own. But it was just this last year when I realized that something important to me was still missing - that I wanted to be more of a storyteller and provoke the viewer to examine things within themselves that they maybe had never seen before. How do I do that with two dimensional imagery and be true to who I am as well. The series started with a phrase that stuck in my head - the wisdom of trees. We are always looking for teachers but do we look in the right places? What do the trees have to teach us and what images can they share without words. There is mystery here and the need for the viewer to complete these for themselves. It is all this that made me respond to your call - searching the unknown and telling a story that hopefully ends up asking more questions than providing answers."

David Cohen

From The Wisdom of Trees by David Cohen

Ellen Zimmerman

"I create scenes that come from my imagination or from serendipity, but typically start in nature. So, it’s no wonder that I fell in love with these snippets from Patti Callahan’s novel Once Upon a Wardrobe:

'We rearrange elements that God has provided...'


'The cosmos reveals God’s handiwork.'

Here, in my piece, "Snow moon" I made the image of the full moon on a brutally cold night in February. I composited it with the arms of a winter-barren tree battered by blustery wind. The combination, for me, is magic, and yes, a rearrangement of reality that we can feel, as though the cold is lashing out directly at us. It makes us want to, metaphorically, wrap a woolen scarf more tightly around our neck."

Ellen Zimmerman

Snow Moon by Ellen Zimmerman

Karlyn Berg

"I live in the woods of Northern Minnesota where the connection between,

humans, animals, and wilderness is important to me and essential to the spirit of

my visual art. Collage is an associative, nonlinear mode of creating. It can tell a story by incorporating shapes, symbolism, and images without being bound by

the need to make a realistic illustration. I approach the collage medium as a

painting not as an assembly of images. The painterly quality of my work is

dissimilar from the common notions about collage work. I use hand-cut pieces,

paper, transfer images, rubbings, airbrush, gouache, gold leaf, pastel, and


The series Nature Re-envisioned and Reality Transformed was inspired by

literary magic realism and nature. Each painting addressed a related magical

motif. Next, I ventured to intensify the Nature series by creating 8 panels that

connect like an enormous Triptych, or Multi-tych, forming a 16-foot mythical

landscape painting. I named this collection Unconventional Journey because as

each panel came to life this endeavor advanced my journey to create a

metaphorical landscape. The painting in this exhibit is “Unconventional Journey

One”, is part of that mythical wilderness landscape."

Karlyn Berg

Unconventional Journey I by Karlyn Berg

Melissa Gamez

"Like most people, I’m drawn to stories that I feel a personal connection to. Sometimes those stories are fantastical and dream-inspiring and other times they are hard truths that induce nightmares. Unfortunately, this story is of the latter type and one that affects all women in the United States today. With the Dobbs decision and overturning of Roe vs Wade, we have returned to the familiar story of women only being valued for their ability to keep quiet, look pretty, and do as they are told, with no control over basic decisions about the health care of their own bodies. Like the woman in this photograph, whose destiny was controlled by the men in her life, I am furious and devastated that women today are increasingly having their reproductive rights controlled by governments and misguided legislation overwhelmingly created by men who have no medical training or expertise."

Melissa Gamez

No such thing as too much practice by Melissa Gamez

Beth Kerschen

"In this series of new work, I call “Urban Dreams” is about depicting the emotional remnants or impressions of urban life. It's not any specific location, it’s the space in-between where residual human emotion and energy reside. Where a liminal state of being lies…the feelings, the frequencies between the form and function of urban structures. I have this inexplicable deep love and nostalgia for objects of the past but also of more current things that are created by hand…from lettering, graffiti, murals, to DIY objects and structures. Anything that stands out in this world of commercialism, machine manufactured, mass produced sameness, and artificial intelligence derivatives catches my eye. I revel in the handmade marks and the enduring vintage objects that interrupt the commercial monotony and remind us of our humanity and individual creativity.  

I recently learned about this term: Hiraeth – (n.) a homesickness for a home to which you cannot return, a home which maybe never was; the nostalgia, the yearning, the grief for the lost places of your past. Finally, I found a word that describes how I am feeling when I am out photographing or creating my scenic art. It does feel like I am trying to find something I am missing…I don’t know what exactly…maybe it is something I loved from the past where only a vague memory or feeling remains. Or maybe, going even deeper, it's a sense of safety or sense of peace…a place that is truly home that feels more welcoming and safe than any home I have known. Maybe…I have a longing that underneath the crazy, busy, bustling facade of urban life, and distracting media, there is pure human creativity, true joy, safety, and peace…somewhere…a place I can finally let my guard down and truly rest, just create…to not be protective, vigilant, and worried about anything anymore…a space, a place…where it feels safe to surrender. It’s got to be out there, around here…somewhere. If I search hard enough, look in the in-between spaces, follow the residual energy, notice patterns of light, maybe look inside myself, I can find this Home of Homes…home of inner peace. I hope this place is not lost, maybe I can find it even if it is only temporarily through creating art, piece by piece."

Beth Kerschen

Discussing the Good and the Beautiful by Beth Kerschen

Ruoxi Hua

"I always believe in the power of mythology. I am convinced that storytelling is one of our most fundamental artistic impulses. “Mythology used to be a way for people to justify their own living,” remarked Nietzsche in The Birth of Tragedy. The narrative power of myths and allegories could be more relevant now than ever, when scientific progress has encroached upon the narrative conventions and yet failed to provide any metaphysical guidance itself. To me, A Generous Kingdom VIII offers a great opportunity, for both my work and many others’, to discuss the possibility of revisiting and reinventing the tradition of narration in the age dominated by science and technology."

Ruoxi Hua

Metropolis by Ruoxi Hua

Bob Conge

"FOR ME purely abstract and non-objective art are mere symptoms of the failure of our society to deal with the meaninglessness of a life that worships progress above all and an art that has become entertainment. I refuse to disengage from the vast history that precedes this insanity. The struggle with a readable image is paramount in my work.

The creation of my work is a spiritual ritual that requires a dialog with the subject, materials and myself that is often conducted by the grace of some unwritten poetry. It sometimes seems like the channeling of all the history of art that came before me to the work at hand. When all goes well it feels like I am simply the vehicle through which the magic flows. No need for control or decisions. 

In this work I see Van Gogh as the image of Christ on the cross as inspired by his singular devotion to the beauty of life. The yellow of his body is an echo of his favorite color and the painting “The Yellow Christ”  by his friend Paul Gauguin.

I am the narrator of visual expressions and my work is my only voice in this wilderness of noise."

Bob Conge

Detail from "A Van Gogh Night" by Bob Conge

Linda Laino

"In all of my work, I gravitate to painting the groundedness of the logical world paired with the dream-like experience of the seemingly illogical world; the connections that occur daily between thought, word, memory, dream and reality. For this reason, I keep one foot in the known world and one foot in abstraction. My visual language draws from many sources, but particularly from nature and biology. 

I approach art-making as an investigation. My paintings are not planned and never attempt to tell a story, but the narratives evolve as a by-product of my subject matter and process. My themes are rooted in our human connection to nature: physically, emotionally and metaphorically. There is a dialogue that occurs from an ambiguous image. I’m enamored by the idea that as humans we are nature, and so our encounter and fascination with it is a matter of like meeting like."

Linda Laino

Swallow by Linda Laino

John Diephouse

"I am by nature an observer of the natural and social/human-influenced environment around me. I express myself by creating images that evoke a story of some kind that often moves beyond literal depictions to more abstract, symbolic, or lyrical interpretations.


I draw from a wide range of my photographic subjects such as landscapes, botanicals, and wildlife as well as urban environments and people.  I follow an intuitive yet somewhat ordered process of layering or merging portions of photos until an image that speaks to me emerges. This is more often serendipitous than deliberate intent.


Images often suggest a sense of time and place, or reflect a rich and ethereal interplay of color, shape or form.  Images may provoke an indefinable question that does not readily yield answers without further study and reflection. Ultimately, my images provide a vehicle to stimulate both my imagination and that of the viewer, leaving one free to interpret and create an individual sense of meaning and value."

John Diephouse

Inside Looking out by John Diephouse

Earl Grenville Killeen

"When I set out to paint “Teresa’s Wind Chime” in 2020, I did not know where the image in my mind came from. Anyone viewing it (including me) might wonder if it has a story behind it.

Now, as I undertake to respond to this blog prompt, I notice the crude roughness of the twigs in juxtaposition to the vivacious curves of the maple seeds, in a make-shift but gently- clinging union, held together by small pieces of clear tape. In the stillness, their silent chime is like a choir whose blended voices have a rhythmic beauty and resonance that no single voice could produce. Looking at the image as a whole, I see that its disparate pieces are all part of the same tree, carefully (re)attached to (hopefully) find a better balance, an equilibrium. The limb appears dormant – but dangling the possibilities of a new season . . . of propagation, of elements joining in a novel way, to create a new life.

From year to year, my art has been recording the story of my efforts to mend and heal and balance myself. I’m painting it – but I’m not really “getting it” until after the image is completed. Sometimes, not until years after.

Earl Grenville Killeen

Teresa's Wind Chime by Earl Grenville Killeen

Fabienne Sowa-Dobkowski

"My art explores the profound connection between humanity and the natural world, with the rose clover serving as a perfect embodiment of this theme. The elongated form of the rose clover, set against a black oval backdrop inspired by early portrait photography, resonates with me as a metaphor for the teenage years—full of potential and growth, yet still finding its way. Through this composition, where nature is elevated to the level of humanity, I invite viewers to reflect on the profound bond that binds us to the natural world, a world where even the simplest elements tell meaningful stories. In my artistic exploration, I continually revisit this theme, inviting each viewer to interpret and connect with it in their own unique way."

Fabienne Sowa-Dobkowski

Portrait of a Wildflower by Fabienne Sowa -Dobkowski

Jeanette Staley

For over 30 years, I return again and again to Dante's Divine Comedy for inspiration, understanding and paradoxically reassurance: Nature and Art, the grandchild to God. 

“Philosophy, my master answered me,

To him who understands it, demonstrates

How nature takes her course, not only from

Wisdom divine, but from its art as well,

And if you read with care your book of physics,

After the first few pages, you will find

That art, as best it can, doth follow nature,

As pupil follows master; industry

Or art is, so to speak, grandchild to God.

From these two sources (if you call to mind

That passage in the Book of Genesis)

Mankind must take its sustenance and progress.

The moneylender takes another course,

Despising nature and her follower,

Because he sets his hope for gain elsewhere.


Inferno, Canto 11

Shared by Jeanette Staley

19th Amendment by Jeanette Staley

Julian Jollon

"I didn’t choose Abstract Symbolist Photography, it chose me. I had been a second gen Ansel clone. Twenty years ago, a three-person gallery show in Hilton Head Island (Ansel Adams, Ed Weston, Me) was cancelled. The curator had pregnancy health issues and stopped working. I put away my cameras, dismantled my darkroom and gave up my anguished art pursuits.

Five years ago, I received a Liver Transplant (a new organ from a loving thoughtful teen). Things changed. Less than 12 hours in ICU. Next day, I asked my nurse for my laptop and ordered a boatload of SONY equipment.

Suddenly I had an urge to return to photography. Spirit influences from my donor. Fast forward, I am in PNW, my camera flashes off inside my car and while walking along the dirt road. I did not touch any buttons. But it makes abstract images. I take some images of rock cliffs, and days into post-processing objects are added. I didn’t add them. Is that you Makyla my beautiful donor, teaming up, expressing yourself within me and in our creations??"

Julian Jollon

“A Vision of Hope, for the Future, for the Earth, for the Children …

They will come to a fork in the road. One road will lead to Materialism, and Destruction … for almost all living creatures

The other road will lead to a Spiritual Way upon which the Native People will be standing

This path will lead to the lighting of the 8th Fire, a period of eternal peace, harmony and a New Earth where the destruction of the past will be healed”

ANISHNABE PROPHECY shared by Julian Jollon

In the Depths of Time by Julian Jollon

Christa Nye

"One of the things I love most about painting is the experience of the unexpected, the surprises that a dab of paint, a texture, a color can create. I like all of the layers and a bit of mess. The process lets me be compulsive and in the moment as the story begins to tell itself. With a life time already behind me and the realizations of age, painting moves me forward. As I work through my many layers, I get a sense of excitement and anticipation of what might still lie ahead."

Christa Nye

Vandals' Voodoo by Christa Nye

“Still round the corner there may wait

A new road or a secret gate

And though I oft have passed them by

A day will come at last when I

Shall take the hidden paths that run

West of the Moon, East of the Sun.”

JRR Tolkein

Quote shared by Christa Nye

Enzina Marrari

"To me, art is visual storytelling - it is a language we can use when words fall short. I was deeply drawn to A Generous Kingdom 8: Art that explores symbolism, story, and beyond, because I felt the theme represented that root of my creative practice. As an artist and visual storyteller, I work to tell stories that are often shrouded in shame, fear, or guilt. I often rely on symbolism and metaphor to communicate the hard stuff. I hope to express vulnerabilities in a way that creates connection and shows that what we think we experience individually or on our own, is often an experience or feeling that is shared. And, maybe, through sharing and exchanging those stories, we can begin to see lightness and feel more closely to one another. 

The weight, letting go is a piece with story and symbolism woven into its being. The concept of the work was developed by Jessie Embley and Ariel Graham - dancers and choreographers who I have worked with for more than a decade. It was performed by Amy Kofoid with Becky Kendall and Irene Rose-Castillo. The concept was about loss and grief, and how the heaviness can consume you. It is also a piece about how we must move through loss and grief, and, overtime, we begin to shed some of the heaviest layers. In the end, a weight will always remain with you - as it should. I believe that grief from loss is love in another shape or color. I conceptualized and designed the garment to represent the heaviness that loss and grief can take - this was represented by stones weighing and dragging down the sleeves of Amy's garment. These stones restricted Amy's movement, forcing her to drag the weight along with her causing her physical and emotional strain. As a viewer you can hear the stones dragging and clanking on the ground as Amy tries to move with them. The material of the garment is chiffon, a transparent lightweight fabric that contrasts the solid heavy stone. The garment is layered, neutral and grey tones whose colors symbolize the stages of grief. Because of the transparency, you can see layers upon layers - a visual representation of the many shades to our experiences.  As the dancers moved through their performance, Amy is accompanied by two companions who try to help her move through her grief and relieve her of this weight. Over time, she begins to shed the layers of weight literally and figuratively by removing layers of the garment and by beginning to move and dance more freely. Ultimately, she sheds the final layers, but reveals that a portion of the darkness of grief will always remain, fixed in place to her - like a new limb or permanent layer.

The piece was choreographed by Jessie Embley and Ariel Graham and was performed by Amy Kofoid with Bekcy Kendall and Irene Rose-Castillo. The choreography was created to compliment the structure and construction of the garment to represent the heaviness of grief and loss, and how we move through it over time, and with the help of those we love and who love us."   

Enzina Marrari

The Weight, Letting Go by Enzina Marrari

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