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Monday, 27 May 2013


Beachy Keen
'... Stoned to Death by Popcorn'
By Jackie Atkins
[Writers Clearinghouse News Service]
Cape May, New Jersey
 Nuns to the left of me.
 Nuns to the right
 Following after me
 Into the night
I was raised by nuns -- twelve years of education taught by them with a smattering of priests and religious in my last four. Though in my high school days, some tried to befriend me. I never took the invitations; they were not quite human. I had an external wall, a self-imposed barrier to nuns as people.
 Nuns were my teachers and, as every school kid knows, teachers are not real people. If you meet a teacher outside of a classroom, worlds collide.
Artist Carol King Hood though saw it differently as a child. Her parents use to invite her teachers to dinner. As a result she could see through the veils.
The end result for her is “Kumbayah” showing at SOMA NewArt Gallery until 9 June.
 “Kumbayah” (even though the names invokes the 1960s social upheaval via Vatican II embracing of blissful compromises), is a no-holds-barred narrative  (a rarity now of days in art shows) relating the day to day events after the Vatican Council of the Sisters of St Joseph in its summer retreat home, St Mary’s by the Sea ,in Cape May Point, New Jersey. 
 In  plein air style, Hood uses broad strokes and vivid colors in oil to depict outdoor scenes at the retreat. The light by the sea, no matter the time or for that matter the cloudiness of the day, plays with more intensity than in most other landscapes (the Rockies being an exception)  so this particular genre, though it lacks intricacy and definition, works well even with an etherial subject matter. She accomplishes seemingly perplexing observations by using simplicity in form and boldness in her colors. Even the black and white habits differ from sister to sister by the movement of her brush.
 And her subjects, friends to her they may be, are an other-worldly lot. Bishop Fulton J Sheen use to say; “Hearing nuns confessions is like being stoned to death with pop corn.” Well viewing nuns eating hoagies, lunching on cream cycles,  treasure hunting on a beach, and circling down in line formation from the convent’s wrap around  balconies for a thanksgiving prayer after a storm is like gazing at cumulus clouds from a bicycle.
 I think my juvenile understanding about women who live in semi-cloister situations was right on. These ladies are of this world, but not in it. Even as they shed their habits and wear beach attire,  as a group of them gathering around for a sing along on the beach, Hood captures their ethereal essence. As a youngster this quality scared me. The artist though was forced to observe more about this world as a girl including things that don’t meet the eye. Now as an adult she shows us this crux of our disassociated psyche in an assured way. 
 Nuns all around in me
 Taking full flight
 Show me my sacred path
 Tell me what’s right