Michelle Loynes is a pilgrim.
Her ultimate destination, she may not be sure just yet, but she knows well enough what she's looking for: spiritual enlightenment. Her new show at the Yuma Art Center, “Seeker,” celebrates that search.
“I'm looking for ‘it,' whatever ‘it' is,” she said.
Loynes made some of the mixed media pieces on display, but much of the show is a collection of personal belongings that are essentially souvenirs from her visits with various belief systems and schools of thought. A conceptual artist, Loynes picked items that make up a cross-section of her life, along with paintings loaned by friends, local artists Lia Littlewood and Chris Tortorici.
That so many of these pieces came from her house gives the gallery a decidedly homey feeling. One of the centerpieces is a bed from her patio — which at her house is an outdoor living room — set up underneath an audiovisual presentation that will be projected onto the wall.
Loynes' spiritual identity was diverse from the start: Her mother was Catholic and her father atheist, but she was close to a Baptist cousin and went to church with her as a girl. Her three children and her husband are also Catholic.
This gallery is a melange of faiths and philosophies. There are Tibetan prayer flags strung across the ceiling, a candle and missal from her youngest's baptism, a four-foot-long rosary that belonged to her grandmother, a few gold-tinged Buddhas and an articulated wooden hand to represent the idea that people can transfer energy by pressing palms. Laced in its fingers is a feather, used at a Native American Church on the Navajo Nation.
There are portraits of Confucius and blue-skinned Hindu gods, and a framed pane from a vintage phone booth, fluttering around its edges with glued-down tracts. And there is a small library of texts: not just the Bible, but books from the Hare Krishnas and a guide to understanding the Quran. Under the nightstand by her bed are “Meditation for Dummies” and a textbook on abnormal psychology.
On another pedestal is a scrapbook that bulges with entries, from pictures of her kids to interesting leaves. A fat scrapbook is a happy scrapbook, Loynes said.
The show is highly interactive. Viewers are welcomed to sit on the bed, page through the books and flip up the tracts.
Loynes' eyes gleamed earnestly when she said she means no offense to her viewers. “I don't want people to think I'm making fun.”
But she does want to know what's on their minds. That's why she'll have a suggestion jar, with this note:
“Dear valued encourager: Thanks for sticking with me this far! I would love nothing more than to have input from you. I am open-hearted and minded and would love from you to know what I have missed or what I'm not knowing. My request is heartfelt and I hope your input sincere! Many blessings, me.”
When Loynes gets where she's going, she wants to feel elevated. She wants to feel abundant.
She wants her show to have that seeking feeling.
“Not sinking, but seeking,” she said.
Hillary Davis can be reached at email@example.com or 539-6857. Find her on Facebook at Facebook.com/YSHillaryDavis or on Twitter at @YSHillaryDavis.