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Exhibit explores the hidden, revealed worlds

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STORY WRITTEN BY TARA LYNN JOHNSON  
For 21st Century Media

What is seen and unseen is explored in a photography and multi-media exhibit called “Rob the Soul.” It’s a one-person show featuring new work by photographer Pam McLean-Parker.
The solo show was an award from the annual Tri-States Artists Equity member exhibition. A juror selected her for the solo show based on her piece titled “Interior: Bath Abbey.” McLean-Parker was thrilled to be selected to exhibit at the Main Line Unitarian Church’s Fireside Gallery.
The exhibit features about 40 artworks, all created since last September, including images on paper as well as multi-media pieces on wood (all are photo-based).
“It’s been an amazing and exciting challenge,” she said of choosing the pieces to be showcased.
Many of the images were inspired by a trip she took to England last year. She photographed the Abbey Church of Saints Peter and Paul in Bath, Westminster Abbey in London, and Kensal Green Cemetery, among other locations. The cemetery is a “magnificent Victorian” one, she said, with life-sized angel statues and bucolic scenes.
“I’m drawn to sacred spaces,” she said of her inspiration. She also was inspired by writings by Meister Eckhart, a 13th century philosopher and theologian, and this passage by St. Augustine:
“I am aware of something in myself, like a light dancing before my soul, and if it could be brought out with perfect steadiness it would surely be life eternal. It hides and then again it shows. It comes like a thief, as if it would steal everything from the soul. But since it shows itself and draws attention, it must want to allure the soul and make the soul follow it, to rob the soul of self.”
“That passage just spoke to me, every single line,” she said.
Through her work, McLean-Parker, who lives in King of Prussia and who earned her bachelor’s degree in art at Rosemont College, explores the idea of what’s hidden and what’s revealed.
“My intention was to create images in these sacred spaces that showed both that which could be seen as well as the elusive but palpable sensation of that which could not be seen: the resonance of time and energy and spirit that permeates these places for me,” she wrote in her artist statement about the exhibit.

Interior Bath Abbey. Photo by Pam McLean-Parker

Interior Bath Abbey. Photo by Pam McLean-Parker

Transferring her photos onto wood is a contemplative, meditative, and soothing process for her. She likes working with her hands, the tactile feeling of revealing the images, leaving the essence of the ink of the image, sanding the wood to remove part of the ink.
It’s all part of her work as an artist, which isn’t a job. It’s just who she is.
“I have long chosen to celebrate the visual arts in and with my life. Perhaps I might say that the visual arts have chosen me,” she said. “I believe that artists make our world a better place.”
IF YOU GO
WHAT: “Rob the Soul,” an exhibit with new works by Pam McLean-Parker
WHEN: Now through Oct. 12.
WHERE: Main Line Unitarian Church’s Fireside Gallery, 816 S. Valley Forge Road, Devon.
HOURS: 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Mon.-Fri.; 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sun.Reception: 2 to 4 p.m. Sun., Sept. 14.
INFO.: Visit www.mluc.org for directions.

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