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"Finding my Religion" by Loretta Lynn: Exhibition Recap

Loretta Lynn's expressive fiber artworks are on view from February 1-29, 2024 in the Teer Gallery, located in the Georgine Clarke Building on Kentuck Art Center's campus.


Loretta Lynn is a self taught fiber artist creating non-traditional embroideries and wearable art. Her unique visual language integrates her Catholic upbringing with her current spiritual practices.


"In my work I explore the theme of integrating the Catholic rituals, iconography, and stories from my childhood with my current practice of connecting with the natural world in a way that aligns with paganism."


Born in New York, Loretta performed as a dancer, performance artist, and garage-punk guitarist throughout the 1980’s and 1990’s. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the State University of New York at New Paltz with a double major in Dance and Psychology and a minor in Philosophy. She received her Master’s Degree in Dance Movement Therapy from Pratt Institute. While at Pratt Institute, Loretta worked at an inpatient psychiatric facility in Brooklyn, New York, in one of the poorest neighborhoods in the United States. Loretta saw firsthand how healing the arts could be, especially to those who are historically the most marginalized people in society. Healing continues to be a predominant theme in Loretta's work, whether it is her fiber art or her work as a dance therapist in special education.



Loretta's lifelong journey with religion and spirituality began at a young age--she was raised in an Italian Roman Catholic household and went to Catholic schools for ten years.


"My [Catholic school] experience was rough. It was very fire and brimstone. I was, as you can imagine, kind of the weird kid. So I got picked on a lot and bullied a lot. But initially, I was a like a little religious zealot in some ways. I wanted something to believe in and to hold onto." As life continued and times got tough for Loretta, she turned to her faith and the churchthe people who she thought would help her and love her through her struggles. Loretta's experience was the exact opposite, and that loss was devastating to her at the time. Today, she says, "That's all part of who I am. You know, I'm grateful now for the scars that I have." For a long time, Loretta says she renounced religion and ran from spirituality. It wasn't until she moved to New Paltz, New York when she started realizing that there were different paths to spirituality that didn't hold the same harm that her Catholic upbringing did. When she became a mother, she again craved the connection to something universal. She found her peace in nature.


"...after becoming a mother I found myself again craving connection to something universal. Over the past few years I have discovered that the divine is here, everywhere, right now. The natural world sings with spontaneity and life lessons. I spend time in nature and I observe."


As for the fiber art, Loretta started that a little later in life. Loretta learned how to knit from an unlikely source: a 4-year-old at a karate dojo. The knitting helped keep her present and focused, and she soon expanded her fiber practice to include drawing with embroidery floss and incorporating eco-dyed fabrics. Loretta's expanded artistic practice is encouraged by her friend and mentor, Aaron Sanders Head.


"Try to take the gifts from the universe that are there for all of us if we just open our eyes and look at them."


Loretta has shown work at the Tuscaloosa's annual 8x8" shows, various group shows at Kentuck Art Center, Aaron Sanders Head Studio, the Jessie Lavon and Friends Folk Art Gatherings, Magnolia Grove, and at the Pratt Manhattan Gallery in the Puck Building (NYC). She co-curated the April 2023 Wellness Walls for Art show at University Medical Center.  Loretta lives in Tuscaloosa with her husband, Christopher, and their triplet sons Jagger, Bailey, and Lux, and 4 dogs.


" This exploration has allowed me to resynthesize the parts of the Catholic tradition that I find resonant, archetypal, or poignant, deepening my connection to and joy in the natural world through the act of stitching together the seemingly disparate elements of religious iconography and botanical symbolism."


The Teer Gallery is open by appointment only. Please contact Kentuck's Gallery Shop at 205-758-1257 or email Molly Nelko at mnelko@kentuck.org.

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5 Comments


It was quite fiery and brittle. As you may guess, I was somewhat of dordle the strange kid. I was thus often teased and harassed. However, at first, I was kind of a religious fanatic. I needed something to cling to and have faith in.

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Through my practice, this inquiry has helped me to better connect with and enjoy the natural world by recapitulating aspects of the Catholic tradition that I find profound, archetypal, or resonant. dynamic combining of botanical and religious symbolism's ostensibly unrelated components. Happy Wheels

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