Just a Closer Walk with Thee

SACRED | Journey

Gallery 276

Walking has been associated with spiritual journeys since antiquity. From pilgrims visiting sacred sites to wayfarers seeking a divine path to those who walk as a meditative practice or an instrument for prayer, walking as a form of spiritual discovery or redemption recurs regularly in literature, music, and the visual arts. Movement in the body, many believe, kindles movement in the mind. Walking a labyrinth, for example, is an ancient technique for prayer and meditation. The ritual of pilgrimage enables people to leave their ordinary lives behind while transporting themselves not only to a different physical space but also to a different state of awareness. Walking is also a common metaphor among diverse belief systems for seeking a spiritual or religious goal.

The works of art on display in SACRED | Journey explore the concept of walking as a sacred or spiritual activity. Such diverse objects as a 15th-century bronze “Walking Buddha” from Thailand and a 19th-century Persian Qur’an provide historic counterpoints to the large-scale contemporary work of Chicago-based artist Stan Shellabarger and British land artist Richard Long. Conceptual to representational, metaphorical to tangible, these diverse interpretations of walking as spiritual action reflect beliefs and traditions associated with Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, and secular and nature-based spiritualism.

— Dennis Michael Jon, associate curator of Prints and Drawings with Sheila McGuire, head of School and Teacher Programs