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View a slide show of the installation of "A Visual Presence."

"A Visual Presence" was installed in Christ Church Hamilton/Wenham for the feast day of Pentecost (June 8, 2003). This liturgical work of art consists of over 60 colored silk banners suspended from the ceiling of Christ Church, stretching from the large stained glass "Resurrection Window" over the altar all the way to the back wall of the Nave (about 50 feet). Each banner ranges in size from 8’ to 12’ long and from 12" to 40" wide. The colors are taken from the stained glass windows of the church. The composition is designed to look as if the colors and shapes of the silk emanate from the window over the altar and flow back across the congregation to the "flame" windows on the rear wall. This installation will be up through June, 2003.

The feast of Pentecost celebrates the gift of God’s Spirit to the church which enables it to carry on the ministry of Jesus Christ in the world today. Sometimes called the "birthday" of the church, the historical Pentecost story tells of flames like fire over the disciples’ heads as they were filled with power and emboldened to speak in Jerusalem of the life of Jesus and the meaning of the recent events that they had just witnessed (crucifixion, resurrection, etc). The Feast of Pentecost begins the longest season in the Church’s liturgical calendar, lasting until Advent (4 weeks before Christmas) begins a new church year.

Christ Church of Hamilton/Wenham has a long tradition of participation in and encouragement of the various arts that enhance liturgy and worship—visual arts, music, performance, dance, etc. The Liturgical arts committee is a loosely organized group comprised of poets, writers, artists, musicians and people interested in utilizing these elements as part of corporate worship. The Committee, led by Christ Church Rector, the Rev. Jurgen Liias, invites and seeks out members of the parish and larger community willing to pursue ideas and helps them implement and incorporate these ideas to enrich the worship life of the Church.

Conception and design of "A Visual Presence" is by church member Ruth Susen Riley, a professional visual artist from Newburyport. The banners were sewn by ten church members: Pat Beckwith, Gwen Carr, Amy Deik, Fozzie Hill, Margery Kennelly, Rose Osborne, Ruth Riley, Huntley Skinner, Carol Tischner and Penny Wingate. Construction and installation work was done by Ruth Susen Riley and seminarian Bill Mackey with help from the Rev. Martha Giltinan, Tom and Huntley Skinner, George and Penny Wingate and Karen O’Keefe.

"Receive the Spirit", a Pentecost 2004 collaborative liturgical installation, 8'x 15'; dura-lar and coated mylar, colored film and black gesso

The artwork over the altar titled "Receive the Spirit" is a collaborative effort between artists Tanja Butler and Ruth Riley. Both are artists in the parish of Christ Church Episcopal who have experience with liturgical art installations and are members of the Liturgical Arts Cooperative at Christ Church.

Tanja, a Professor of Art at Gordon College, created the gestural figure drawings in various postures of worship. These were transferred from paper via overhead projector and painted with black gesso onto clear mylar sheets which allows the light to pass through and cast line shadows on the wall behind (taking its cue from the cross to the left). The colors behind the figures come from the Resurrection window above, signifying the presence of the risen Christ through the Holy Spirit in us and among us.

Click here to view this work in progress.