Villanova, PA – This fall, visitors to the Villanova Art Gallery will be treated to an indoor paradise, alive with vibrant jewel-tones, expressive brush strokes, and lush textures. The Gallery will present “Garden of Miracles: Finding the Divine in Everyday Life,” a collection of recent landscapes and still lifes by Philadelphia-area artist Monique Sarkessian. The exhibit opens Monday, October 17 and continues to November 28. A free public reception to meet the artist will take place on Friday, October 21, from 5 to 7 pm in the Art Gallery located in the Connelly Center on the Villanova campus. Refreshments will be served. Convenient on-campus parking is available.
“Garden of Miracles,” comprised of more than 40 paintings in oil and encaustic wax, will include paintings completed during and inspired by the artist’s recent professional trip to France; several pieces done en plein air at locations throughout the Delaware Valley; and some of her stunning still lifes, featuring glorious blooms and sumptuous fruits.
Visitors will immediately recognize Sarkessian as a colorist, whose work begins as a response to color, shape, and texture. People often comment that her work has a European feel. Assuming that her dynamic sunflower paintings were done abroad, viewers are often surprised to discover that they were painted in nearby Malvern; her graceful lavender fields were done in Doylestown and New Hope. She muses: “The European painters I love are very expressive, and I very much have an expressive nature in life and in my art.”
Regarding the title of her show, Sarkessian says “Garden of Miracles” reflects her love of nature, which is always the source of her painting. She adds, “The subtitle, ‘Finding the Divine in Everyday Life’ expresses my conviction that there’s a spiritual connection running throughout creation. My personal philosophy is that there is an order in the universe and a divine force—God—that is lavishly benevolent and creative. There’s so much tension, so much distraction, so much screen time in our lives today, and it can cloud our understanding of our true identities. When people walk through the exhibit, I want them to feel refreshed.”
Sarkessian laughs and calls her summertime trip to France her “Eat, Paint, Love” tour. Always an admirer and student of the great European post-impressionist painters—notably Van Gogh and Cezanne—Sarkessian knew she would find new inspiration in the places where those artists had lived and worked. She visited various areas in the south of France, then spent five days in Paris. “It was really good for me to go, and then return home and see beauty here in a new way,” says Sarkessian. Her France paintings are small—no larger than 12” x 16”—thanks to the logistical challenges that international travel poses to an artist. Several of those 20 paintings will be included in “Garden of Miracles,” as will other, larger pieces (3’ x 3’ and 4’ x 4’) that she has completed here at home, using her travel as inspiration.
Born and raised in the Philadelphia area, Monique Sarkessian earned her bachelor of fine arts degree in painting at Temple University's Tyler School of Art. In continuing studies she has studied 18th Century European furniture painting, art education, and traditional icon painting with a Russian master iconographer. She also keeps her professional skills constantly moving forward by taking workshops with internationally recognized painters Stanley Bielen, Dale O. Roberts, Martin Campos, Jeff Schaller, Jon Redmond, and Moe Brooker. Since 1984, Monique’s work has been shown and honored with awards at numerous exhibitions across the country including two museums.
Some of her recent awards include second place for painting out of 84 painters in the inaugural Plein Air Brandywine Valley Art Competition, 3rd place in Plein Air Brandywine Valley 2013, as well as awards by Artist's Equity, juried shows at Harcum College, Montgomery County Community College, Main Line Art Center and Chester Country Art Association. Sarkessian’s work can be explored on her website, www.moniquesarkessian.com.
The Villanova University Art Gallery is open weekdays from 9 a.m. -11 p.m. For extended and weekend hours, and other information, contact the Art Gallery at (610) 519-4612. More information is available on the Gallery's website: www.artgallery.villanova.edu.
About Villanova University
Since 1842, Villanova University’s Augustinian Catholic intellectual tradition has been the cornerstone of an academic community in which students learn to think critically, act compassionately and succeed while serving others. There are more than 10,000 undergraduate, graduate and law students in the University's six colleges – the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Villanova School of Business, the College of Engineering, the College of Nursing, the College of Professional Studies and the Villanova University School of Law. As students grow intellectually, Villanova prepares them to become ethical leaders who create positive change everywhere life takes them. For more, visit www.villanova.edu.