METUCHEN, NJ - Local South Orange Artist Sybil Archibald said she entwines spirituality into her artwork to create unique and thought-provoking pieces. Her artwork is being presented in the exhibit “EarthAirFireWater: Elements/Sacraments” at Nails in the Wall, a Metuchen exhibition space sponsored by St. Luke’s Episcopal Church. The opening exhibition was held on Sept. 19, and the exhibit will run through Dec. 31.
“Art has always been a living breathing force within me, a direct expression of spirit,” said Archibald. “I always made things from my earliest memories until now.”
Her work is heavily influenced by the early alchemists who believed that if you heal the external world, then you can internally heal yourself. She said that this is an idea that pervades all of her work.
Archibald said, “My artwork is the byproduct of my internal journey of healing. It is a map of where I have been and where I’m going.”
Archibald suffers from a rare autoimmune disease called scleroderma, which affects her ability to move. She credits the illness as a great spiritual teacher that smoothed her edges away. She said she is now more content with her life filled with love instead of the emotional pain from before. She also says that she has learned to accept the limits and physical pain from scleroderma. She added that she has had to stop working with clay projects, but said this has forced her to start painting again after many years.
She said her favorite piece that she has created is “Self Portrait in Three.”
“For a long time, I made work about dealing with scleroderma and how that was affecting my spiritual journey,” said Archibald. “In this piece I found my artistic voice again, the one that was independent of my illness, the one that has always been there but was obscured by the pressing need of working to stay alive. Making this piece was a moment of true freedom, a moment of bliss for which I am forever grateful.”
Archibald’s creative process is one that includes waiting for an “internal shift” as she calls it to process the anger, sadness, fear or whatever emotion may come up. This process allows for her to understand what has changed throughout her spiritual journey and place that energy change into a piece of work.
Like most artists, Archibald tries not to have expectations for her work because she believes that expectations limit possibilities. However, she said, “My hope is that when people experience my work, they feel themselves in the present moment. That is healing. I hope people feel the healing moment in my own process captured in the work and that some of that energy is transferred.”
Her piece titled, “The Tree of Life” at “EarthAirFireWater: Elements/Sacraments” deals directly with the cycle of life on Earth- birth, death, decay, rebirth as a way of depicting the internal cycle of spiritual change. She will also spoke about the piece at the opening of the exhibit.
South Orange artist Elizabeth Munro will also have works featured in the Nails in the Wall exhibit.