Thirteen is a number often associated with bad luck. But, in the case of the new art show opening at the Columbia Center for the Arts "Daughters of Earth: In Our Hands," 13 represents a powerfully positive force.

The show, opening Jan. 7 and running through Jan. 30, will begin with a public reception Friday, from 6-8 p.m.

Five women artists from the Gorge symbolically celebrate wisdom, compassion, courage, resilience and hope through the collaborative installation, which reflects upon portraits of 13 women from around the world created by Janet Essley, show organizer.

Essley's portraits and narratives highlight women who, whether young or old, educated or not, represent active stewardship of the earth. In unique and disparate ways the featured women's stories illustrate equitable sharing of earth's bounty and protection of water and food resources.

"This show is the result of women committing to incredible amounts of work in honor of Mother Earth," said Essley.

"It is a great way to begin a new year. We're highlighting the many people around the world and in the Gorge who are doing the right work of keeping our food and water secure."

The remaining four artists in the show have undertaken to create their own interpretations in differing media, of these 13 women's stories and the positive force they represent.

Giving contemporary meaning to the universal need for healthy and accessible water and food, Cathy Stever's 13 fused glass artworks evoke the 13 moons of the lunar calendar, and the cycle of resource rejuvenation inherent in seasonal change.

Life-cast artist Peny Wallace, using Gorge residents as models for sculpture, combines cast hands and objects shown in the paintings to create a connection between the Daughters of Earth and the Daughters of the Gorge.

Mother-daughter artists Julia Zweerts Brownfoot and Judi Kane literally and artistically represent a shared responsibility for intergenerational stewardship of our planet.

Zweerts Brownfoot's intricate hand-painted bowls depicting the art and culture of the women, remind us of Earth's delicate web while we nourish our bodies.

Kane commemorates the women through fiber and beads on pad-folios and medicine bags, easily symbolizing the importance of memory gathering and healing to maintain healthy connections to the earth.

Art purchased during the show will support the concept of "contribution" exemplified through "In Our Hands." Each artist has agreed to donate 40 percent of sales to support the art center and five percent to organizations connected to the Daughters of Earth.

An artist talk will take place at 5:30, on Jan. 7 prior to the opening reception. The talk will focus on the artworks in the show, and on the participating artists' exploration of the earth's future held within our hands.

Featured women and their respective contributions to the sustanance of the earth are:

Maria Huananay of Peru, kitchen worker; Peregrina Kusse Viza of Bolivia, educator; Hyun, Ai-Ja of South Korea, orchardist; Vandana Shiva of India, scientist; Helena Norberg Hodge of England (b. Sweden), university professor; Chrissy Swain of Canada, mother and youth leader; Marian Kramer of the U.S., social worker; Diana Lopez of the U.S., urban gardener; Jennifer Hall-Massey of the U.S., bank analyst; Christina Ora of Solomon Islands, high school student; Tsering Dolma Gyaltung of China, Tibetan activist in exile; Eve Bettu Geddec of Ethiopia, farmer; Centolia Maldonado of Mexico, weaver.


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