It was the “fruit of the Holy Spirit” that first inspired Rebecca Ellis. The idea comes from a Bible passage, Galatians 5:22-23. Ellis, a longtime Coastside artist and member of the Coastal Arts League, details nine personal attributes or “fruits” for living a holy life.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such there is no law,” is the passage Ellis read four years ago that got her thinking about how to create this message in a more visual medium. She did just that and created a series of paintings with those words in mind.
Now, Ellis has created another sequence of similar messages for a total of 15 words, each designed in a unique way with creative use of mixed media.
The series is part of a new show at the Coastal Arts League. “Art with a Message” will be displayed until Feb. 14 at the Main Street gallery. The Coastal Arts League is open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday through Monday. Both doors will be open for circulation and there are heaters and air purifiers in both galleries.
Fellow Coastsider Nancy Quikert also has work featured in the exhibit. Quikert is a longtime potter and has a variety of functional clay pieces in the gallery. She built her first kiln in Montara in 1981 and used to teach an after-school ceramics program at Farallone View Elementary School.
Each word Ellis presents is accompanied by scenic landscapes or flowers. Words such as “care,” “gratitude,” “hope” and “pray” are vivid and strikingly different yet all follow a similar pattern. When arranged side by side at the gallery, the series is a flowing color spectrum, like a rainbow but with nine colors instead of seven. Ellis added a few steps to her process to give it an extra flair.
First, she printed her photos of landscapes and textures with a high-contrast filter, so they came out in vivid black, whites and gray colors. Then she ripped the prints and glued them together in a new composite. Each piece was sealed with a mixture of medium acrylic before she painted color onto them.
For her “care” word, Ellis wanted to state the message “to care for the Earth, so the imagery behind the word ‘care’ starts with sky, clouds, islands, flowers, rocks and ocean. That’s just one way to get the message.” Other pieces contain more symbolism. Her “remember” work is a semi-abstract tribute to George Floyd, whose death by Minnesota police officers in May sparked nationwide protests.
“The process was, ‘How do I communicate words?’ And I eventually came around to using flowers, because I wanted it to be a pleasant, smile-inducing way for people to remember (those words),” Ellis said.