Pittsburgh artists offer interpretations of the Stations of the Cross

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Sandra Conley began with wooden boxes from a dollar store. She painted the wood, then added small figures and gold chains and silver coins.

In tiny lettered beads, she spelled out the words spoken by the Sanhedrin: "We have no King but Caesar."

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On Good Friday, a day when Christians often observe the 14 Stations of the Cross, Ms. Conley, 60, an artist who lives in Peters, unveiled her interpretation of the Third Station, when Jesus is condemned by the Sanhedrin, a council of elders.

"This was my Lent," Ms. Conley said. "I didn't give up candy for Lent. But I truly worked on this for most of Lent."

Her assemblage piece was one of 15 works of art (there are two of the crucifixion) displayed in "By His Wounds," a Stations of the Cross art exhibition presented through 9 tonight by The Open Door church at their meeting site inside The Union Project, 801 N. Negley Ave., Highland Park.

It is the seventh year that The Open Door, which is part of the Presbyterian Church (USA), has asked artists to create their own interpretations of the traditional Stations of the Cross, said the Rev. B.J. Woodworth, co-pastor of The Open Door. The art pieces are displayed each year for just one day, Good Friday.

This year, there were framed photos of a garden scene to represent Station One, when Jesus is praying in the Garden of Gethsemane. There was a rooster made of Legos to represent Station Four, when Jesus is denied by his disciple Peter. And for Station 14, a short video display on an iPad represented the moment Jesus is laid in the tomb.

The message of the Stations of the Cross artistic display is "that the church is not old and stodgy," Mr. Woodworth said.

"It's creative and innovative and trying to think fresh about an ancient tradition," he said.

And, he said, it's also a way to invite people back into the Church that may not show up for a typical Sunday service.

Ms. Conley, the artist who does assemblage work, goes to her services at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Upper St. Clair, rather than at The Open Door. Yet when she learned of the art project, she decided it would be a good way for her to reflect.

"I think this is really unique," she said. "It's really a wonderful opportunity to blend your faith and your art."

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This story originally appeared in The Pittsburgh Press. To subscribe, go to http://old.post-gazette.com/trypress/ Kaitlynn Riely: kriely@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1707. First Published April 6, 2012 2:00 PM


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