Sylvia Gross Bubalo’s art and poetry to be shown in Library Gallery

“Where Two or Three Are Gathered,” 1971, watercolor on paper.
“Where Two or Three Are Gathered,” 1971, watercolor on paper.

Event: “Imagining Community,” artwork and poetry by Sylvia Gross Bubalo
Exhibit Date: August 12 through November 16, 2013
Exhibit Reception: September 8, 2013, 3-5 p.m.
Location: Goshen College Good Library Gallery
Cost: Free and open to the pubic
Curators: Faye Peterson, Ann Hostetler,  and Leonard Gross

The Good Library Gallery will honor Sylvia Gross Bubalo, an artist with Mennonite roots, with an exhibit showcasing her art and poetry this fall. The exhibit, which highlights Gross Bubalo’s passion for spirituality, language and community, will run from Aug.12 through Nov. 16, with a reception on Sept. 8 from 3-5 p.m. in the Library Gallery.

The paintings and drawings selected from Gross Bubalo’s life work will feature six elements of Gross Bubalo’s vision of community: the artistic, the mystic, the gathered community, peace, tension and the divine. Original poetry inspired by her art will accompany the paintings.

Gross Bubalo considered herself “not a Mennonite artist, but an artist born into a Mennonite tradition.” Her work offers a fierce but loving critique of Mennonite orthodoxy by inviting viewers to expand their notion of community to include artists, mystics, women and strangers.

Gross Bubalo’s art also carries a strong spiritual motif. According to her brother, Leonard Gross, she interpreted life honestly and had a strong vision that comes through in her art and poetry. She wrote, “My aim is for my work to be a window or door to the spiritual, and not an end itself.”

A visual artist as well as a poet, Gross Bubalo graduated from Goshen College in 1951 before attending the Mennonite Biblical Seminary in Chicago (1953-55) and the Art Institute of Chicago (1955-59) to pursue her art. There she met her husband, Vladimir Bubalo, also an artist. Together the couple devoted their lives to art as a spiritual vocation.

Although undiagnosed for decades, Gross Bubalo lived with muscular dystrophy, turning to painting as a comfort and intellectual outlet when her body was uncooperative. As her muscles weakened, Bubalo was able to continue painting with the help of her husband until his death in 1989. After his death, Gross Bubalo stopped painting and turned exclusively to poetry. She wrote over 250 poems in her lifetime. Sylvia Gross Bubalo died at the age of 79 in October 2007.

This exhibit is sponsored by the Mennonite-Amish Museum Committee and the Mennonite Historical Library of Goshen College. The Library Gallery, located on the lower level of the Harold and Wilma Good Library on the campus of Goshen College, is open from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday, 1 to 5 p.m. on Saturday and 3 to 11 p.m. on Sunday. Hours vary during academic breaks, summer and holidays. For gallery hours, call (574) 535-7418.

–  By Lexi Kantz