This fall, Dr. Sarah Blanton, Assistant Professor, School of Medicine, Division of Physical Therapy, has enjoyed the opportunity to participate in a photography exhibit at the Cannon Chapel at Emory. The narrative theme of this body of work is called “Thin Places” and addresses themes of spirituality in Appalachian landscape.
She says: “My art and spirituality are intertwined so that each fosters the other’s growth. I find the overarching theme of my work a dynamic exchange between these two driving forces. This set of images explores concepts of spirituality and self-reflection through various dimensions of landscape. I have spent the last 20 years trying to portray the sense of place I experience at the lake of my childhood. Located in Upper East Tennessee, South Holston Lake is bordered by the Appalachian Mountains. Being in the presence of this deep, quiet body of water pulls me out of the whirl of life to rest in a centered awareness. At the shores edge, there is such a sense of wisdom and solace. It is a threshold – a true “thin place”.
The concept of thin places comes from Celtic mythology. Peter Gomes, a Harvard theologian, says that these thin places are “in the universe where the visible and the invisible world come into their closest proximity. To seek such places is the vocation of the wise and the good — and for those that find them, the clearest communication between the temporal and eternal. Mountains and rivers are particularly favored as thin places marking invariably as they do, the horizontal and perpendicular frontiers. But perhaps the ultimate of these thin places in the human condition are the experiences people are likely to have as they encounter suffering, joy and mystery.”
South Holston is where I experience the truth of my spirituality at its most sincere and humble levels,” says Dr. Blanton.
Through this exhibit, Dr. Blanton was invited as guest lecture for the Emory University School of Theology class: Chaplaincy in a Multi-Religious World – “Reflections of Art and Spirituality in Appalachia.” She also took part in the “Lunch Time Talks” at Common Grounds café at Cannon Chapel, to discuss her art and the role of spirituality in her work.