Contemporary Icons by Painter Lisa Sweet at Kittredge Gallery

April 4, 2010

Tacoma, Wash.Lisa Sweet borrows symbols and imagery from medieval and early Christian art to create 21st-century icons that explore contemporary concerns and beliefs about faith and myth, ritual and tradition. Her deep, jewel-like colors and painting techniques also have Gothic roots, notably in art of the Netherlands from the 13th and 14th centuries. Sweet’s paintings and prints are intimately scaled and richly detailed like the icons and altarpieces they echo, inviting careful, even meditative study. Her works offer subtly different and unexpected interpretations of traditional images.

Despite the beauty of Sweet’s works, the haunted eyes and scarred flesh of her figures signal that her images also have intense psychological underpinnings. She has said: “Some works investigate … phenomenon in which scriptures, rituals, and myths are interpreted literally and acted upon with undesirable results. In other works, I imagine alternative histories and myths by working in the gaps and ‘unknowns’ of traditional scriptural texts and myths.” The resulting paintings feel both familiar and otherworldly and have strong visual and emotional impacts.

The works on view in devotion and demonstration at Kittredge Gallery, from March 1 - April 10, include paintings and prints from the last several years. One of the highlights is an intriguing and technically challenging installation of prints on tea bags.

Sweet is a professor at The Evergreen State College, where she teaches drawing, printmaking, painting, and medieval and Renaissance art appreciation. She received her B.F.A. in ceramics and drawing from Grand Valley State University and her M.F.A. in printmaking from University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her work is exhibited nationally and can be found in a number of museum and private collections.

Devotion and demonstration was organized by Kriszta Kotsis and Elise Richman, both assistant professors of art at Puget Sound, in conjunction with the Medieval Association of the Pacific Conference, March 4–6, 2010, on the Puget Sound campus. Sweet will be giving a talk titled “Modern Icons: A Northwest Painter Responds to the Medieval Tradition” as part of a conference panel at Kittredge Gallery the afternoon of Saturday, March 6. For conference registration and other details please see Sweet also will give a gallery talk on her work at Kittredge Gallery in early April. Please see the gallery website for further details.

Kittredge Gallery serves as a teaching tool for the art department and a cultural resource for both the university and the community at large, exhibiting work by noted regional and national artists. Exhibits and talks are free and open to the public.

Opening Reception:
Wednesday, March 3, 4 to 6 p.m., Kittredge Gallery

Artist’s Talk:  Saturday, March 6, 3:45 p.m., Kittredge Gallery

Gallery Location: University of Puget Sound, N. 15th St. at N. Lawrence St., Tacoma, WA
Directions and Map:
Regular Hours: 10 a.m.–5 p.m., Mon.–Fri.; noon–5 p.m., Saturday*
*Please note that the gallery is closed March 13 to 21 during spring break.
Web site:

Print-quality photos are available at