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Therefore I Have Hope – "From Chaos There Rises the World of the Spirit"

- Adam Mickiewicz

Artist Charlene Dorman and her familyArtist Charlene Dorman was born in Lexington, Massachusetts. She graduated from Skidmore College and received her Masters in Education from Tufts University, specializing in bringing children with special needs into the public classroom. She learned black and white photo-chemistry at the New England School of Photography in Boston, and, upon moving to the West Coast, studied with Ansel Adams, Don Worth, Lyle Gomes and others. Her work has been exhibited widely and won awards locally, nationally and internationally. Book covers include “Adoration” published by Ignatius Press. Her work is in private collections here and abroad, including that of the Vatican.

"This body of work was born as a result of 9/11. On that day, I was expecting to return home to California to my husband and daughters. I was heading for Logan Airport in Boston when I learned a flight had just departed from there and hit the first of the Twin Towers. I frantically began trying to locate our son Todd and his wife Beverly, who live in Manhattan; after many hours I was successful. As soon as Amtrak was running, I boarded the train to be with them, amidst the chaos, the smells and tastes of smoke and loss of life, and yes, that relentless New York Spirit. Eventually the day arrived, however, when I needed to leave them amidst those enormous unknowns to fly back to our California home and family. I was badly torn with no easy peace in sight. As my flight stopped in Chicago, the grandmother of Mark Bingham, the hero of Flight 93, boarded; she was going to attend his funeral in California. I arrived home to my beloveds who could not fully comprehend the spiritual and physical chaos of New York and the East Coast. I felt isolated.

Each dawn the Holy Spirit invited, no, compelled me directly into my studio. There I am surrounded by quotations like the Communion of Saints, which I've gathered to encourage and remind myself:

Photograph by Charlene DormanComfort one another with the Comfort with which you have been comforted. - 2 Cor 1:4

There is a sober minded vigilance which characterizes the ascetic life. This tradition fully calms one's spirit which seeks fulfillment, inner peace and stillness. - Holy Martyr Gregory the Illuminator, Bishop of Armenia

Contemplate and give to others the fruits of your contemplations. - St. Thomas Aquinas

Beautiful children, in your eyes is the very gaze of Jesus. - Charles Péguy

When you painted on earth, at least in your earlier days, it was because you caught glimpses of Heaven in the earthly landscape. The success of your painting was that it enabled others to see the glimpses too. Every poet and musician and painter, but for Grace, is drawn away from love of the thing he tells to love of the telling, 'til down in Deep Hell they cannot be interested in God at all but only in what they say about Him. For it doesn't stop in being interested in paint, you know. They sink lower-they become interested in their own personalities and then in nothing but their own reputations. - C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce

Photograph by Charlene DormanArtists by their very nature are alert to every "epiphany" of the inner beauty of things. Those who perceive in themselves this kind of divine spark which is the artistic vocation feel at the same time the obligation not to waste talent but to develop it in order to put it at the service of their neighbor and of humanity as a whole. - Blessed John Paul II, Letter to Artists.

A time comes to all of us to stretch out our hands in passivity: a time when God takes over, and our resistance folds. This is the hardest meditation; it touches a reality that in the long run we cannot escape. - Sacred Space: The Prayer Book 2009

One yellowed paper, a prayer written in India by Amy Carmichael 80 years ago, has been taped to my darkroom door, and prayed, for 18 years. Irish and brown-eyed, as a missionary in India Amy colored her skin with coffee, donned a sari and passed little noticed through the portals, towns and temples recovering children who had been sold or stolen and used there for wrong purposes. Her knowing of evil was real. The schools and orphanages she founded are ongoing.

Prayer by Amy Carmichael - Irish Missionary in India

Day after day, week after week, I was driven, driven, to stay in my studio. There I sat amidst the world's and my own chaos - thirty years of work prints, finished prints, binders filled with thousands of negatives from many countries, and my own priceless clutter. The Spirit began rising.Years of photographs and this prayer by Amy Carmichael - which had rested in proximity for so many years - now gradually began WORKING TOGETHER, each giving the other new cohesiveness and meaning.

Red Chinese Pavilion at 1971 World Trade Fair in Cairo - Charlene Dorman

Photographs with little previous context, such as the image I'd taken at Red Chinese pavilion at a 1971 world trade fair in Cairo of a vulgar North Korean propaganda poster which had always frightened me, became part of an understanding worse than I could have imagined before 9/11. An innocence was now gone.

Be still, and know that I am God. - Ps 46:10

I struggled but I persevered. Living in my work and with Amy Carmichael's prayer reminded me how faithful God has been in my life time after time. Didn't He deliver me from fiery serpents as I wandered the world alone looking for Him? Didn't He become the glue in our once fractured family? Didn't Jesus fix us? Isn't He fixing us still? This work deepened into contemplative prayer. For the world's unborn, for the born and the aging I pled aloud, 'God have mercy on us! God have mercy on us.'

Nepalese Mother & Child - Charlene DormanCharlene's Daughter, Grandson and Son-in-Law - Charlene DormanTibetan refugee in Kathmandu - Charlene DormanCongolese children fetching water - Charlene Dorman

Gradually Hope returned. Hope for the future of our world. And Hope for the future we and our children and grandchildren will live. This gift of Hope Who is Jesus, the Lord of our History, Jesus who lives forever and ever. From chaos there indeed rose the world of the Spirit; therefore I have Hope." - Charlene Dorman

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