MACON – Mercer University’s McEachern Art Center (the MAC) will open a new gallery on June’s First Friday with Reliquary, a series of artifacts based in religious iconography and artist Mary O’Malley’s personal experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic, which will be on display from June 3-Aug. 6.
The exhibition focuses on syncretism, or a fusing of different systems of beliefs in philosophy and religion. Examples of syncretism include traditions such as the appropriation of ancient Celtic pagan traditions by the Catholic church, or even the history behind the Christmas tree.
The pieces reflect the artist’s period of syncretic transition from rituals learned from an unbroken line of devout Irish Catholicism, to her and her generation’s development of new spiritual practices. Reliquary also explores the loss of connection with communal religion, the resulting nostalgia from this loss and the search for new tools of catharsis during the isolation of the pandemic.
“Reliquary is the repository of a personal liturgy,” stated O’Malley, a sculptor and ceramic artist from Long Island, New York. The show is a result of O’Malley’s time as the artist in residence at Wesleyan College, funded by Knight Foundation, and residencies at the Hambidge Center for the Creative Arts and Sciences in Rabun Gap, Georgia.
“Summers at The MAC are a time to look at the riches of our local art scene,” said Ben Dunn, director of the MAC. “Mary has become a part of our growing family.”
An opening reception to coincide with downtown Macon’s First Friday will take place on June 3 from 6-9 p.m., with future programming to take place in July and August, including a talk by the artist.
The MAC is located at 332 2nd Street in Macon. Admission is free and open to the public during gallery hours, 4-8 p.m., Thursdays-Saturdays. Media and educators may access the gallery outside of normal hours by appointment.