MOFSA’s Spiritual Art Grants

Jennifer MCormick (2018)

A graduate of Johns Hopkins University Medical School in the Department of Art as Applied to Medicine, Jennifer McCormick pursued a career as a medical illustrator, including creating medically accurate illustrations that show what happens to a person involved in an accident. In 17 years of reading  medical records, she gathered more than patient data – she repeatedly felt their shock at sudden injury. Jennifer keenly felt their frustration through the words in the progress notes. She began to notice that how a person thinks about their health either energizes them or degrades them.  Such contemplation lead her to read books about the afterlife, consciousness and healing, concluding that there is more involved in the healing process than medical technology. “I now believe that the best parts of all religion are the efforts we make to strengthen our oneness with each other and with THE divine energy. The light inside each being inspires me to make art, not only for my own curiosity, but also in the hope that the image will raise an audience’s awareness.”

Martin Dunn (2020)

Martin Dunn learned art from his father, who had been taught by his mother. His father was an artist, who worked as a commercial illustrator in the days before clip art. He was also a war hero, who suffered from PTSD for the rest of his life. His few oil paintings are dark, monochromatic renderings of fighter planes in tight formation. He was trying to say something that the society of that era wouldn’t let him put into words. Martin’s own journey has taken him to nursing homes, operating rooms, county jails, homeless camps, Hispaniola, Africa, churches, temples, mosques, and synagogues. It has led him in a spiritual direction and to create painting that are not dark but offer hope. “I am also a mystic, which I use interchangeably with the word spiritual, as well as non-dual. As a mystic I am attempting to fully experience the ordinary while peeking through to glimpse the infinite. I also would describe myself as a Christian, since I see Jesus as the truest and most profound manifestation of the infinite. And I want so badly for everything I paint to reflect those glimpses.”

Karen Benioff Friedman (2022)

Karen Benioff Friedman discovered drawing and printmaking in college, and a year in Jerusalem led her to a deep connection to her Jewish roots and heritage. When her father died she dug deeper into art, a passion she shared with him, to feel closer to his memory and to honor his life. At the same time as she was delving more deeply into art, she was also attaining a leadership role in the Chevra Kadisha, those who take on the Jewish rituals of death and mourning. An encounter with a cycle of Czech paintings from the eighteenth century depicting the work of the Chevra Kadisha at that time led to a life goal of portraying the work in its contemporary form.

Deborah Hamon (2022)

Deborah Hamon’s journey has included the Polar Pom Project in 2013, to connect kids in a conversation about art and climate change. She has continued to travel, including a trip to Siberia in 2019. She uses photographs as a way into a painting but she does not seek to know the result ahead of time. In every way she is an explorer. She is interested in open-ended narratives about the human condition, aliveness, hopes and fears, embracing the whole journey. Above all she seeks for her paintings to inspire hope.

Emily McIlroy (2022)

Emily’ McIlroy‘s journey is a deep one, facing grief, first from the death of her twin brother. She looked to psychology and to neuroscience, and to experts on twins and religion. She looked to art and to the natural world around her. Then came the unexpected death of her mother. She painted and prayed, painted and prayed, coming to a greater sense of peace. Now she is seeking to create a new body of work centered on the aspiration of union. She sees art as a way to change the contours of one’s reality and the larger reality of which one is a part.