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Virginia church displays contemporary woodcuts as ‘Psalms Visualized’

Psalm 23 woodcut by Kreg Yingst

By Maureen Doallas

Florida printmaker Kreg Yingst’s artistic interpretation of the psalms as woodcuts is the subject of a show sponsored by the Arts & Faith Ministry at St. Michael’s Episcopal Church, Arlington, Va.

The solo show, “Psalms Visualized,” runs from Sept. 22 to Oct. 20 and is drawn from Yingst’s series, “The Psalms in 150 Block Prints” and features both in-person and virtual components.

Ten framed full-color block prints representing various psalms are displayed in the parish hall. Images of these 10 and of an additional 10 color woodcuts — all hand-carved and hand-pulled through an antique press — also can be seen in a more comprehensive online presentation.

The online component includes commentaries and devotions by Yingst, a playlist, a statement about Yingst’s artistic process, and resources. The online exhibition also includes a link to a pdf that can be downloaded and printed as an exhibition catalogue.

Psalm 55 woodcut by Kreg Yingst

Among the selections for in-person and online viewing are Psalms 23, 45, 46, 62, 117, 121, 138, and 150. As inspiration for his images, all of which are 6” x 4”, Yingst meditated daily upon one or two verses from each Psalm before rendering his contemplations into visual metaphors.

His practice, likened to a visio divina (a form of prayer using visual elements), he said, became “more nourish[ing] than an empty calorie of chocolate” and revealed to him “in the here and now” certain “deeper elements” not in the texts themselves. “For me, the Psalms, as difficult as they were to read and interpret, became a devotional, my artwork a prayer.”

All of the framed woodcuts in the parish hall are for sale.

A painter and a self-taught printmaker, Yingst holds a bachelor’s degree in studio art from Trinity University, San Antonio, Texas and a master’s degree in painting from Eastern Illinois University.

Yingst’s art can be found in private and public collections, including those at Purdue University, the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art at the College of Charleston, S.C.; College of Lake County, Illinois; Pensacola State College, Florida; and Janus Corporation, Denver.

Psalm 118 woodcut by Kreg Yingst

Yingst has exhibited his work, which encompasses a music series, in many venues, including art galleries, museums, arts centers, art fairs and art festivals throughout the United States and Canada. He is especially active in Pensacola, Fla., where he has had both group and solo or two-person shows. He boasts a long list of awards and honors.

His work has been featured in various print publications. The online arts magazine Escape Into Life presented selections from Yingst’s music series in May 2022. In addition, Yingst created the illustrations for Christine Valters Paintner’s book, “Birthing the Holy: Wisdom from Mary to Nurture Creativity and Renewal.”

Yingst has authored “The Psalms in 150 Block Prints,” “Light from Darkness: Portraits and Prayers,” “Psalms, Poems, and Prayers,” and “The Blues in Black and White: A collection of block prints.”

Psalms Visualized: Kreg Yingst’s block prints can be seen at St. Michael’s Church, Arlington, Va., Sept. 22-Oct 20, 2022.

Maureen Doallas is the curator of “Psalms Visualized.”

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