In Art, Events

painting of green dress in water with lily padsWorks of award-winning artist Jean Sbarra Jones will be on display in the University’s Connie A. Eastburn Gallery during the Spring 2021 semester. Her exhibit What Dreams May Come, features acrylic paintings of her signature subject of a dress floating in water. 

painting of white & blue dress floating in waterJean began painting costumed figures while she pursued an MFA at Boston University College of Art, focusing most of her attention on brooding women. It wasn’t until after graduate school—when she had a pile of costumes and no models—that she turned her attention to the dress. She began painting the clothing as still-life material until she was on a boat trip with her husband and placed the dress in the ocean. Inspired by the shape and texture of the fabric, the quality of the light, and the differences between the wet and dry areas, the dress became her new subject. Jean’s dresses have traveled from Massachusetts to Aruba, inspiring a body of work rich in narrative and hauntingly beautiful. 

Her artistic journey was followed by a spiritual one, as she began to follow Christ after she began painting the dresses. According to Jean, the dress has become a metaphor: “the worn and well-traveled dress represents renewal by light and water—a baptism of sorts.”

painting of red dress floating in water next to reedsJean’s works have been exhibited widely, received grants for residency, and been published most recently in AcrylicWorks5 and Studio Visit Magazine. Her works have not only been selected to be in several different exhibitions by numerous leaders in the art world but can also be found in many private collections as well. In addition to painting, Jean also teaches at Massachusetts College of Art and Design. 

Sbarra’s work will be on display and available for purchase in the Eastburn Gallery until March 26, 2021. Gallery hours are Monday–Saturday from 8:30 am–4:30 pm; guests are welcome to view her works on campus, but masking and social distancing precautions must be observed when on campus. If you are interested in purchasing a piece or organizing a tour for your church, school, or homeschool group, contact the Gallery Collection Curator, Matt Stemler, at mstemler@cairn.edu.

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