Missoula Art Museum Features Four Young Women in Their New Show, “Imaging the Sacred”


Three of Birdie Hall’s pieces included in the exhibition, located in the Missoula Art Museum’s top floor gallery. Photo Courtesy of Ila Bell

Ila Bell, Reporter

The Missoula Art Museum is taking on a new approach to their traditional exhibitions with their show “Imaging the Sacred”. Four upcoming female artists are featured, showing their own approach on the idea of femininity, religion, and spirituality. Birdie Hall, Talia Roberts, Daphne Sweet, and Aprile Werle, are the four artists included, all of whom are local to Montana. The show opened Sept. 27 and will continue to be open through Feb. 18, 2023. 

Brandon Reintjes, Senior Curator for the MAM said, “I think that ‘to image’ is to make a visual representation, or to help bring something into being visually that is usually hard to conceive.” 

The title, Imaging the Sacred was bounced around during the planning stages of the exhibition with the artists and the MAM. “We hit upon ‘sacred’ as meaning deserving respect or reverence of something people hold dear,” said Reintjes. Reintjes said the MAM had been tracking each artist for up to 8 years, and he worked to get them together for the show. “These were all artists I hoped to work with in some capacity someday,” said Reintjes. With longstanding connections to the MAM and each artist bringing in a different approach and feel through their work, the exhibition turned out a cohesive yet diverse set of work.

Artist Birdie Hall was one of the artists featured in the exhibition. Hall’s bright and eye-catching work has deeper themes, specifically in the show, which are rooted in femininity and spirituality. “My work centers around the sacred, the indisputable realities of being a biological female,” said Hall. Hall also said that her work centers around “trying to find salvation in a world obsessed with creating conflict and confusion.” Hall worked with the theme of the show to find her own take on the idea behind the exhibition. 

“The title of the show to me indicates the historical need of artists to go beyond their sociopolitical or biographical restrictions in order to push for visionary art that creates a world better than the one they have been born into,” said Hall. Hall’s work showed a reflection of not only the idea that was behind the show but also her own personal experiences and how they connected to the subject of spirituality. Drawing upon her own religious background and her knowledge of different cultural practices of religion added to her work and different methods and mediums that she used.

While this was Hall’s first show at the MAM she said, “My work from day one has always been concerned with spiritual themes.” Working with the MAM in the past through studio visits Hall has built up a relationship with the museum that led to this exhibition.

Other artists such as Daphne Sweet, April Werle and Talia Roberts also succeeded at working to select pieces that added their unique take on the topic. April Werle’s pieces focused on the earth and using repurposed materials to convey spirituality. With large circles painted in rich earth pigments, she represents moon phases and celestial cycles. In Werle’s artist statement she said, “The spectrum of color reveals the individuality each rock pigment evokes in our senses and emotions. This is the sacred magic of art— from unison comes creation.” 

All of the four artists that contributed to the show brought new ideas to the show and collectively created an exhibit that the Missoula Art Museum has never seen before. Located in the upper gallery, the show will continue to be up through Feb. 18, and the different featured artists will be giving classes up until that date. Make sure to check it out and support the MAM and the artists included.