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With mom's help, Peace Corps volunteer brings experience home

click to enlarge Barbara Davies Olgii Wall Hanging.
  • Barbara Davies Olgii Wall Hanging.

In e-mails and photographs to friends and family, Kathy Davies was just hoping to share her experiences as a Peace Corps volunteer in Mongolia. But back in Colorado Springs, her dispatches were turning into creative inspiration for her mother.

"We were living vicariously through her," says mom and local artist Barbara Davies, describing how she was drawn to the colors and shapes in the images that Kathy sent home.

Four weeks after Kathy returned from the Central Asian country, she and her mother are ready to expose the public to the nomadic lifestyle maintained by hundreds of thousands of Mongolian people in an exhibit of watercolors, photography, and folk art at the Bridge Gallery.

Working eight months to complete the series, Barbara used watercolors to portray the conditions of life found in the Gobi Desert and the mountainous steppes of Mongolia. Barbara says she wanted to capture the Mongolians' "simplicity of life" with her paintings.

For Kathy, the photographs and paintings recall her stay in Mongolia.

"It was definitely educational, in a way that no classroom could ever touch. ... For two years, it was a different life, but it was still my life, and I had a different experience with noticing the cultures, and everyday things that actually stood out because I was a foreigner in a different place.

"I've come back to America with that same attitude. I think [I am] looking at everyday things with a different set of eyes and just kind of appreciating how beautiful it is here a little bit more."

Kathy adds that she came back wanting to educate more people about Mongolian culture.

"The Mongolians are really impressive people, and I'd like more people to appreciate that. [The Peace Corps experience] gives you a different perspective on the world, and I wanted to share that with other people. If you do that through images, I think it's a lot more effective and powerful."

The art exhibit will include an ovoo, a cairn made of rocks or sticks and blue silk scarves, which Mongolians build as sacred sites, and Kazakh wall hangings, which are elaborately embroidered wall coverings used to warm the walls of gers, or yurt-like homes, in western Mongolia.

"All the threads they use for [the wall hangings] they sell in the market," Barbara says. "I did a whole painting on that. It was a line of different types of threads they use and it made a wonderful photo as well as a painting."

On Saturday, Kathy will present an informational slide show, sharing additional images and stories of her time in Mongolia.


capsule

Wild Mongolia

Bridge Gallery, 218 W. Colorado Ave, in the Art Mill Building

Opening reception Friday, Aug. 4, 5-9 p.m.; slide show presentation Saturday, Aug. 5, 10:30 a.m.; show runs through Aug. 27.

Call 232-9368 for more information.

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