‘Sacred Spirits’ Exhibit Celebrates Cultures

May 19, 2023

Eastern Washington University is celebrating the dedication of an impressive gallery space, along with a collection of sacred spiritual artwork procured from countries throughout the world.

The campus community and friends of the university are invited to attend the dedication of the Dr. Robert H. Secrist Gallery, from 3-5 p.m. on Wednesday, June 7. The gallery is located on the first floor of the JFK Library, to the right, just inside the main entrance.

The dedication will debut the “Sacred Spirits” exhibit, a collection of 35 pieces given to the university by Secrist, a longtime teacher of languages and linguistics who traveled extensively while learning about different cultures. This inaugural exhibit is part of a larger collection donated by Secrist that includes hundreds of pieces featuring a stunning array of artist renditions of spiritually symbolic figures from nearly every country in the world.

“While images in a text or on a screen hold value, being able to see these artifacts in real life-viewing everything from fine detail to the impressiveness of true scale- is absolutely priceless,” says Annie Cunningham, a lecturer in painting and art history.

Secrist made a generous gift to establish the Dr. Robert H. Secrist Endowment and name the gallery and create a beautiful display space for interdisciplinary exhibits, which will rotate through the gallery in the years to come.

The retired professor resides in Florida and is traveling to Cheney for the dedication. He will greet the EWU campus community and share some of the background behind this unique collection.

Curated by Secrist, along with EWU Department of Art faculty Annie Cunningham and Joshua Hobson, these selected works feature deities, mythical figures, and sacred symbols from various cultures. The pieces celebrate universal themes that unite humanity.

“The Secrist Gallery is a space where assumptions may be challenged, inspirations fostered, and where the exciting realm of curiosity within education may be ignited,” says Cunningham.