A Religious Experience

Adam Belt


During solemn high mass a censer filled with incense is swung emitting smoke symbolizing the rising prayers of the congregation. The fragrant smoke spreads throughout the church and light from our nearest star, the sun, shines through a stained glass window and is manifest as shafts of light. Light has often been associated with the sacred, the infinite, spirituality, and God. Light rays specifically have and continue to be used as symbols in many works of art to allude to the supernatural.

Likewise, the night sky and its humbling array of stars and galaxies incite similar allusions to the infinite and to the sacred. Our collective understanding of the cosmos continues to exponentially increase as scientists make numerous discoveries that expound our sense of awe. Adding to our growing perception are images from satellites and telescopes like the Hubble Space Telescope’s Ultra Deep Field Image, providing a visual representation of scale not available until this present age. Light and a representation of the night sky are brought together in A Religious Experience to create a newly contextualized experience informed by the experiences and presumptions of the visitor.

Similar to religious reliquaries that contain pieces of a sacred object or person, the reliquaries present in the entrance contain ‘pieces’ of light. Sunlight is translated into two different light phenomena in the reliquaries by way of batteries charged by solar panels. In the first, Cloudbreak, a light shines through condensation that changes every day depending on temperature and air pressure. The second, Light Rays, contains individual rays of light.


Adam Belt resides in Carlsbad, CA.  Learn more about Adam on his website.