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Artist's journey brings him home

Kenneth Bridger is a graphic designer/artist and he is on a quest to discover the “Artistic Voice” that is found in the light, sound and frequencies that the shamans claim is the very essence and backdrop of creation.

Kenneth Bridger is a graphic designer/artist and he is on a quest to discover the “Artistic Voice” that is found in the light, sound and frequencies that the shamans claim is the very essence and backdrop of creation.

ALBANY -- Kenneth Bridger's life is a journey.

As one might expect, a journeyman's nature thrives on travel. And Bridger's adventures have taken him to more than 27 countries, to places like Mali, Cameroon, Namibia, Kenya, Siberia, Sri Lanka, Peru.

But with Bridger, life's journey is about more than distance covered. The acclaimed graphic designer/artist is on a quest to discover the "Artistic Voice" that is found in the light, sound and frequencies that the shamans claim is the very essence and backdrop of creation.

Those frequencies, which Bridger the artist calls harmonic resonance, are vital components of the art collection that the Albany native will showcase at the opening reception for his "EartHart: An Artistic Retrospective" exhibit at Albany's Carnegie Library Thursday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

The exhibit will remain on display through Oct. 28. The Arts Council, located at the Old Carnegie Library at 215 N. Jackson St., is open 10 a.m.-4 p.m. weekdays. Admission is free.

"I was on a two-year spiritual pilgrimage to Mexico and South America when I came home in March of 2009 to take care of my parents," said Bridger, who started his travels at age 17 and lived for 20 years in Milan, Italy, before expanding his spiritual journey. "As I helped my father prepare for his death, I told him I was going to hold a show for him one day, even if he was not here to see it.

"I'd held an ethnic festival in a small town in northern Italy in 2003, and I decided that's what I wanted to do here in Albany. My father passed away in November, and I am dedicating this show to him."

Included in the exhibit is the totem "Passage Toward the Infinite," a creation Bridger dedicated to his father. Other artistic media showcased will include static, kinetic and light sculpture; glass, enamel and copper jewelry; and image-inspired mixed media, much of which is built around photographs taken of indigenous tribes and cultures the artist experienced in his travels.

"I call (the exhibit) 'EartHeart' because art is all about listening through the heart," Bridger said. "The Earth and the human heart vibrate on the same resonance."

After earning a degree in visual communication from Georgia State University, Bridger took a trip to Greece, where he met the woman who would become his wife. They moved to Milan, where he earned renown as a graphic designer and became the father of two daughters.

"My parents always told me I could go anywhere I wanted so long as I paid for it," Bridger said. "I got a construction job and saved up enough money to go to California when I was 17. I always envisioned myself living in Italy, and when I met my wife and discovered she had a place in Milan, I saw my dream come true."

Bridger's first job was with designer Gianni Versace, but he soon started his own business. His branding and design work won him international acclaim and awards, and he was soon in demand.

But after he and his wife divorced, Bridger's true spiritual journey began. An ulcer that developed from the stress of his divorce was healed miraculously by a shaman, and the tenets of shamanism became a vital component of his journey.

"Some people confuse shamanism with sects or satanists," Bridger said. "But true shamans are elders who are totally connected to nature and its healing powers."

When Bridger returned to Albany to care for his ailing parents, he connected with the GraceWay Recovery Residence, for whom he's done branding and graphic work.

"I knew Kenneth and his family from growing up in Albany, but he came back to us at the perfect time," GraceWay Development Director Liz Dixon said. "We had just started to redo our branding and website, and he gave both GraceWay and the Bread House a world-class look.

"I'm excited about Kenneth's art work. I'm no critic, but I know he has a way of capturing the feel of a moment in time and incorporating it into his art. I also know we're so fortunate to have him come back into our lives."

The opening reception for Bridger's exhibit at the historic Carnegie Library will include a display of his art -- much of which will be for sale -- wine, "ethnic edibles" and "tantalizing tinctures" sure to please all the senses of area art lovers.

For additional information about Bridger's work, contact the Albany Area Arts Council at (229) 439 ARTS (2787).