art

A crisis of compassion

'We heard about monarch butterflies and how they are the symbol of migration. This really captured my heart and stayed with me during the following days.' (Image by PublicDomainPictures/Pixabay)

Mennonite Central Committee’s “People on the Move: Human Rights and Global Migration” student seminar in Ottawa this past February sparked in me a new curiosity and interest in the stories of migrants.

Following the seminar, I contemplated and reflected on the different topics, the work of the speakers presented at the seminar, and the conversations I had with fellow participants at lunch hour and breaks.

From mould to masterpiece

A mosaic of mushrooms captured in Joel Penner and Anna Sigrithur’s film, Wrought, coming out in summer of 2019. (Photo by Joel Penner)

Joel Penner is a time-lapse filmmaker based out of Winnipeg’s West End neighbourhood. But he doesn’t capture typical scenes like sunsets or the bustle of the city. 


Joel Penner.

Swords into ploughshares, guns into art

Irian Sittler-Fast works as a blacksmith in Floradale, Ont. (Photo by Paul Dimock)

Sittler-Fast sits by her sculpture, ‘Gun Shy’ at her first public showing at Hawkesville (Ont.) Mennonite Church. (Photo by Elo Wideman)

(Photo by Paul Dimock)

(Photo by Paul Dimock)

(Photo by Paul Dimock)

Irian Fast-Sittler spends her days hammering hot steel and welding metals together at a forge in Floradale, Ont.

Recently, the 20-year-old blacksmith created a modern-day take on the analogy from the Book of Isaiah of turning swords into ploughshares. Instead, she turned her grandfather’s shotgun into a work of art.

Voices Together visual art chosen

‘Alive,’ a pen and ink drawing by Anne H. Berry, chosen for the theme of ‘the death and resurrection of Jesus.’ (Courtesy of MennoMedia)

‘Nine patch No. 8,’ a monotype by Brenton Good, chosen for the theme of ‘praying.’ (Courtesy of MennoMedia)

Visual art for the Voices Together hymnal has been chosen by the Mennonite Worship and Song Committee. The 12 visual art pieces selected will appear in the forthcoming hymnal—including the pew, worship leader, digital app and projection editions.

Mennonite Gallery celebrates 20 years of art and relationships

Ray Dirks, centre, is pictured with Teresita Chiarella, left, and Winnipeg artist Anthony Chiarella at the Mennonite Heritage Centre Gallery’s 20th anniversary fundraising event. (Photo by Gladys Terichow)

Eleanor and Al Hamm of Steinbach, left, are pictured with Winnipeg artist Lynda Toews at the Mennonite Heritage Centre Gallery’s 20th anniversary fundraising event. Toews painted the nativity scene from her photograph of people from Grace Mennonite Church in Steinbach: Al is the shepherd on the left, Eleanor Hamm is one of the wise men whose face has been changed, John Peters is Joseph, Alyssa Lord is Mary, and Gary Brown is the faceless shepherd on the right. (Photo by Gladys Terichow)

A nativity painting by Winnipeg artist Lynda Toews brings attention to Joseph’s commitment to God, and to the bond between farm animals and people. The donkey’s dorsal strip forms a cross pointing to Baby Jesus. 

‘We became family to each other’

The plaque accompanying the painting reads: ‘“Congregation” by Tom Neufeld, pastor of TUMC, 1976-1979. Presented to CMU by members of Thompson [Man.] United Mennonite Church.’

George Epp, Ted Redekop and Jack Crolly—members of Thompson (Man.) United Mennonite Church from the 1970s—ski together. (Photo courtesy of the Mennonite Heritage Archives)

Members of Thompson (Man.) United Mennonite Church at the Ospawagen church retreat in the 1970s. (Photo courtesy of the Mennonite Heritage Archives)

Thompson (Man.) United Mennonite Church in 1982. (Photo by Marilyn Redekop)

“The Thompson group,” as they sometimes call themselves, at the hanging of the painting ‘Congregation’ on May 24, 2018 at Canadian Mennonite University in Winnipeg. They followed the dedication with a barbecue together. (Photo by Marilyn Redekop)

What do you get when you start a Mennonite church in the middle of nowhere? A community that is still going strong more than 50 years later, even after the church itself has closed its doors.

Broken glass angels provide hope and jobs

Women artists produce angels from shards of glass at the Art and Culture Centre in Bethlehem, West Bank. Thousands of angels have been produced and sold worldwide. (Photo by Albin Hillert/WCC)

Inger Jonasson explains, “The angels of peace are messengers of justice, peace and dignity. And they have become an important lifeline for many Palestinian families in an area where 70 percent of the adult population used to be unemployed.” (Photo by Albin Hillert/WCC)

Originally, they were made of pieces of broken glass from the rubble an Israeli tank left behind when it slammed into the gift shop at the International Centre of Bethlehem (ICB) in 2002. Today the glass angels of peace are made of used bottles and have emerged into a small business enterprise employing around 50 people in the Bethlehem area.

‘Poetry and art for mental health’

Adriel Brandt reads his poem “The Crow” at the May 3, 2018, “Art and Poetry for Mental Health” reception in Abbotsford. In the background is the photograph by Dale Klippenstein (sitting behind Brandt) accompanying the work. Communitas Supportive Care Society sponsored the art exhibit, focusing on mental health issues. (Photo by Amy Dueckman)

Poet Robert Martens shares his work at the Hear and See: Art and Poetry for Mental Health event in Abbotsford, B.C., on May 3, 2018. The exhibit, sponsored by the Communitas Supportive Care Society, gave voice to mental health issues. (Photo by Amy Dueckman)

Depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts and eating disorders may not sound like subjects for art, but a recent exhibit at the Reach gallery proved that art is a powerful medium for educating and talking about mental illness.

Not a ‘mirage’

David MacGregor, a Grade 11 student in Alan Sapp’s drama class, performs his version of ‘The Shoes.’ Multiple performances were offered by different students, each one a different interpretation using only the same pair of boots. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

Lei Tian, an international student from China, shows off his industrial design project. Using parts ordered online and a 3D printer, his project is for a face recognition bike locking station. A Grade 12 student, Tian has been accepted into the prestigious Central Saint Martins, a constituent college of the University of the Arts in London, England. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

The works of Grace Kim focus on the theme of perceptions, using reflections to explore reality. Notice that in the painting of puddles the figure only appears in the reflection, not in reality. The artist is the daughter of Kyong-Jung Kim, the former director of the Korean Anabaptist Center who is now studying at Conrad Grebel University College in Waterloo, and Ellen Kim. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

The work of Grace Kim focuses on the theme of perceptions, using reflections to explore reality. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

Karen Scott Booth, head of Rockway Mennonite Collegiate’s Grade 10-12 visual arts program, exudes pride in the work of her students.

“Mirage: An exhibition of visual art,” held at the school on April 24, 2018, showed why.

‘Just doing my best’

Grace Kang has made art since she was a child. (Photo by Aaron Epp)

Grace Kang’s installation at Bethel Mennonite Church in Winnipeg consisted of 400 prints depicting different pairs of feet suspended in the air using twine and surrounding a large ceramic bowl. (Photo by Aaron Epp)

‘Suffering will always be a part of my art, because it’s such a big part of being human,’ Grace Kang says. (Photo by Gabrielle Touchette)

‘I wanted people to face the places they had been and realize . . . Jesus wants to meet us where we’re at,’ Grace Kang says of her installation at Bethel Mennonite Church in Winnipeg. (Photo by Aaton Epp)

Grace Kang isn’t sure what her future holds, but she knows it will include making art. (Photo by Calvin Strong)

Grace Kang can’t remember a time when she wasn’t making art.

As a child, “I was always drawing, I was always writing stories,” the 22-year-old says. When she learned that art is not something everyone does or is interested in, “I realized it was a unique way I could contribute to the world.”

‘That’s the Spirit’

Paper bead and found materials walk across the table, or form birds that will talk. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

Carolyn Good ‘lights up’ one of her sculptures of found materials and paper beads. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

Not your grandmother’s apple doll, this one is doing yoga to stay supple. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

Paper and rose petal beads form this walking sculpture. (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

Talking birds, paper and rose petal beads, walking jewellery, found-art sculptures. With these and other works, Carolyn Good’s recent show at the WalterFedy-Architecture, Engineering, Construction offices on Queen Street in Kitchener showed off her Mennonite roots of reusing and recycling.

The Anthrocene revisited

‘Death and Life.’ A stump rotting away at Hidden Acres Mennonite Camp speaks of a life well lived and a death creating new life. (Photo by Canadian Mennonite)

Annemarie Rogalsky’s Waterloo ‘Hinterland’ paintings, a four-season cycle, at her solo show ‘The Anthrocene Revisited’ at the Minto Gallery in Harriston, Ont., in February. (Photo by Canadian Mennonite)

Annemarie Rogalsky presents her artist’s statement at the opening of her solo show ‘The Anthrocene Revisited’ at the Minto Gallery in Harriston, Ont., on Feb. 4. (Photo by Canadian Mennonite)

‘Hope Realized.’ This painting focusses on a swamp at Rondeau Provincial Park in southern Ontario. Of no intrinsic value, it harbours the only Canadian nesting site of the Prothonotary warbler. Reflecting on this scene begs the question about hierarchies of values. (Photo by Canadian Mennonite)

‘The Case for Persons.’ This painting commemorates the 1929 British Privy Council decision that, in spite of male wording in the British North America Act, women were indeed persons. (Photo by Canadian Mennonite)

Annemarie Rogalsky, a member of First Mennonite Church in Kitchener, Ont., had a solo show of her landscapes at the Minto Gallery in Harriston during the month of February. Of her images, she says:

‘Along the Road to Freedom’ exhibit tours Alberta

Tim Wiebe-Neufeld stands beside the Ray Dirks painting that tells the story of Maria Friesen Neufeld, his great grandmother, one of the courageous Mennonite women who brought their families out of the hardships and terror of the Soviet Union in the early 1900s. (Photo by Donita Wiebe-Neufeld)

Nettie Dueck, one of four Along the Road to Freedom committee members, travelled from Winnipeg to Edmonton to be at the opening program at King’s University in Edmonton. Dueck is standing beside the Ray Dirks painting that tells her mother’s story. (Photo by Donita Wiebe-Neufeld)

Dave Toews, left, Edmonton exhibition and Alberta tour organizer for the Along the Road to Freedom exhibit, meets Lois Mitchell, Alberta’s lieutenant governor, right, at a private viewing and discussion at King’s University on Dec. 3, 2017. (Photo by Donita Wiebe-Neufeld)

On Dec. 2, 2017, more than a hundred people gathered at Edmonton’s King’s University for the opening of the Along the Road to Freedom art exhibit. This was the first of three stops in Alberta that will end in the spring. 

'Along the Road to Freedom'

Artist Ray Dirks, seated, and Hans (John) Funk looking over his easel. (Photo by Evelyn Petkau)

Seeking to honour the faith of Mennonite mothers who single-handedly brought their families through difficult and challenging experiences to safety, Winnipeg artist Ray Dirks has created “Along the Road to Freedom,” a travelling exhibit currently on display at Conrad Grebel University College’s new gallery in Waterloo, Ont.

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