Tag Archives: Faith

Cancelled Art Exhibition

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“Pilgrimage Fragments: World” 2020 Deborah Stephan

This is a preview of my cancelled art show; postponed to 2021.  The exhibition that I have for 24 paintings in June will probably be put off until next year also.  Life is unpredictable – handle with faith!  The world is in lockdown; be at peace and look up.

“Pilgrimage Fragments”

Artist Statement

Postage stamps from various countries leave, return home and converge on hand-painted paper leftovers from art school projects.  Decade after decade the collection grew.  Postage stamps from family travels, from friends afar, and international homestay students, lay in a file waiting to be collaged and historicized for future generations.  Microscopic beauty portrayed pilgrimages and voyages of loved ones through war and peace.

Like the fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls Exhibition at the Royal Ontario Museum of Toronto in the summer of 2009, they lie open for our viewing and for piecing together of the lives that created them.  The Qumran Caves hermit scribes, the family and business writers, and the visitors from Europe, Africa, Iran, Mexico, Spain, North America, all leave their mark as they inscribe life’s meaning.

They say that Jesus is like a red thread all through the Bible.  So too, the red yarn links each of the twelve art works here.  Prayers of our ancestors are still being answered throughout our lives through moves, relationships and hardships.  We can slow down, consider like daily laundry, how our quotidian habits of the heart form our life’s journey.  As we view the travel collages, perhaps we can invite God to travel with us, enjoy God’s company, and let God set the itinerary.  Others have set out in coracle boats like the Celts’ missionary journeys, others have walked the Camino de Santiago sacred route in Spain, or to Lourdes in France for healing.  Some are arm-chair travellers whose journeys are more inward than outward but powerful nonetheless.

The viewer embarks on a journey of self-knowledge, God knowledge, or even to seek meaning in life by studying people in other cultures.  Questions may come to mind, ought I to go on an expedition, what kind of passage, who will I invite as a travel companion, and even what will be lost or found if I set out on a spiritual quest, will there be enemies to overcome?  How much do we want to be changed?  We count the cost as we consider what we will risk for compassion and service of others.

Deborah Stephan

Vancouver, 2020.

Renovations

IMG_2823“Scaffolding WVBC” phone photo DS

Perhaps the playing field is being relevelled

Perhaps postmodernism brings equality

After the fall of Christendom

A First among equals will re-emerge

 

Five hundred years after Luther

A new set of theses is on the door

Let my people go is top

Bottom reads my Spirit reigns

 

My house needs renovation

Cracks are on the walls

Nicks from the vacuum on baseboards

Leaks along the patio where

Water falls

 

My heart cries from the dug-up soil

Hardness is being enfleshed

Forgiveness is on my lips

A new thing rises

In its place

Gratitude for grace.

DS

Art Can Imitate Life

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Installation View “Holy Cups” DS

At some point during the week between Christmas and New Year I find myself reviewing the year and setting priorities.  Both the studio and the prayer are quiet, sporadic, ad hoc, and unfocused.  Self care is taking its turn, finally.

Since the summer, shredding papers has been my contemplative activity.  Many of those papers are articles kept for writing essays, the essays themselves, and images for collage. This morning I came across one of my papers about the life of faith as an artist.  A quote from philosopher Nicholas Wolterstorffe expresses both the temptation of an artist and, in my case, how faith and art practices co-exist so well:

The art lover, like the mystic, turns away from ordinary concerns to be caught up in the bliss of contemplation… art takes over the function of this worldly salvation, no matter how this may be interpreted.  It provides a salvation from the routines of everyday life… Picasso expresses [about art]: “I love it as the only end of my life.”… Thus works of art become surrogate gods, taking the place of God the Creator; aesthetic contemplation takes the place of religious adoration…  “Art in Action”

Choices must be made.  In the life of faith, art making serves God, not money.  The unpopular image is enfleshed when one knows it will not be well received.  One does not build a career so much as follow Jesus on an art journey that imitates real life.

A table painted with checkerboard circle and vines, a round glass mirror, with hand-built pottery cups with holes around the edge and butterfly handles, and a little brown basket.  Is there any meaning here?  One could never drink from such cups with rows of holes.  Even so I am impressed to display them as some kind of worship.  There is no doubt that these items in their hand-made imperfect form are no competitor for the worship on offer.  It seems to me that God is pleased with this offering of my talents, such as they are.  Will it be another year of creating work that does not sell?