“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.
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.