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Acrylic painting on canvas
Painted in March, 2015 but presented to the church on June 19, 2016
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I was asked to paint this for the foyer of Leamington United Mennonite Church. What an honour!
On June 19th, 2016, it was "unveiled" and I was asked to say a few words about it.
Here's what I said:
It was an honour to be asked to do this painting for your congregation. I share a history with you and therefore also feel that I’m a part of you.
As an artist, I don’t really like to give people my entire interpretation of a painting. I like to leave it to others to put their particular “spin” on it – something that is specifically meaningful to their lives; something that speaks to them.
However, today I’ll tell you as much about the painting as I can.
As your church sign says, yours is a community of healing and hope. And that was my overarching theme for this painting. To me, “healing and hope” represent the past – recent and not-so-recent – present and future.
The Oak tree is an obvious place to start for this church. Many still refer to it as the Oak Street church. It also hearkens back to a particular Oak tree that was a landmark for many people in Russia before coming to Canada. Its strong branches and deep roots continue to represent the wide-sweeping impact of this community.
The building that is tucked in its branches is a nod to the original church building that was on this site. In actuality, the first building was only a portion of this size, but after a couple of extensions, this is the image that remains in living memory.
The cone flowers, or “Echinacea”, are known for their strengthening of the immune system, so they represent healing and well-being.
The fruits & vegetables represent not only the agricultural roots of many in this church, but also the bounty & fruits of labour in a world that has become more diversified.
The lake in the background is Lake Erie. It reminds me of the Sea of Galilee. It represents water and baptism. The distant view of Pelee Island is also an acknowledgment of the place that many of the founders of this church lived before settling in Leamington.
The path from the lake leads directly to the cross.
At the foot of the cross is the cup & bread, a sign of communion with each other and with Jesus.
The hands are ours. They are open – receptive to change, to grace and to love.
The dove carries an oak branch, beckoning us to follow her to be ambassadors for peace in this community and the broader world.
The music, so important to the expression of our faith, that is inscribed in the sky is “606” - Praise God from whom all blessings flow.
And, overall, the empty white cross shines on everything - all that we do & experience, all that we celebrate and all that we know and have known. It is the Alpha & Omega, illuminating all of us.