December 2022 – February 2023
Artists make space to honor loss & imagine healing
Featuring words & images from Jeran Avery, Jenna Brack, Gregory Kolsto, Sandee Finley, Dylan Mortimer, Kelli Sallman, David Oakes, and Fredric Sims
No human being experiences a life without enduring grief and loss. Because grieving is universal, there is a particular kind of power to these shared experiences, shaping communities in profound ways. Loss can unite, bending us outward as we tend to one another’s wounds with care. It can also divide, turning us inward as we struggle to survive.
For all of human history the arts have been an integral part of the rituals that aid us in metabolizing grief into something that has the power to nourish communities. In his beautiful book on grief, The Wild Edge of Sorrow, psychoanalyst Francis Weller explains grieving as a fundamentally creative process; “We are remade in times of grief, broken apart and reassembled.” Artists physically break apart and reassemble their materials into new creations, and when they turn toward subjects of personal or communal loss, the work of their hands can create spaces of authentic mourning, hope, and transformation.
In the midst of our grief it is natural to wonder where God is and what his purposes are. Many might feel closer to God as they are broken apart and remade through loss. It is telling that the first two beatitudes from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount address spiritual poverty and mourning:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted…”
This proclamation that such people are blessed in the kingdom of God is an incredibly powerful promise that harmonizes beautifully with many other passages of promise and hope from the Scriptures. The exhibit title, Those who dream in the midst of sorrow, is inspired by Psalm 126. In times of grief we must use creativity as we hope for healing – this is how we imagine a world that doesn’t yet exist. This transformation of tears into a nourishing harvest helps us believe the promise and hope in Jesus is not just a dream.
This exhibit opens during the longing of Advent, the retelling of the anticipation of God’s promised Deliverer. His one and only son Jesus came to earth in a human body and experienced the fullness of grief and loss. The exhibit will close during Lent, when we groan together in anticipation of Jesus’ resurrection.
In Those who dream in the midst of sorrow, I have curated work from four visual artists and four poets to create a space to experience grief and glory together. These artists grapple with themes of illness, anxiety and depression, spiritual crisis and trauma, broken relationships, loneliness, deferred dreams, loss, and disappointment. Though these themes are heavy, the work of these artists shines with the glory of transformation, resilience, miracles, joy, and hope. Their acts of creation in the midst of loss remind us that we serve a God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that do not exist (Romans 4:17). It is this truth that allows us to dream in the midst of our sorrows.
– Kelly Kruse, Curator