During our Fall 2021 Art and Poetry Contest, we were delighted to receive contest entries related to our “map and mend” theme from digital art to pencil crayon, from well-established artists to people trying blackout poetry for the first time! Scroll down to find the five contest winners and three honourable mentions.
First place for visual art
Coming in first place for visual art is an untitled piece by Adelaide Allen from Stone Mountain, Georgia.
“This painting hangs in my room with a George MacDonald quote above it,” Allen says. “‘While I slept, the sun slept not’ – with the idea behind it that “He who keeps you will not slumber” (Ps. 121:3); when the world shuts down, and when we shut down too, God is still at work. His movements are not restricted. It represents, for me, some of what the Lord has been teaching me about rest and Sabbath in this strange season. I am able to stop and rest because He is in control and He is good.”
Judge and Niagara-area artist George Langbroek points out that Allen’s medium mirrors the content “the paint is poured on the canvas in an out-of-control spontaneity, almost as if the artist is allowing God to control the paint. The painting has connotations of turmoil and Sabbath rest.”
Second place for visual art
In second place is “Rise Up” by Elizabeth Nanninga from Ottawa.
Nanninga said that the middle of COVID felt “like a silent suffering, all of us locked in our own canvas.” After 16 months without inspiration, Nanninga read the story of an eagle in Sayer’s book The Disappearing Church. She began to paint again. “I felt compelled; even led; to pick up my paints and put down on canvas what God imprinted on my heart. “Rise Up” speaks to me of lifting my eyes above the “forest of suffering” to the skies where eagles silently soar majestically in a large expanse of open skies. Here is a cathedral-like holy space where my heart touches the Father’s and all is well with my soul. For a moment, when you really see, you can soar above the trials and peace invades your being. You want others to see and experience this wonder too. God is still on His throne, be still and know. Painting this image mapped out for me a way forward out of the mire and helped my heart mend towards trust and hope. Sharing my painting with others is not only my confession but my testimony. The visual speaks to all of hope and transcendence. God is in His Temple, let all within keep silent. Isaiah 40: 27-31 maps the way forward, “but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles”. My prayer is that the church will “rise up” and live; so others will know God. It’s essential!” Langebroek comments, “The image of an eagle is a very biblical motive used to compare God to a bird that teaches its young how to fly with grace and beauty. The artist statement was as eloquently written as the eagle.”
Third place for visual art
In third place is “Arise Isaiah 60” (60 X 24 inches, acrylic) by Frank van Veen from Parkland County, Alberta.
It is one of a series of paintings Frank created during the year with these things in mind: “21 months of isolating when called to go out into the world; looking for clarification and direction; watching our communities break apart and suffer; breaking and mending; declaring identity and being affirmed in body of Christ solidarity; by God’s grace finding new communities when the former can’t be found; breaking and mending; dark times and light hearts, dark fears and the light of hope; where is our strength and who is the light for our path; who is our rock and where does the light take us; who are we and whose are we; where do we go or is it who are we as we stay in place. This art expresses the lament and darkness; joy, hope and peace that we are blessed with; the comfort and strength supplied by the Word of God, his Holy Spirit, and the communion of saints.”
Langebroek comments, “This image has thoughts and connotations of cathedrals and stained glass windows. The central figure is reaching for what looks to be statues of historic saints. There is light coming through the windows as the three figures form a community.”
There is a longstanding motif in Christian art that represents Abraham’s three visitors as the community of the Trinity. As in many icons of the three visitors, the three humans in the lower half of this painting look directly at the viewer. The human on the right reaches out his hand invitingly. The human on the left both lifts his right hand up and reaches it down, and the human in the middle, with the most clearly defined face, looks to the viewer as he simultaneously directs our vision up to a community above them – a community that seems to be caught in both lament and praise.
Sara de Waal, an author and teacher from Abbotsford, B.C., judged the blackout poetry entries. We were delighted to receive entries from people who were trying blackout poetry for the first time!
First place in the 19+ age category for blackout poetry
In first place in the 19+ category is a poem called “Interrupting Order” made jointly by Alissa Vernon and her children Daniel and Hannah.
Alissa explains: “We made it over two pages of a school workbook–one that was used in at-home learning. I like that doodles and correcting marks can be seen and our highlighted words include those that were hand-written. Although our title extends over both pages, after that the left page is one stanza of our poem and the right another. The left side is our “mapping” side, highlighting where we have been and showing the interruption. The right side is our hopeful, ordering, “mending” side. This is how we read the highlighted words in our poem, with a little bit of added punctuation:
Sometimes people make mistakes:
nurses, doctor, father.
Sister, lessons today.
Schools, science teacher, students
least < most left, right
swan, books, fish, sky=
small, green place.
de Waal comments: “”Interrupting Order” is a reflective piece of black-out poetry, a story of mapping and mending in our current times. The hand-written answers and corrections add texture to the narrative tucked in and around the text. The circled and underlined words form a sparse but powerful poem–honest, fractured, yet full of hope. The workbook forms a natural diptych and the crease splits the poem into two stanzas, one to map, and one to mend. The reader lingers in lines such as “sometimes, people make mistakes,” and stops at the powerful, one word question: “Explain?” The poem opens up at the end, even as it closes, with these hopeful words: “Swan, books, fish, sky = / small, green place./ this way/ Earth. This poem is a gentle and poignant invitation to re-engage with the small, still-green place we call home.”
First place in the under 18 age category for blackout poetry
Coming in first place in the under 18 age category is Emma Ciona’s “One Stitch at a Time.” From Brantford, Ontario, Emma created her blackout poetry digitally.
“When I read the theme “Map and Mend,” I immediately thought about mending as in sewing fabric that has ripped back together. This got me thinking about a patchwork quilt, which was ultimately what inspired the design of this poem. The page itself has been partially filled in to look like an in-progress quilt of earth. The stitched lines connecting the words resemble a path marked out on a map, leading you to where to look next. In this poem, mending the world is a group effort, and each person is helping to further the task and not completing it all on their own.”
de Waal responds to Ciona’s piece: “”One Stitch at a Time” layers text, colour, line, and truth in one stunning image that makes the reader want to stay and look a little slower for a little longer. In the image of a torn quilt and a broken world, the coloured fragments are also reminiscent of stained glass; the poem becomes also a window, a picture, and a reflection. The work makes you stop and look outwards and inwards. It invites a reexamination of how it will “take all of [us] to mend [our] world.” The stitches wend their way from word to word, mapping and mending as they go. The poem says “things are about to get better at last.” Are they? Can they? How? The poet invites hopeful questions, and invokes both a personal and communal response. At its best, black-out poetry is at once a literary and visual work of art–and this poem is unquestioningly both. We are left wondering what stitch is next, and how we might belong to the next bit of mending.”
Honourable mentions for visual art
First honourable mention goes to Wietze Adema of Grand Rapids MI for “Hope as we plod through the pandemic.” Langbroek’s response: “This artist went to nature for reflection and meaning. He is asking the question and wondering how our cultural madness and political malaise is connected to the present pandemics and storms in nature. One of his answers is that God has created nature with miracles both large and microscopic.”
Our second honourable mention goes to Amanda Brennan of Lititz, PA, for “Map and Mend.” Brennan describes her piece of art, “Patchwork backdrop of the colorful map of skin tones around the world, all canvases stretched over red beating hearts still mending from a global crisis.” Langbroek adds, “The global crisis is strongly visualized in this painting, the earth is dark and foreboding as are the faces. I miss a glimmer or even a burst of light.”
And third honourable mention goes to Violet Nesdoly of Langley, BC for “Church Community Garden”. Nesdoly’s artist statement reads: “This summer our church’s community outreach coordinator inspired volunteers to build a community garden right on church property… A garden mends hunger, even as it maps a Kingdom of God lifestyle of care, cooperation, cultivation, harvest, and so much more—all things a healthy church does too!”
Thank you to all the participants, judges, artists, musicians, writers & sponsors for sharing your time and artistic creativity with our community!
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