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Return to normal

Riopelle exhibit of bronzes and canvases
hidden for months behind a digital
interface; pixelated representations
longing for in-person encounter.
 
Surprise government opening of museums
with limited time slots available.
Join a cohort of the free
walking those familiar, high-ceilinged rooms.
 
Art gallery visit, not as imagined.
Running late with a warning in mind:
“Arrive 15 minutes early
or lose your visit.”
 
Rush through revolving doors and
up the sweeping staircase.
Sweaty behind a mask, fogged glasses,
more bodies than imagined. Too many.
The discomfort of proximity.
 
Wander distractedly past
expansive landscapes with
artist’s trademark palette knife strokes;
walk hesitatingly around bronze owls
both intricate and rough.
 
Escape, finally, to a tranquil basement gallery,
quiet with the works of Manuel Mathieu.
Solitude with its turquoise framing,
negative space of whiteness,
and a reclined, healing figure.
 
Ouroboros, an expansive installation
of hung fabric – layered and singed.
Fragile tunnel inviting us to a
future not yet conceived
or given.
 
Our longed-for return to normal
is by halting, awkward steps.

Author

  • Roland De Vries is Director of Pastoral Studies at The Presbyterian College, Montreal, and a Lecturer in the School of Religious Studies at McGill University. He teaches in a variety of areas including Missional Theology, Reformed Tradition, and Global Christianity. He also has a keen interest in explorations at the point of intersection between church and culture. Roland and his wife Rebecca live in Montreal with their three children.

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