Arts on Friday
From the darkness into the light, from despair to hope, an exhibition of paintings at a Palmerston North church will celebrate triumph over the terror of domestic violence.
Manawatu artist Karen McIntyre, in her first year of a Masters of Maori Visual Art at Massey University, has 12 works in a series called Passage at St Andrew's in the City Presbyterian church, until December 5. The works are part of her Masters project; she'll write the thesis next year.
Domestic violence and its detrimental effects on families are themes close to McIntyre's heart, and she's used her paintings to express how she feels about it. The works start dark, very grim, and progress through a journey of hope and love to peace and light. They're hung in sequence in the church; dark near the door, progressing through increasing levels of hope to peace and love near the altar.
Her colour palette expresses the journey.
"In the early works, the orange is angry and the blue dark and sad, used with lots of darks. As the series progresses, the orange becomes energy, driving the healing. There's light and white for peace," she says.
One of her images is a bird, pinned to a clothesline. The message is hardhitting: No freedom to fly, entrapment, confinement, no way to flee from danger or despair. The bird is controlled by an outside agency, and it's not happy about it. People might find the image disturbing, but so is domestic violence.
McIntyre says half the profits from the exhibition - works are for sale - will go to the White Ribbon campaign against family violence.
She says art has given her a voice to speak about an evil that harms our society; people bullying, hurting, controlling others.
"The paintings say what I can't express easily in words."
McIntyre grew up in the St Andrew's parish, and she saw the church as a culturally and spiritually safe place to exhibit her works. A Maori artist might perhaps choose to offer such an exhibition to the cultural and spiritual safety of a marae, she says.
St Mark's and St Andrew's minister Ken Wall says the messages of hope from despair embodied by the exhibition are absolutely appropriate for a church, and particularly so leading up to Christmas.
"Hope in the midst of brokenness, that's what the Christmas story is all about," he says.
McIntyre will formally open her exhibition on Tuesday, but his Sunday sermon will talk about her works, and how the messages in the Bible are as relevant today as they were when they were written.
"The gospels are about compassion . . . Jesus was extremely critical of people who were oppressing others, who bullied, or who used their power to oppress others."
The church also plans to mark the art exhibition with a service of New Zealand Christmas carols at 7.30pm on December 5. St Andrew's musical director Roy Tankersley and John Thornley, of Wesley Methodist Church, advised on the carols..
Passage isn't the first art exhibition in this church. Wall said another parishioner, Emma Pratt, created a series of works of the Twelve Stations of the Cross in 2005, and these still hang in the church today.
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