Tension and Transformation: The Themes Fuelling Redeemer’s Upcoming Art Show

Elise Arsanault | Reporter

Beer bottles are emptied, glass is stained and a halo is secured about the ears of one sketched goat. Art students Chrisy Hurn, Alicia Hampton and Rebecca Vink finalize the art series to be featured at Redeemer’s showcase in December. I spoke with Chrisy and Alicia last week, hearing firsthand about the muses, media and heart behind their creations.

 Chrisy Hurn’s series, The Paradox of the Table, derives from Matthew 25:32-33. “Jesus separated the goats from the sheep,” she explains, “it is through these pieces that I am asking myself ‘am I a goat or a sheep?’” Having sculpted, drawn, painted, cut and pasted her response to this question, Chrisy admits its introspective nature but stresses its relevance to believers as a community: “We all have our sins and struggles; we all have the stuff that we suck at, but Christ still calls us to meet together as a body, to drink the blood and eat the bread together and remember what Christ has done for us.”

 She contemplates this perpetual conflict, found in ourselves and in Christians as a body: “It is about the paradox and the tensions within my own Christian faith, but also those arising from being broken people and living in a community with other broken people.”

 After unpacking this theme for a year or so, Chrisy sees its potential to resonate with everyone. “We have all dealt with these questions in one way or another. My hope is for people to connect with that experience, recognize those questions within themselves, and take them home.”

 Lastly, Chrisy mentions two things. The first, a shout-out to a friend’s band, Medicine Hat, who will be performing that evening. The second, a reminder to not only question the art but also enjoy it. “I also just want people to like the art, and to appreciate the aesthetics of it!” she says, “because, in the beginning, my love for art came from the perspective of loving art for arts sake.”

 Chrisy Hurn at work on one piece from  Paradox at the Table .

Chrisy Hurn at work on one piece from Paradox at the Table.

 Rebecca Vink’s Tarnished Portraits makes use of old and corroded pieces of jewelry, wire and chain to form the features and contours of faces. Tarnished bits are used to symbolize a union between our past and present. “Our past can be something we tend to run away from, for we are often ashamed or resentful of it,” says Rebecca, “we are embarrassed to have it show us battered and bleeding – something we’d rather hide from.” We are not to fear our own vulnerability, for “there is something beautiful about exposing ourselves, laying in brokenness, because somehow we get back up.”

 Where wire meets canvas, mess meets masterpiece in this powerful series. It’s in the colliding of past and present, Rebecca believes, that our character is built strongest. “It is our tarnished past that helps piece us together into our present selves. Our past has a purpose: to bring both inspiration and knowledge.”

 A work from Rebecca Vink's  Tarnished Portraits.

A work from Rebecca Vink's Tarnished Portraits.

 Alicia Hampton’s four art pieces are based on John 12:1-8. In this passage, a dinner is held in honour of Jesus, and Mary anoints Jesus’ feet with expensive perfume. This action becomes more profound upon realizing that, as Alicia says, “in order to open and to pour from the jar, you first have to break the top off.” Alicia interprets this symbol in light of walking in faith, saying, “as Christians we encounter suffering and brokenness, but we have to be broken in order to let our colour out and bless people around us.”

 With emphasis on our becoming new creations in Christ, Alicia’s four pieces carry the viewer through a transformation they are to bear in fear and wonder. Sculpture and stained glass are her mediums for this story, beginning with the depiction of humans as self-focused. Seasons come when we think we are perfect. We hold our colours within us, and so we’re unable to pour into one another’s lives. Then, with excitement in her voice, she says that when we are “cracked open, vulnerable, we can then be rebuilt and refilled with the Holy Spirit. Pure joy is said to come when we are changed, for then we are able to pour our colourful blessings unto others.”

When asked with what thought her viewers should be left, Alicia’s words come with sincerity: “Sometimes, fear of suffering and brokenness hinders us from blessing others. But it can be a gift; God allows us to be broken in order to heal us from it and further His kingdom through it.”

  Artpiece by by Alicia Hampton.

Artpiece by by Alicia Hampton.

I hope this picking-of-the-artistic-brain stirs a curiosity that brings you to the exhibition, which is held in Redeemer’s Art Gallery on December 6th. It is also with said hope that I leave the mention of beer bottles, glass and goats unexplained, for I entrust you with their interpretation. Let us, then, “appreciate art for art’s sake” while still pondering the skill and creativity with which our own lives have been shaped.