WINNIPEG, Man. –The longstanding Mennonite tradition of sharing a friendship meal of soup and pie in a church basement has been captured by Altona artist, Margruite Krahn.
This whimsical, humorous painting is part of a travelling art exhibition opening at the Mennonite Heritage Village in Steinbach May 1-July 4. Opening ceremonies take place May 2 at 7 p.m.
The exhibit will be at the Mennonite Heritage Centre Gallery in Winnipeg November 20 - January 15, 2011 and then move to other locations throughout Canada.
Sponsored by the Mennonite Committee on Human Rights, the exhibition, Just Food: Right to Food from a Faith Perspective, features the artwork of seven Canadian artists and 12 international artists.
The exhibition is designed to raises questions on the right to food and responsibilities to end hunger from a human rights approach and a faith perspective, said Peter Rempel, executive director of Mennonite Central Committee Manitoba. He is also a member on the Mennonite Committee on Human Rights, a coalition of Mennonite organizations with interest in human rights.
“We want people to engage in this discussion,” said Rempel. “Where does the right-to- food approach mesh with sharing and generosity?”
Six Canadian artists were each teamed with two international artists to form six groupings of three artists per group, explained Ray Dirks, curator of the exhibit. Each group was given contemporary statements and Biblical text on food and asked to explore the intersection of these statements through art.
Bob Haverluck from Winnipeg, was commissioned to respond to the overall theme of the exhibit and also has artwork in the exhibit.
“Each artist took up the challenge to approach this subject in all seriousness,” said
Dirks. "The art allows unfiltered, unedited views from Canada and around the world, from various personal experiences, cultures and faiths. It creates a direct connection between the artists and viewers, regardless of language, other differences and distance.”
Krahn said as she had reflected on the text that had been assigned to her group-- Deuteronomy 14:28-29 and a statement from the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, General Comment 12--she had been inspired to “tackle it from a grassroots approach with humour.”
“What I want people to see in my paintings is that life can be simple and that food is a central part of creating healthy communities,” said Krahn.
Krahn’s second artwork was inspired by a visit to Zimbabwe where she met women who were part of a producer group that was weaving and selling hand-woven baskets to earn money for food and shelter.
Both paintings, she said, reflect how food is central to human life and how people work together to create healthy communities.
The exhibit includes the work of other artists like Jossias Sitoe who lived on the streets in Mozambique as a child and has first-hand experiences of pain and hunger, Winnipeg artist Ovid Charlette who discovered his artistic talents in prison, Tibebe Terffa who was imprisoned and tortured under the previous Mengistu dictatorship in Ethiopia and Hashim Hannoon, a refugee from Iraq who knows the affect war has on food production and security.
To encourage further reflection, the exhibit includes educational panels on food justice and how practicing food justice leads to a strong local food system, self-reliant communities and a healthy environment.
Suggestions for action include learning more about food security, buying fair trade, shopping at farmers’ markets, supporting food policy changes, speaking up about rights, eating healthy and wholesome food and sharing food.
The exhibit will include documents, photographs and artefacts depicting Mennonite efforts to alleviate hunger for themselves and for others in the past and in the present.
Some of the artwork will be available for sale at the end of the exhibit.
For more information visit mennosforhumanrights.org or contact Ray Dirks at firstname.lastname@example.org
or by phone at (204) 888 6781, extension 196.