October 26, 2014
Invitations on the Journey: Wisdom from Elders
Patheos, 10/27/2014
Elizabeth Nordquist

Invitations on the Journey: Wisdom from Elders
Patheos, 10/27/2014
Elizabeth Nordquist

On my recent journey, I went nowhere without being reminded of the past–in the topography. in the architecture, in the celebration. A deep thread to my own roots was in the exhibit at the New Mexico Art Museum. Judy Chicago, a heroine of my younger adulthood, had an exhibit there, one part of which celebrated her own roots in the Exodus story of the deliverance from slavery, beginning with the journey through the Sea of Reeds. For me the centerpiece was her rendering of Miriam, breaking out in to song after successfully eluding the enemy and crossing on to dry land with the Power of the Holy One, leading and protecting. Miriam takes a timbrel and leads the women of her community to sing and dance their way into freedom. I heard Judy Chicago say at a book reading that she isn’t very observant of her own tradition, but in her art she does consider Miriam as a leader of the Exodus to be a wise woman that she claims as an ancestor. As do I!

In this sojourn I took, I mused on this question: what part of my ancestral spiritual tradition am I invited to hang on to, and what is no longer useful? I have been part of the Church my entire life, yet as an institution, as a community, as a phenomena in North American culture and other place in the world, its external expressions are changing. Music is different, preaching takes new shapes, mission is continually being redefined. What remains for someone like me whom has been formed in a different era, in another place? Chicago’s rendering of Miriam inspires me. After landing safe on the other side after the harrowing chase through muddy terrain, Miriam begins to praise the Holy One for what has just transpired. No longer in familiar territory, her first act is to pick up a tambourine to praise what she knows of the One who brought the community to the next step on the way to freedom: God has triumphed gloriously! she sings. I am challenged. Is my first thought when I am rescued to give thanks, even when I don’t know where I am or where I am going? Do I even notice when God triumphs gloriously in the lives and systems around me? Praise and thanksgiving to the Holy is something that will never go out of style, no matter if it is a song in the desert, a dance in downtown or a flash mob along the road.

Miriam leads the women of the community in the chant and in the dance. The women of the exodus community were not in the first line of leadership in the direction and leadership of the mighty adventure. But Miriam wants to make sure that they too are included in the celebration of praise. It is part of my present call to come alongside to encourage and reach out to those in the faith community who are not always included front and center–the one who worships alone, the one who finds that the predominantly masculine language and style in the Church is oppressive, the one who feels too beleaguered to get up and move to the rhythms of the Spirit. Sometimes what each of them cannot do alone, they can do with the friendship and encouragement of another. Miriam reminds me that the encouraging action and words also never grow old. No matter the style of community singing, no matter the form of the prayer responses, no matter the size of the gathering–I am called to identify with the gathered, to notice who feels marginalized, and to invite her to the dance.

I can’t imagine Miriam’s life. However, I understand all too well the struggles in being herself in leading the people of God that we see in her story in Leviticus. But she points me to those first principles of her faith tradition and mine: to glorify God and to care for the marginalized. the widowed, the orphaned, and the just plain sad. I will need to discern many other things as the Church changes, but I can be sure that Miriam has grounded me in the right place of beginning.

Thanks be to God!

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January 17, 2017
Globalocation: Celebrating 20 Years of Artnauts
J. Willard Marriott Library
The University of Utah, 01/17/2017

The University of Utah’s J. Willard Marriott Library will host the art exhibition Globalocation: Celebrating 20 Years of Artnauts, Jan. 20-March 3.

Artnauts, an art collective formed 20 years ago by George Rivera, professor of art and art history at the University of Colorado, Boulder, consists of 300 global artists who serve as goodwill ambassadors, acknowledging and supporting victims of oppression worldwide. Their creativity has generated over 230 exhibitions across five continents. Five faculty members from the U’s Department of Art and Art History are members of the collective, Sandy Brunvand, Beth Krensky, V. Kim Martinez, Brian Snapp and Xi Zhang.

Globalocation derives from “Globalocational Art” — a concept used by the Artnauts to refer to their exhibitions in international venues. It is the mission of the Artnauts to take art to places of contention, and this anniversary exhibition is a sample of places where they have been and themes they have addressed.

“The Artnauts could not exist without the commitment of the artists in the collective to a common vision of the transformative power of art,” said Rivera. “The Artnauts make their contribution with art that hopefully generates a dialogue with an international community on subjects that are sometimes difficult to raise.”

Krensky, associate department chair of the Art and Art History Department, had the opportunity to travel with Rivera in Chile as part of an Artnauts project, working with mothers who were searching for their children who had mysteriously disappeared during a time of political unrest.

“When I travelled to Chile in 1998, George and I spent an afternoon with the Mothers of the Disappeared, and the meeting changed my life,” said Krensky. “It was from that moment on that I placed a picture of them on my desk to look at every day. I was so moved by what they each had lost — a son, a brother, a father — and yet what remained for them was a deep, deep well of love. They were fierce warriors and stood up to the government to demand the whereabouts and information of the people who had disappeared, but they lived within profound love.”

The 20th anniversary exhibition at the Marriott Library is a retrospective of the traveling works the Artnauts have toured around the globe. The exhibition will be located on level three of the library. The opening reception is open to the public and will be held on Friday, Jan 20, 4-6 p.m. Rivera will speak at 4 p.m.

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