I love art. I think beauty matters. Images, words and colour shape our imagination. So when Rachel, Jamie and I started talking about plans for this coming year, I knew it would be important to include art in the conversation.
As we planned, the theme of inclusion emerged as an important one for our community at this time. Making sure that kids feel welcome. That LGBT* people feel welcome. That our language reflects a big and expansive view of God. When we looked at our liturgy cards, it was clear that this was an opportunity to speak inclusion and welcome in the visual symbols we use in worship. First, some of our language was outdated and non-inclusive; also the stylized, hand-written font was illegible for many of us.
Four of us gathered in November to discuss the potential for this project. It was a perfect grouping: Janell Loewen (a graphic designer), Sarah Hodges-Kolisnyk (a photographer), Lola Eidse (the artist who did many of the original cards) and Kalyn Falk (who likes to project manage.) We decided we wanted to start fresh, with a commitment to beauty, inclusivity and faithfulness to liturgy as our top goals.
When we looked at the original menus, we recognized that the most powerful invitation on the front was “Come to the table” and we wanted to highlight the simplicity of that invitation with Sarah’s iconic photo of a bowl of wine being offered to the viewer (the bowl having been created by Kathleen Estey, a member of our congregation.) We also saw that the back wasn’t being used, so we moved all of the information (a helpful resource, but not part of worship) to the back. This allowed the inside to make space for a double page spread.
Our hope in the inside design is to create enough space to get a feel for the particular liturgical season, set the tone, and provide the necessary text so people could join in as comfortable.
The quotes are there to add to liturgy, with a mindfulness to include a variety of voices: female, male, pragmatic, poetic, theological.
We also wanted to make sure that the visuals felt new and exciting (new art is being commissioned for each season; the addition of photography and digital art is delightful for us) but also paid homage to the images our community has held over our 12 year history: Sarah’s photos are tied to the website, our lived experience of worship and her show last year; the drop cap alphabet was designed and used for our Book of Hours “Beautiful Mercy” by many artists now gone (including Helen Lyons); Lola’s voice as an artist and her style, which shaped our worship experience over the last 12 years. A few of the letters from the Book of Hours project hadn’t aged as successfully as others, so Andrea Shalay, a member of the Artist Network, re-painted and redesigned some of them for us. Janell has now digitized them and can manipulate the colours to match each season.
Lola (Christmastide) and Tiffany Munro, our current Artist in Residence (Epiphanytide) have both completed a season and will include a brief reflection of their process in due time; each artist is being asked to write a description of their art over the course of the next year.
Christmastide always uses a stand alone, double-sided card because it is such a short season, but when Epiphanytide loomed, it became obvious that it would be a little more work to get the menus up to speed. Not only did we need to replace all four panels, we also wanted to sanitize the menus (which had not been wiped down for 12 years!) and remove the stickers that had found their way onto a quarter of the menus. We also had to wipe out the inside of each pocket, as the original covers had left a full dusting of ink over the last decade.
We had a wine, cheese and work party before Epiphanytide, where 7 people spent 2 full hours working on preparing the menus. Thanks to Barb Beaupré (who, along with Jamie, has spent the last 12 years changing all the menus each season), Karen Merkel-Kopp, Keri Wizbicki, Samantha Peters, Jaylene Johnson and Jamie.
After two hours, we were about half way through (though mercifully, completely finished the stickers) so additional thanks go to Noah Falk, David Falk, and Noah’s respite worker Brittany for finishing the job with me.
I don’t know if all of you are as fascinated as me by the process of creating art, but hopefully you can catch a sense of the thinking behind our project and the amount of people who have collaborated on it. We also want to thank Regehrs Printing for being a fast, dependable and local printing business who has been a great partner.
Many of you have asked what to expect for next steps, and would you believe – I have them!
- Finish liturgical year for menus
- Compile old menu cards and offer them for sale (just to cover printing) for the congregation’s nostalgic purposes.
- Redesign new cards for sale (they will need to have saint ben’s name on them and be printed as double-sided cards)
- Develop cards for the congregation with our Table Invitation, and other prayers for personal use
We are excited about next steps but are pacing ourselves to preserve our volunteers and honour the time allotment that I’ve been given to work on this. We so appreciate your feedback and enthusiasm; we can’t wait for all of these collaborations to come to fruition.