A Lenten Journey

Patchwork Central has a long history of involvement in the arts. We also host worship services every Sunday evening at 5:15 pm. Throughout Patchwork’s history, these two elements have combined in the form of a Lenten Art Show. During the Christian season of Lent, an artist or artists will exhibit artwork in the Meetinghouse, adding a piece for each of the six Sundays of Lent in a spirit of mindfulness and reflection.

This year, I am the artist creating a Lenten Art Show. For each Sunday of Lent, I’ve created a shadow box containing an arrangement of items that I found on one of the city blocks between my home and Patchwork. In this way, the entire series represents a journey, and each Sunday of Lent has been another step along the way from my house to Patchwork. It fits with the idea of Lent being a journey accompanied by spiritual discipline, meditation, thoughtfulness, and prayer in the time between Ash Wednesday and Easter.

The act of walking through my neighborhood and collecting the items I find is an act of meditation. I must pause and look carefully at what I discover dropped on the sidewalk or in the street. I take my collection home, wash the items, look for their beauty, and arrange them so that other people will also consider them in new ways. Some people might consider the items I find to be trash and nothing more. For this series of artwork, I see them as evidence of the people who populate these streets and who pass through them. Each box is a prayer for the people and a prayer for the community.

The journey includes four blocks of Adams Avenue and three blocks of Washington Avenue. Adams Avenue is a smaller street with many children who play in the yards along it and teenagers who walk to their friends’ houses or corner stores for a snack, so I have found toys, food containers, and bright bits of plastic there. Washington Avenue is wide and full of cars, and the items I’ve found along it have included many mangled bits that have been run over many times. One block of Washington Avenue includes two bus stops, and the items I found there include parts from sunglasses, clothing tags, and food wrappers that would likely be dropped by people while they wait for the bus.

The kids in the Arts & Smarts program quickly noticed my artwork going up on the wall under big circle window, so Jane asked me to tell them more about the project. I explained that as I collect items from each block, I think about all the people who live along that block. One girl lives along Washington Avenue, and I explained that when I got to her block I would definitely be thinking of her as I found objects and arranged them within the shadowbox. Her eyes lit up at the thought that I would make art about the place where she lived and that I would think of her as I did it. She understood and connected with what I am trying to accomplish through this series.