‘Suffering to Hope’ Art Exhibit at Swedish Covenant

Post a Comment » Written on October 24th, 2008     
Filed under: News
CHICAGO, IL (October 24, 2008) – The woman had not been able to enter the chapel at Swedish Covenant Hospital (SCH) since her husband died.

“She did not understand how God could take away the father of her two young children,” says chaplain Kari Lindholm-Johnson.

A new art exhibit drew her to the chapel, however. Through Suffering to Hope gave her no answers. But, Lindholm-Johnson says, “The exhibit gave her a place to be able to express that grief.”

Pathway to HealingThe exhibit includes works by Covenanters; North Park University and Theological Seminary staff, faculty and students; as well as other neighboring artists. Many of the pieces draw upon the artists’ own experiences of grief. To see additional photos mentioned here, visit Through Suffering to Hope.

People expend a lot of energy trying to avoid dealing with their grief and suffering, yet never experience healing, says Lindholm-Johnson, who organized the exhibit. The hard but healing path is through the suffering, she adds.

“I wondered how we could possibly have the strength to do that,” she says. “Then I realized Christ has entered into all suffering for us.”

Art helps people experience that reality, Lindholm-Johnson suggests. The works in the SCH exhibit are as deeply personal as they are powerful.

“Icthus Swims the Sea of Tears,” a piece by Lindholm-Johnson, incorporates portions of the daily admittance sheets the chaplains use to arrange patient visits. “Without the grace of God, the lists are overwhelming in the declared suffering,” she writes in her accompanying artist remarks. The piece also includes beads that represent teardrops, and a fish swimming in the waters (representing tears).

“The fish has as its fins and tails part of the admit sheets because God, incarnated, entered into our world, into our suffering,” Lindholm-Johnson writes. “Through his death and resurrection, we have the promise that suffering never has the last word. With Christ’s help, we can swim in the tears and not drown.”

David Westerfield, art director with the Department of Communication of the Evangelical Covenant Church, submitted “Path in the Dune” (top photo). The painting was done especially for the show and reflects the journey to healing.

Tim Lowly, an assistant professor of art and the gallery director at North Park University, submitted two pieces, both inspired by his 22-year-old profoundly disabled daughter, Temma Day.

Battered Angel“TDL (Unfinished)” is the final sculpture of Temma in a series of five, all of different materials. The piece in the exhibit is made of Korean rice paper built up in many layers using acrylic as a binder.

The five sculptures initially were all displayed lying on the floor in previous exhibits. Its display on the chapel wall suggests her resurrection, “moving the emphatic sense of gravity of the lying sculptures towards something more transcendent,” Lowly writes.

He also contributed a woodcut entitled “Thoughts of God,” which includes the words of Psalm 139. In his accompanying notes, Lowly writes, “A nurse caring for a brain-damaged child once made the perhaps naïve analogy of the child’s perception of reality being like having a roll of film and only every fourth or sixth frame turns out. I suspect that we would be extremely fortunate if our odds were that good in perceiving the thoughts of God (Psalm 139).”

“Tortured Angel” (lower photo), an iron sculpture by Eric Palmquist, director of admissions at North Park Theological Seminary, “depicts an angel who, with tattered wings and twisted body, has been tormented by the unknown.”

“The striking image of a battered angel reveals that even the most pure are not immune to life’s trials,” Palmquist says. “By its very nature, life often tests and stretches our faith. These times of trials are sometimes profound and sometimes ordinary. Our solace is found in the communal knowledge that we are not alone in our suffering, but assured by our faith that even in our darkest moments we are cared for by God.”

North Park University student Julie Jane Capel’s “And How You Carried Me” recalls the darkest period of her life. “Death and depression were so oppressive that I had no power to move – but when I look back, I can see that I was moving on the right pathway. I was moving not in my own power, but because God had picked me up, put me on his shoulders and carried me.”

The exhibit, open and free to the public, continues through Sunday. The chapel is located near The Cove Gift Shop in the main building of the hospital.

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