Artists Rachel Andrzejewski and Victoria Carpenter welcomed participants into a darkened sanctuary at Champlin United Methodist Church Friday night, March 1. With just a few sparse words, they provided a simple explanation into the interactive exhibit they called, “Engtangled/Untangled.”
However, the experience was anything but simple for those participating. The exhibit included dark elements and light elements. In the dark, there was a corner dressed with dark pieces of cloth that allowed participants to enter it, play with it or ponder its symbolism. There was also a candle display meant to allow participants to light a candle to represent their thoughts, fears, wishes or concerns. Lighting a candle while reflecting on these thoughts was meant to symbolize releasing them into the universe.
After experiencing the elements of dark, participants moved to the light which included what strips of fabric embellished with notes printed with thoughts, wishes and hopes of community members that were sent in to the artists to become part of the exhibit. Participants were encouraged to read these thoughts and to add their own. Other elements included in the light were vintage suitcases and furniture as well as jars filled with dirt, rocks, greenery and water symbolizing nature. There was even a birdcage and some origami.
During small group discussions, a relative of Andrzejewski’s commented on how much she appreciated the elements of nature, birding and fabric being utilized in the display as those are elements the artist was exposed to growing up.
“Her mother was a birder and she loved fabric,” said the relative. “It was heartwarming to see the themes expressed through Rachel’s viewpoint which has elements of her mother in it carried down another generation.”
That concept was the foundation of the exhibit as Andrzejewski described, “We are all entangled. We all have light and dark for there is light in all darkness and some darkness in all light.”
Others talked about how it felt to get tangled in the dark strips of fabric.
“At one point someone asked me if I wanted help and I said, ‘no, I can do it myself.’ That is an indication of how we sometimes look at our own struggles in life,” said the participant.
Still others were profoundly moved by the ideas of connectedness to others.
“Reading the thoughts and wishes of others printed out made me realize how similar we all can be at our core,” said another participant.
The exhibit was on display at the church throughout the first weekend of March culminating in an interfaith worship service Sunday, March 10, where leaders from various faiths reflected on the exhibit through their personal lens of faith.
The exhibit was sponsored by Northern Intercultural Spiritual Experiences (NISE).
Contact Mindy Mateuszczyk at [email protected]