SURROUNDED BY ART

Author: Karin Poellinger, Staff Writer/Technical Editor
May 29, 2018

The Church needs art. Thanks to the Pax Christi Art Committee, made up of both artists and non-artists, Pax Christi parishioners are surrounded by art. The committee has more than a dozen members who coordinate four art exhibits annually in Pax Christi’s Pacem in Terris Gallery.

Jean Allen is an Art Committee member who is also an artist.  Jean has been a Pax Christi parishioner for 10 years and Art Committee member for five years.  She joined the committee after exhibiting a piece in the Pax Christi parishioner art show, which is one of the four exhibits held each year. Jean, who is a former art teacher and special education teacher, works with both watercolors and acrylic paints, using a variety of subjects, including Madonna and Child.  The parishioner art show was an opportunity for Jean to get to know other artists in the community.  

Jean said that since part of the committee’s goal is to expose as many people as possible to art, a large part of the committee’s work is publicity.  Beyond internal communications which reach the Pax Christi Community, outside publications like the Catholic Spirit and the Star Tribune are used to reach non-parishioners. The exhibits are chosen based on the quality and interest of the art, not the subject, and the exhibits aren’t just about religious works.  Yet, when the subject matter is religious, Jean feels that art can greatly enhance a person’s perspective and understanding of the gospel. One of the exhibits she enjoyed the most featured Icon pieces, created locally in Stillwater.

Bridget Hauff is another committee member who is also an artist and an art teacher.  Like Jean, Bridget has exhibited her work in the parishioner art exhibit. Bridget recognized that a parish art committee was uncommon for most churches and that this was a unique opportunity—a good fit for her interests and the perfect way for her to give back to the community. When she first joined the committee, another member mentored her so that she would be prepared to provide leadership within the group. Today, Bridget plays a prominent role in the selection of artists for the exhibits. She noted that two artists she particularly enjoyed were Raynele Schneider and Kirsten Malcolm Berry—two of Pax Christi’s more recent exhibitors.

Bridget and the other committee members look for potential exhibits by reaching out to artists through attendance at art shows, word of mouth, and online research. They look for art that will have an impact on the community, but very often, the impact is also felt by the artist.  Bridget says, “The exhibits are also a way for artists to enter the Pax Christi community to see what we are all about.” Also, Pax Christi is a safe environment for Christian artists to showcase their work. An added bonus is that the space itself, the Pacem in Terris Gallery, gives artists a chance to see people viewing their art, make connections, and be present.

For parishioners, the exhibits are a way to see art in a meaningful way.  Unlike a large museum where visitors spend less than ten seconds looking at each piece, the gallery is a place to fully engage with the art. Bridget sees each exhibit as an opportunity for people to really look at colors and line, talk with a companion about the piece, and to make a human, emotional connection.  She adds that no matter what the exhibit, the shows are a way for people to appreciate artists’ skills and the attention that artists give to their craft.

Denise Price is someone who appreciates art, but for her, joining the art committee was also about community. Denise, who doesn’t have an art background, joined the Art Committee because she wanted to connect with other parishioners. This spring her involvement on the committee focused on the parishioner art exhibit. Denise was impressed by the artistic talent within the community and was struck by the variety of works submitted. She is also pleased with how the Art Committee has helped her form more connections within Pax Christi.

Jean Allen says that the committee welcomes the input of parishioners, as well as the opportunity to collaborate with other committees within Pax Christi. The art committee serves as an opportunity for artists and non-artists to nurture the community’s appreciation of art.

Written by Karin Poellinger, Staff Writer and Technical Editor
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12100 Pioneer Trail
Eden Prairie, MN 55347

952-941-3150

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