100 years is a big milestone, worthy of some extravagant art-making. I am honored to be one of five artists commissioned as part of the Centennial celebrations of my alma mater Eastern Mennonite University in 2017. We are each tasked with creating 100 ten-inch-square works (10x10x100) reflecting on some aspect of the University’s history, daily life, mission or vision for the future.
I have translated a beloved Mennonite hymn, fondly known as “606” after its number in an old Mennonite hymnal, into a series of 100 ten-inch-square paintings. The artwork captures the spirit of Mennonites’ traditional four-part a cappella singing — a throw-back to a time when instruments were considered too “worldly.” Collectively, the paintings represent the entire hymn, displaying the interweaving of the four voice parts; individually, the paintings stand alone as studies of color and texture. In each painting, the colors correspond with the notes on the scale, and the rectangles/stripes match the rhythm. Certain words that repeat throughout the hymn have special patterns. The layering and irregularity of color highlights the variation of voices singing together.
Metaphorically, the project speaks to a worldview in which distinct voices following different lines of music create a powerful and inspiring whole. This “four-part worldview” embraces diversity, listens to and draws out marginalized voices, and acknowledges that no single part holds all the answers.
LISTEN to a huge group of Mennonites sing hymn #606.
READ about the other artists’ commissions.
VIEW all 100 paintings.