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First United Methodist Church features works that charm and inspire

This dispatch was added by one of our Nonprofit Neighbors. It does not represent the editorial voice of The Rapidian or Community Media Center.

The setting at United Methodist is lovely, and the works of Christina Vagenius and Jennifer Longfellow are compelling.
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First United Methodist Church 

Christina Vagenius The Gift: this site allows you to virturally 'flip' through the pages of Vagenius' book 

On her website Heart Box Studio, Vagenius blogs about the journey to ArtPrize

On her website Heart Box Studio, Vagenius blogs about the journey to ArtPrize /Heart Box Studio

By Leah Carroll, Hope College student


One venue in particular that must be experienced is the United Methodist Church located in the basement at 227 East Fulton Street. The architecture and the site of the church itself is quite a beautiful. Do not be discouraged if you cannot walk right in the front door: signs will instruct you to continue to walk to the back North end of the church to enter the venue. Once you enter the designated entrance, the 30-yard walk around the church to the back door doesn’t really matter anymore.

Inside, the silence is soothing, enhancing one's engagement artworks. As a church attendee, I found the setting of a church to be a meaningful and poignant space, and the selection of artists implies a similar reverence. While the site features 14 artists, two works at the venue were of particular interest.

Jennifer Longfellow’s piece, Still Standing, is a large 7’ x 5’ mixed media work consisting of photographic portraits transferred to canvas. Longfellow documented individuals holding framed photographs of a significant person who has died as a result of cancer. The center of the work consists of hand-written and typed notes from the survivors that form the shape of a cross. Reading the letters, it is clear the extent to which each victim of cancer touched those lives that they encountered. It is a fitting work for this setting.

In my opinion, the best piece in the venue is as challenging to find as the entrance. After viewing the artworks in the first floor hall, be sure to follow the arrows directing you to the basement. Given the location, it might seem as if it was added as an afterthought. The Gift by Christina Vagenius is a book structure, each “page” of which is a shadow box featuring images formed from intricately cut and layered paper. These are displayed on the walls lining the hall. If not taking the time to look closely at the work, the viewer may not see the prayers and thoughts that are written in the background or the delicately cut flowers that line the border. Vagenius’ layering is a metaphor for the complexity and concealed intricacies that comprise the individual person.

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