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Wichita artist invites local collaboration for Bethel installation

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – As she considered the visual arts aspect of Bethel College’s Worship and the Arts Symposium, Rachel Epp Buller thought of Ann Resnick.

Epp Buller, assistant professor of art, schedules the exhibits for the college’s Fine Arts Center Gallery. The biennial symposium, which takes place on campus Nov. 16, will be centered on exploring how cultural realities influence Christian practices of marking life transitions.

Epp Buller knew that Resnick’s recent art has explored “memories and rituals around the end of life.” Resnick’s exhibit that will open at Bethel Nov. 1 is titled “Inconsolable” and will include work focused on “themes of commemoration and renewal.”

Resnick is also collaborating with local residents to create one of the major pieces for that exhibit.

Sept. 7 and 11, Resnick held paper-cutting workshops in North Newton with interested residents of Kidron Bethel Village’s independent living, assisted living and health-care facilities.

“For You” will be a three-dimensional installation, similar to others Resnick has done, of flowers created from circles of paper cut out of magazines, attached directly to a wall.

 “I see flowers as tributes, used in memory of friends and loved ones,” Resnick told her Sept. 11 group. “I have used them in a number of installations. I work with paper, both burned and cut, and plastic.”

She went on to explain her interest in the “language of flowers,” common in Victorian times. Different flowers and colors of flowers were used to create hidden messages, perhaps of a romance between two people or feelings about someone who had died.

Resnick was intrigued, she said, by “the idea that flowers could be a language.” She tends to use zinnias in her installations, she said, because of their meaning: “thoughts of absent friends.”

“I live in Kansas now,” she said, “but I’m from upstate New York, with scattered friends and family.”

Resnick and her assistant, Wichita artist Rebecca Hoyer, led the Kidron Bethel groups in cutting four different sizes of circles from magazines, making the circles look more like flower petals and attaching them together with florist wire.

“They don’t have to be botanically correct,” Resnick said. “They’re supposed to suggest ‘flower.’ You know you’re not looking at ‘horse,’ for example.”

Resnick is a printmaker, installation artist and arts advocate who for 10 years operated the Project Gallery out of a warehouse in Wichita, showcasing the work of local artists from around the country. She has a long history of exhibitions stretching from Maine to New Mexico to Japan.

Her exhibit “Inconsolable” will be one part of the day-long Worship and the Arts Symposium, called “Accompany Them with Singing.”

The day will include plenary sessions with the main resource people, Thomas G. Long of Candler School of Theology, Emory University, Atlanta, and John Ferguson of St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn., workshops and an evening worship service featuring the Bethel College Concert Choir and a combined choir from area churches.

Resnick will give a presentation on her exhibit as part of the day’s events. For a complete schedule and to register online, see www.bethelks.edu/worshiparts, or call 316-284-5250 for more information.

The Worship and the Arts Symposium is made possible by the Reimer-Boese Worship and the Arts Endowment and the Lucille Graber Estate.

Bethel College is the only private, liberal arts college in Kansas listed in the 2013-14 Forbes.com analysis of top colleges and universities in the United States, and is the highest-ranked Kansas college in the Washington Monthly annual college guide for 2013-14. The four-year liberal arts college is affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. For more information, see www.bethelks.edu.

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