“Painting is the song of the heart”

This artwork embodies the innate human desire to create a personal, physical mark which holds our fragile identity in the strength of an intentional creative gesture.

Photo above: Hands at the “Cuevas de las Manos” in Santa Cruz Province, Argentina (Photo by Pablo Gimenez/WikimediaCommons)

By Jacquie Boughner

In the video on the L’Arche Canada Art Exhibition site, Jean Vanier says “Remember that painting is the song of the heart. What is important is that we contemplate and give thanks for the hearts of these men and women who have beautiful gifts. As we welcome the gift, we are welcoming those people who have done them.”

Jean VanierMessage from Jean Vanier

Like Jean’s personal discovery of the wisdom in these beautiful gifts, we are invited into an exhibition that engages us immediately with spontaneous creativity. This artwork offers us the gift of living in the moment. It embodies the innate human desire to create a personal, physical mark which holds our fragile identity in the strength of an intentional creative gesture. We all want to be known, to have our existence made visible. It’s the same inherent impulse found in early human handprints in the Lascaux caves or the recent AI digital images sold at an international auction.

What makes this art so easily approachable and appealing? This can be a confusing intellectual dilemma, “Why do I have such a strong attraction and personal connection to these seemingly uncomplicated artworks?”

This exhibition invites us to explore other ways of knowing, seeing the world, and expressing what it means to be human.

These are mature works with deeply felt intuition and life experiences, often expressed with sophisticated design and colour choices. It is an intuitive way of knowing about the potential and promise of creativity in being human, and in our own access to that gift. This is a wisdom that simultaneously confounds the head and affirms the heart, producing a sense of well-being, of freedom and liberation within us.

Sans titrePainting: Sans titre, by Céline Pépin of L’Arche Mauricie

We see and feel in this art a brilliant flash, the spark of creativity, which speaks directly to our heart and body. We experience the sensation and emotion of it being life-giving and nourishing to our spirit. Art is completed in the viewer. In this reciprocal, creative interaction is an act of relationship that by its very nature is one of hope and trust in the future.

In our response to this artwork, we are confirmed in the gift of our own life and talents by the insights and generosity of these artists.

Jacquie Boughner

Jacquie Boughner has been involved with L'Arche for 25 years as a friend and board member of L'Arche Daybreak and the L'Arche International Stewardship Board. She is a professional artist who has done curatorial work for public and private galleries, including several L'Arche art shows and on-line exhibitions.

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Beyond firefighters, medical staff, social workers and police officers, the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us that there are even more heroes among us. Truck drivers, grocery store clerks, cooks and couriers now rightfully hold an esteemed place in our collective consciousness as they put their health at risk to keep society functioning.

From Hyderabad to Lethbridge Who Would’ve Thought?

After Roop Chittineni finished high school in his hometown of Hyderabad, India he moved to Southern Ontario to pursue a degree in Kinesiology at the University of Waterloo. He liked exercising and thought that if he learned more about the human body he could use that knowledge to elevate everyone’s life experience.

Memory Box: Pinewood Floorboards

What does a set of 1940s floorboards have to teach us about COVID living?

Stepping Up

When Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer stated that non-medical masks limit the transmission of COVID-19, L’Arche Saskatoon’s artsy residents also got to work. Out came the fabrics, scissors, thread and needles. Brock wanted to contribute using two of his greatest assets: his feet.

A Light Ahead

The social distancing caused by the pandemic has been trying. Thankfully, aside from those who have donated their time, money and ingenuity to help L’Arche, there are the health care workers, grocery store clerks and all those on the front line who are helping the L’Arche community get through this crisis. With their help, it won’t be long until the Gathering Place opens again and the community starts making new memories.

Second Life

Kris first met Joanna in L’Arche London, Ontario. She encouraged Kris to join L’Arche, and he did. They lived and worked side-by-side for six years until Kris moved to Nova Scotia. Still, they managed to see each other a few times a year and occasionally called one another about matters of life and faith. But this call was different.

The Gift of Dance

Dance is a profound gift; it’s an artistic expression, a mood enhancer, a workout, a surefire way to impress a date and a form of magic. A dancer can transform into a flower, a lion or their favourite pop star. Above all, dance is an act of joy. (We dare you to wiggle around for a minute and not feel happier than you were before.) The gift of dance, and all it provides, has found its way into L’Arche.

Life’s Tough Obstacles

It was late June. A park in Edmonton had been reserved. Food was stacked on picnic tables. Local students of all ages were dressed in taekwondo uniforms, preparing for their annual Break-a-thon. The Break-a-thon is an innovative fundraiser where martial arts students showcase their skills by breaking boards. For each broken board, donations are pledged and raised for L’Arche.

Taking our place in the inclusion movement

It is an important time for the accessibility and inclusion movement in Canada and the world, and L’Arche Canada is developing our capacity to take our place.

Silent encounter with the “man who repairs women”

Denis Mukwege begs us empathetically to remain attentive, to listen deeply to what is inherent in our human condition: our sensitivity and vulnerability.