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Issue #53 | July 1, 2004


Artist of the Month: Alfonse Borysewicz
Disarmament by John Terpstra
Spotlight on Taproot Theatre Company
Wonderful and Dark Is this Road by Emilie Griffin
To End All Wars Out on DVD: Just Get It

Message Board
Realizing the Sacred. Through Participation in the Arts
Fourth Annual Oneiros Press Poetry Contest
Epiphanies of Beauty: The Arts in a Post-Christian Culture

The SPU MFA: It's Official
The 2004-5 Milton Center Fellow: Linda Wendling
Subscribe to Image online
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Artist Alfonse Borysewicz

ImageArtist of the Month: Alfonse Borysewicz
Alfonse Borysewicz makes paintings that yoke the austerity of near-abstraction with an underlying sense of beauty and grace. For many of us, his painting "Ash Wednesday," which was the cover art for Image's special 9/11 issue, was both a prophetic and a consoling work at a painful historical moment. Its cluster of black smudges, some morphing into crosses, against a background of shimmering gold, struck some viewers as the perfect embodiment of what the great Catholic philosopher Unamuno called "the tragic sense of life." Borysewicz is highly regarded in the New York art world, no mean feat for someone who has become more public about his faith. But that kind of integrity under pressure is what those who know him have come to expect from Alfonse Borysewicz. In his personal essay in Image he writes of his work: "Its struggles are historically Christian ones: living in the tension between the already and not yet; the encompassing breadth of the Spirit that brings joy and comfort; the immensity of sin; and Holy Mother Church which sustains."

To go to the Artist of the Month page on Alfonse Borysewicz, click here.

ImageDisarmament by John Terpstra
John Terpstra is a Canadian poet and a frequent contributor to Image. By instinct he is a narrative poet, a writer whose diction is spare, colloquial, even conversational. And yet, as is the way with poetry, the words accrete meaning, add up to more than the sum of the linguistic parts. So, too, with the emotional freight in these poems: each poem gathers slowly into a weightiness that leaves a lingering impression on the memory. A perfect example would be the title poem, "Disarmament," which we published in Image. Here Terpstra creates several metaphor layers: not only the large political and ethical issues raised by war but more local conflicts in an apartment building. As the narrative builds, it is punctuated by lines that crystallize all that has gone before: "Our lives run through our fingers like water.... The war is never elsewhere." And the wrenching conclusion: "Come, love / Disarm us." Terpstra's poetry is wise without the slightest shred of self-consciousness; the wisdom present here comes through experience; it is not proclaimed, but lived in and through language. This is a poet you will not so much want to read as dwell with. By the way, this book is published by Gaspereau Press, a wonderful literary publisher based in Nova Scotia. In an age of computer screens and cheap paper, it's sheer sensual pleasure to experience the way Gaspereau presents Disarmament. From the texture of the paper to the beauty of the typeface to the final colophon, this is the medium in which word and reader should meet.

Go to the publisher's page on Disarmament here.

Terpstra was featured as an Image Artist of the Month here.

ImageSpotlight on Taproot Theatre Company
Here's a question for you: where in Seattle can you find a pierced-tattooed guy and a grandma sitting next to each other, laughing over the same thing? If you're Scott Nolte, you might answer Taproot Theatre Company, and you would be correct. In 1976, Scott Nolte and his wife, Pam, founded Taproot Theatre Company in a city that could boast a phenomenal interest in the performing arts, film, and books...and the worst church attendance per capita among the nation's major cities. Scott comments, "Twenty-eight years later, I can't say that the scene has changed much at all - except that the expanse between 'churched and unchurched' and liberal and conservative seems wider and more divisive. I think that one of TTC's tasks is to bridge the gap." Part of TTC's reason for existence is "to explore the beauty and questions of life while bringing hope to our search for meaning." As a theatre with a biblical grounding, they're working to be both a crossroads and a presence. As such, their audiences reflect a wide spectrum of people. Scott says, "It's a God-calling to create theatre and nightly mini-community to reflect on and celebrate ideas, language, and emotion. It's also a responsibility to balance our pursuit of artistic quality and honesty with the process of how productions are nurtured and who we are as a cadre of believers, artists, technicians and administrators." Taproot's programming is described as "eclectic, challenging and fun." Opening July 9th is the 1999 Tony Award-winning revision of You're A Good Man Charlie Brown, followed by Much Ado About Nothing in September. Filling in the year are weekend performances by the Taproot Improv Comedy troupe, school year tours by the Road Company of social-issue plays, and a year round schedule of acting classes for youth and adults. In the coming months, we hope to spotlight similar regional theatre companies, such as Lamb's Players in San Diego.

For more info, visit

ImageWonderful and Dark Is this Road
Out this month is Emilie Griffin's new book on mysticism, Wonderful and Dark Is this Road: Discovering the Mystic Path (Paraclete). Griffin, author of a series of literate but accessible books on prayer, conversion, growing older, is exactly the person you'd want to have cover this topic. She writes neither for experts nor chowderheads, but straightforwardly and with true gentleness both toward her subject and her readers. If you've wanted to investigate the Christian mystical tradition and weren't sure where to start reading, this is a great place to begin. Griffin narrates its history from Paul's vision on the road to Damascus to twentieth-century figures like Simone Weil and Therese of Lisieux. She also touches on Jewish and Sufi mystics, charismatic apostles, Quakers and Shakers, and covers phenomenon like levitation, stigmata, and whirling dervishes, and the like, but her underlying point is that mysticism is not some exotic, kooky, distant phenomenon. Though mystics themselves are rare and strange (no watery claims from Griffin that we're all mystics), the thing they're experiencing-God's nearness-is all around us. Griffin draws on literature to make the mystical tangible, making use of poets like John of the Cross, George Herbert, Christina Rossetti, and novelists like Ron Hansen and Mark Salzman to put legs to ecstatic experience.

For more information on the book, click here.

To visit Emilie Griffin's Artist of the Month page, click here.

To End All Wars Out on DVD: Just Get It
[We ran the following review over a year ago when To End All Wars had an extremely limited theatrical release. Now it's out on DVD, so we wanted to remind you-all just how good it is. Rent it or buy it: you won't forget this story.]

ImageTo End All Wars is a film about redemption in the midst of suffering and forgiveness in the face of brutality. Based on the book written by Ernest Gordon, To End All Wars tells the true story of four allied prisoners of war and their struggle to find the grace to forgive in the most unlikely of places. It is World War II, and Ernest Gordon is one of several prisoners of war who are being held by enemy soldiers in Thailand. Forced by their captors to build a railroad through the Burmese jungle, these men are subjected to physical abuse, poor working conditions, and malnutrition. As they suffer daily, waiting without hope for deliverance, the film's narrator faces questions that will change his life: What is the proper response to injustice? Who is my neighbor? The film is unrelenting and honest in the brutality it portrays--and the result is a portrait of forgiveness that is all the more surprising and meaningful. The film includes glimpses of grace in the midst of the suffering. As the prisoners struggle to find hope in the face of persecution, Ernest and his allied prisoners of war start a school of the liberal arts. They rediscover dignity in literature, music, and the arts, and ultimately are saved from hopelessness through their care for each other. In their studies they begin to face the reality that hatred makes us all capable of brutality and none of us is far removed from the enemy. This naturally overflows in their actions as they alternate between the desire for justice and the command to show mercy to the enemy. Some of them want to kill their captors and flee; however, the example of one soldier who lays down his life daily for his brothers, and even for the one who betrays him, demonstrates the transforming power that can result from forgiveness. This portrait of forgiveness culminates in the final scene when the real Ernest Gordon and one of his former captors, Noguchi, reunite. Years after the war, they embrace in a deeply moving image of reconciliation.

To End All Wars was being funded and produced as a small, independent film. The cast, including Ciarán McMenamin, Kiefer Sutherland, and Robert Carlyle, deliver sensitive performances, each adding emotional pull to the telling of this true story. With a beautiful soundtrack and creative cinematography, the film not only takes you into the midst of the prison camp, but sensitively portrays the situation in such a way that these alternatively brutal and miraculous scenes provide unforgettable resonances with the viewer.

To go to the film's website, click here.




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Realizing the Sacred. Through Participation in the Arts
Sometimes artists are still observers, watching and seeing the interaction between people, things, and ideas. Sometimes artists are active participants in the struggle, wrestling with ideas and media and themselves. From October 1-4, 2004, Realizing the Sacred. Through Participation in the Arts will offer focused study for individual spiritual growth in Painting, Drama, and Musical Composition. Using the Old Testament stories of Jacob, participants will work to make the sacred real in their art, to realize their struggle with the sacred and to realize that their struggles are sacred. Instructors include Erica Grimm-Vance (Figurative Painting, Encaustic Technique), Jan Mittelstaedt (Computer-generated Musical Composition), Jane VanBoskirk (Creative Drama), and Lynn Miller (Pastor, Retreat Leader, Ecclesiastical Designer). Retreat participants will meet with Miller in the mornings for leadership and devotions, attend workshops throughout the day, and will gather in the evenings for special programming including dramatic readings and musical performances. There will be a special time for participants to share their individual work. This event will take place at the Menucha Retreat and Conference Grounds in Corbett, OR, and is sponsored by First Presbyterian Church of Portland, OR. Deadline for registration is September 1, 2004, or until all spots are filled. Registration is limited to 15 persons per workshop. To reserve your space, send non-refundable deposit check for $100 to: First Presbyterian Church, c/o Candace Primack, 1200 SW Alder Street, Portland, OR, 97205. Detailed information will be sent upon registration. Costs include all meals, lodging, and workshop fees.

For more information on the retreat, including accommodation costs, email Candace Primack at [email protected] or call First Presbyterian Church at (503) 228-7331.

Fourth Annual Oneiros Press Poetry Contest
Oneiros Press announces its Fourth Annual Poetry Contest! Previously published poems are acceptable; under 30 lines. $5 for the first three poems, $1 for each additional poem. Make checks out to Stephen Frech, and mail the materials to: Stephen Frech, Oneiros Press, Department of English, Millikin University, Decatur, IL 62522. Michael Ondaatje will act as Judge for this year's contest. Deadline is June 30th, 2004. Limited edition, letterpress broadsides are included in special collections at the Beinecke Library at Yale University, the Newberry Library in Chicago, SUNY Buffalo's Poetry and Rare Book collection, and others. The broadsides are as follows: Ai Tormenta de Muerte: Hurricane Mitch, November, 1998 Series 3, Vol 1; Lawrence Ferlinghetti Deep Chess, Series 2, Vol 1; Albert Goldbarth In the X-Ray of the Sarcophagus of Ta-Pero, Series 1, Vol 1; Thea Kuticka Hurricane Linda Strikes the California Coastline, 2001 Winner Series 2, Vol 2; Jane Mead Lack, the Willow, Series 1, Vol 2; Barbara McGrath Shift, 2000 Winner Series 1, Vol 3. All are signed and numbered (in a run of 150) and sell for $50 per broadside.

Questions: [email protected]

Epiphanies of Beauty: The Arts in a Post-Christian Culture
From November 18-20, 2004, the Notre Dame Center for Ethics and Culture will present its fifth annual fall conference, to be held on the University of Notre Dame campus. The theme this year is Epiphanies of Beauty: The Arts in a Post-Christian Culture. Among the keynote speakers will be Gregory Wolfe, editor of Image. The conference will examine the variety of ways in which the fine arts can help build a more genuinely Christian civilization in an era that is increasingly post-Christian in its character. This conference will focus reflection on the fine arts and their place in a culture of life. The Center is especially interested in attracting to the conference as many working artists as possible, both to speak from their own experience as artists and to illustrate their commitment to their crafts through live performance and exhibition. The Center welcomes the submission of abstracts drawing on a wide range of moral and religious perspectives and academic specialties. Possible themes to be explored include art as cultural formation, the relationship between art and religion, the various Christian approaches to art, and many other topics which can be found on the conference website. One-page abstracts for individual papers should include name, affiliation, address, and e-mail address (if available). Session presentations will be limited to twenty minutes. Proposals for live performances, panel discussions and artist-meets-critics sessions are also encouraged. Deadline for submissions is July 30, 2004. Notification of acceptance will be mailed by August 31, 2004. Abstracts should be emailed to [email protected] or mailed to: Notre Dame Center for Ethics and Culture, Epiphanies of Beauty, 1047 Flanner Hall, Notre Dame, IN 46556.

For a complete list of themes to be explored and other conference information, click here.


The SPU MFA: It's Official
Our host institution, Seattle Pacific University, has officially approved a new, low-residency Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing. Image will be playing a central role in the program. For those of you who want to know more about the program: be patient. We are now putting together web pages, brochure copies, etc., etc. You'll be the first to know when that sort of thing is ready. In the meantime: please spread the word. Ours will be the only university-sponsored MFA that incorporates the Christian faith into the curriculum - a first in Christian higher education. If you know someone who might be interested in applying for the program - scheduled to begin with the first residency in August, 2005 - have them send an e-mail with their contact info to us: [email protected].

The 2004-5 Milton Center Fellow: Linda Wendling
The Milton Center @ IMAGE is pleased to award its 2004-5 postgraduate fellowship in writing to Linda Wendling of St. Louis, Missouri. With twenty applications this year, competition for the fellowship was particularly fierce. Wendling completed her B. A. in English, summa cum laude, from the University of Missouri in 1990. She has earned both an M. A. in English and an M. F. A. in Creative Writing from the University of Missouri in St. Louis. Wendling is a Best New Writers of the South winner, a Heartland Fiction Prize winner, and a Ploughshares "Emerging Writers" nominee. Her stories and novel excerpts have appeared in River Styx, Microfiction: An Anthology of Really Short Stories, and New Stories from the South: The Year's Best. Wendling currently teaches writing and editing courses at the University of Missouri, where she has been a faculty member for the past ten years. She has been an instructor at the St. Louis Writer's Workshop since 2000 and works as a writing coach and consultant. An active member of St. Louis Mennonite Fellowship and co-founder of the Mennonite group Flat Mountain, Linda has been involved in St. Louis life for many years. We are looking forward to welcoming her to Image and Seattle Pacific University this fall.

For more information on the Milton Center and its postgraduate fellowship, go to:

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Publisher: Gregory Wolfe
Editor: Brenna Thompson
Layout: James Williams
Contributors: Mary Kenagy, Brenna Thompson, Gregory Wolfe

ImageUpdate is the biweekly e-mail newsletter from Image, a quarterly print journal that explores the relationship between Judeo-Christian faith and art through contemporary fiction, poetry, painting, sculpture, architecture, film, music, and dance. Each issue also features interviews, memoirs, essays, and reviews.

ImageUpdate brings you news about books, CDs, organizations, websites, conferences, exhibitions, and tours—all of which inhabit the intersection between faith and imagination. ImageUpdate will also notify you whenever a new issue of Image is printed, an Image event is upcoming, or new content is posted to our website.

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Copyright © 2004 Center for Religious Humanism. All rights reserved.