Magazine article Anglican Journal

Art's Response: `Dum Spiro Spero'

Magazine article Anglican Journal

Art's Response: `Dum Spiro Spero'

Article excerpt

THOSE LATIN WORDS, "while I breathe, I hope" are the title of an art exhibition whose opening I recently participated in.

David Opheim, a priest I have known since his seminary days, has become, in recent years, a painter and sculptor of consequence. His exhibition, held in a Toronto church in January, consisted of 25 works, almost equally divided between painting and sculpture, all created in the four months between Sept. 9, 2001, and this January. The volume of work produced in so short a time is breathtaking.

Each work of art is accompanied by a meditation, but for me the title is also a rich source of meditation. In the foreword to the booklet accompanying the exhibition, I used these words:

"To reflect, in paint and sculpture and word, on the time following Sept. 11 is challenge enough, but to do so under the rubric of `hope' is to challenge radically the received wisdom of our time and of our political masters. David dares to do so as an echo of St. Paul's challenge that `in hope we were saved. Hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience' (Romans 8.24,25).

"The stark artistry and the simple words make it clear that this hope is nor chauvinistic bluster or superficial optimism. It is the hope of which Archbishop Desmond Tutu spoke in the worst days of apartheid: `I am not optimistic, I am hopeful.' I rejoice to share in this event, a sign of the power of ... an artist among us and a gift to an aching world. …

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