Saturday, May 21, 2011

Book launch and art show

Thanks to all of you who joined us yesterday (Thursday, May 19) for the Crux bookstore launch of Wendy's two books, Solovyov's Sophia as  a Nineteenth-Century Russian Appropriation of Dante's Beatrice  (2011), and The Feminine  Personification of Wisdom:  A Study of Homer's Penelope, Cappadocian Macrina, Boethius' Philosophia and  Dante's Beatrice  (2009), as well as the exhibit of Sharon’s artwork.

The two book covers

It was a wonderful occasion with friends, family, and a wider supportive community to cap the years of thought and writing which came to expression in these two books on feminine personification of wisdom. For those of you who could not join us at Crux Books, we want to give just a little indication of a lovely event.  

Melissa Kuipers and John Franklin

Books display

Doug Blomberg and Bob VanderVennen
As some of you may know, when we first planned this event in March, we hoped to do a combined event, to introduce Wendy's books, but also exhibit Sharon's work, particularly because she had done the illustrations for the book covers. She was in hospital at the time, but was able to work on a collage there, and she hoped to put together a new series, so that we would combine an art exhibit with the book launch. She was working on the theme of resurrection, of new life breaking through the bonds of earth and death.

The first major piece in Sharon's new series, Resurrection 2011: 
"At the crack of dawn"

Although she came home for much of April, her energy levels did not permit her to advance very far with that project. Just after Easter she went back to St. Michael's hospital with a major flare-up of her auto-immune condition (Wegener's granulomatosis). So an exhibit as she had hoped to give was out of the question. In fact, she emerged from ICU just a little more than a week before this event, and was in no shape even for any decision-making on what, if anything, to present for an exhibit of her work. At that point she turned to her good friend, the Toronto artist Sharon Tiessen, who took the time to review her recent work, and put together a small collection of pieces to help celebrate the occasion.

Jonah series

Two lilies and a  dragon tree plant

We appreciated the congenial atmosphere for discussion and socializing provided by Crux bookstore. The launch was held in Leonard Hall, a room which holds second-hand books and is also used for university lectures. Aside from snacks brought by friends, Crux had coffee, tea and cookies available, altogether making a great setting for the book discussion.

The room with several paintings

Wendy and Eleanor Irwin, a colleague at Scarborough College of the University of Toronto

John Franklin wore two hats this day, for he was both chair of the board of Christian Studies International, the organization with which we have served overseas these years, and executive director of Imago, a Christian organization that supports the arts. He began by introducing Imago as the context for his introduction of Sharon's work, and then briefly introduced CSI, as the context for Wendy's academic work, and more particularly the writing of the two books that were celebrated that day.

John Franklin with two posters
In her introduction to the books, Wendy spoke briefly on what motivated her to do this kind of writing, highlighting the experience of teaching in Russia, and encounters there with academic bureaucracy, as well as the experience of wonderfully warm friendships. She concluded by expressing the hope that her work might in some small way contribute to keeping alive the memory of Vladimir Solovyov as a scholar and writer with a broad vision for Russia on the world stage. 

Wendy with her two books

View of room and audience

Chaplain Brian Walsh and Marion Taylor of Wycliffe College

We want to thank all who came to help make this a day for celebration. And a special thanks goes to Sharon Tiessen, for without her preparation of the pieces, it would not have been possible to show Sharon’s work. She could not be there, but thanks to our David’s photography and video recording, Sharon has gotten a pretty good impression of how it went.   

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