Art Team commUNITY News
Seeking Parish Hall Artists
Art provides another medium through which human beings experience gifts of the spirit. Response to a work of art may be on intense, profound levels. As with poetry or literature, theatre, dance or music, the visual arts provide meditative and emotional opportunities and appreciation of life's process, our cultures and society.
Unity Church has gallery space for the showing of works of visual art. It is anticipated that these exhibitions provide spiritual enrichment and liveliness for those attending the church and its functions.
At the same time the gallery provides an opportunity for artists to show, share and sell their work.
Are you an artist?
Submit your work for consideration!
The Unity Church Art Team accepts applications each year during the months prior to May 1st of each year. The Art Team considers these applications in May and selects artists for monthly shows that will start in the following fall months.
If you would like to submit work for consideration, please read: Policies Parish Hall Artists 2019.
If you have questions, please contact the Unity Art Team at firstname.lastname@example.org
Click the image to read our 2019 Call for Art.
February 2020 Parish Hall Artist
Karen Weaving Circle
The Karen people are an indigenous ethnic minority from Burma and Thailand who have been persecuted by the Burmese military government for over 60 years. More than 17,000 Karen and other refugees from Burma now live in Minnesota, making it the largest Karen community in the U.S.
Karen people from Burma are known for their centuries-old tradition of weaving textiles using cotton thread and backstrap looms. The Karen Weaving Circle grew from a group of refugee women from Burma who wanted to continue their weaving traditions in Minnesota and pass their knowledge to first-generation youth. The Weaving Circle was established as a program of the Karen Organization of Minnesota in 2015 in partnership with Roseville Adult Learning Center, East Side Freedom Library, and the Weavers Guild of Minnesota, with primary funding from the Minnesota State Arts Board. Weaving Circle members meet weekly to weave together, teach classes for Karen youth, and sell textiles and demonstrate their craft at local events.
January 2020 Parish Hall Artist
I love to create!
Although I have done art since childhood, watercolor has been my medium of choice for the last 20 years. I have studied with several nationally known watercolor artists, have a studio in my home, and spend time with art almost every day.
My passion for art connects me to my other passions: the natural world, gardens, markets, food, and travel. My subject matter is mainly inspired by photos I have taken, whether strolling the Saint Paul Farmers Markets or traveling abroad. I recently worked on a series of paintings based on a volunteer experience in a hill tribes village in northern Thailand.
I am a signature member of NorthStar Watermedia and have served on the board as communications director for several years. I am also a member of Minnesota Watercolor Society.
Continuing to learn and grow, I take workshops and enjoy connecting with other artists. Although I enter shows, have won awards, and sell some paintings, I paint simply because I love it.
December Parish Hall Artist
Mano a Mano is a highly regarded partner organization with Unity Church that was founded twenty five years ago by congregation members Segundo and Joan Velasquez. It is a non-profit organization dedicated to partnering with impoverished Bolivian communities to improve health and increase economic well-being. It collaborates with Bolivian communities, municipal governments, and its counterpart organizations in Bolivia to build sustainable projects that improve quality of life for the long-term. All of these projects are more than just constructing a reservoir, well, road, or a building; there is a huge focus on training, education, and continuing community and government support to ensure that projects are used for their intended purpose and that the level of service remains high.
Paul Rogne is a hobbyist photographer who travelled to Bolivia in March and September 2019 on tours led by Mano a Mano. His documentary and artistic photographs from those trips constitute the majority of this exhibit. They show the people of Bolivia, rural and urban scenes, plus the work that Mano a Mano has been doing there. He would encourage anyone to take this same journey to Bolivia. It is an eye-opening transformative experience, one that participants will surely enjoy and be impacted by forever.
During the month of December Unity Church will host a Parish Hall exhibit of photos and other items along with programs — all focused on the work of Mano a Mano in Bolivia. In addition to the exhibit there will be events happening throughout the month that share information about and celebrate the work of Mano a Mano.
Mano a Mano Bolivian Arts and Crafts Sale
Sunday December 1 and 8 • After Sunday Services • Parish Hall
Transformation in Bolivia: Personal and National
Wellspring Wednesday, December 4 • 7:15 p.m. • Center Room
Hear from Paul Rogne and others who traveled to Bolivia this year and view many of the photos taken during those trips. The talk and discussion will focus on how the trips are a personally transformative experience for travelers and also how Bolivia is undergoing a noticeable transformation.
Mano a Mano Parish Hall Exhibit Reception
Friday, December 13 • 5:30-8:00 p.m. • Parish Hall
Meet Mano a Mano co-founders, Segundo and Joan Velasquez; exhibit photographer, Paul Rogne; and members of Mano a Mano staff and Unity's Mano a Mano ministry team. Enjoy light snacks, beverages, and a live performance of Bolivian music.
November Parish Hall Artist
Art is my way of expressing the beauty of the world. Even in difficult times, when I am painting I can still express my appreciation for the beauty and wonder around me. As writers use word to express their thoughts and observations, I use the wonderful colors and strokes of the paint brush to express mine. My art allows me to experience the physical beauty of sun on water, the majesty of a tree reaching to the sky, or early evening light bathing the earth in its glow. I see the world in a new and wondrous way.
My medium is watercolor which continues to challenge and inspire me. The process of painting in watercolor has an unpredictability that often sends me in directions I had not anticipated. In the last few years I have challenged myself to paint on new surfaces and with new materials that change the movement of the paint and the colors I can capture. Watercolor paints allow the colors I see in nature to flow onto the paper. Painting has made my everyday world come alive. My subject matter has been strongly influenced by the flora, fauna, and of course the waters of Minnesota.
I grew up in Michigan but lived the last 35 years in Minnesota, which has provided a nurturing environment for my development. The Minnesota Watercolor Society has introduced me to local and national artists that have influenced my work. I have come to art later in life and have found in it a way to express another facet of myself. I have been a member of the Outdoor Painters of Minnesota and done some plein air painting and exhibiting. Over the last 10 years my work has been in shows at the Arboretum, Ames Art Center, White Bear Lake Art Center, Sault St. Marie Art Center, Minnetonka Art Center, and many more.
October Parish Hall Artist
I have always been entranced by the natural world, and have been making nature-based art since I was a toddler. I have been doing papercuts since 1985, when my son was born, and the constant distraction of tending him made it difficult to do any form of artwork that involved drying time. I soon realized that papercutting was my true medium. Though every papercut during that first year fell apart in my hands after a single, injudicious cut, I kept practicing. After that first year, I began sending samples to publishing companies, and within a year had landed my first book contract, with Dover Publications, for a stencil book.
In 1994, I began writing and illustrating my own books: Slug Bread & Beheaded Thistles, (Broadway/Doubleday, 2000) Eat More Dirt, (Broadway/Doubleday, 2003) Organic Housekeeping, (Scribner, 2006) Green Barbarians, (Scribner, 2010).
In 2009, I began a year-long project in which I executed a papercut of the historical Buddha every day. Like every project I have ever taken on, this project was far more time-consuming than I had anticipated, yet it was a year of very peaceful meditation. As the year progressed, so did I, and I began to feel as if I was getting a handle on my medium. Though papercutting could be considered rather limiting, and even clumsy, I find its limitations a challenge, and tend to regard it as a game or a sport, as well as an art.
In 2019 I executed a series called "Endangered Chinese Zodiac." I was able to find an endangered representative for each animal in the zodiac. I try to make my work beautiful, as well as heart-wrenching; there is no reason that it should be easy to find so many endangered species which fit such an arbitrary category.
September Parish Hall Artist
Cynthia Starkweather-Nelson's work is about very specific times, spaces and places. She is currently focusing on three diverse ecosystems: the formidable harsh and beautiful Sonoran Desert; the fresh water biome of northern Wisconsin with the lakes and the prairies; and the temperate deep, lush rainforest of Washington State.
She finds unlimited beauty in these diverse landscapes and her paintings highlight what she finds. Capturing how light affects the forms and shapes in nature is important in her paintings. Is the form reflective or absorptive of the light? Reflections and shadows define the specific structures. Finding ways to express the depth, the presence or absence of water, and the relationships of color is key in the paintings.
Cynthia was born in Moline, IL, received a BFA in painting and drawing from Northern Illinois University (DeKalb, IL) followed by an MFA in printmaking at the University of Minnesota (Minneapolis, MN).
Upon graduation she was employed as the intaglio printer with Vermillion Editions in Minneapolis. She also taught painting, drawing, and printmaking at St. Thomas Academy in Mendota Heights, MN.
She has been a member of Unity Church since the 1980s, serving on many committees within the congregation. She has studios in northern Wisconsin and Tucson, AZ.
Her work is included in many collections including Prudential Insurance, 3M, Bank of America, Piper Jaffery, Hopwood, Inc., and General Mills.
August Parish Hall Artists
Kaye Frieberg is an abstract acrylic artist who attends the White Bear Unitarian Universalist Church and lives in Golden Valley. She is an experimental artist who uses a multi-layered approach to her painting. She primarily uses acrylics. Sometimes, hand painted papers, collage, ink and intuitive mark-making are added, as well. Paintings are abstract or semi-abstract.
Kaye is drawn to the mysterious — ancient cultures, unknown realities and the ambiguities of this world. She likes to leave her paintings open to interpretation by the viewer. It is important to her that the painting evoke a mood, a feeling or an emotion. Her goal is to capture a sense of mystery and do a painting that resonates with the viewer.
Weeya Michelle Smith
Weeya Michelle Smith grew up in the south where she experienced different cultural experiences. She grew up in a creative family who were puppeteers where her talents were used as a puppeteer and artist. As a young person, she was commissioned to create backdrops for theatrical shows for local churches in her area. She attended college and her work was in several shows throughout the community. After college she began her teaching career. Her art background help to develop her skills as an art teacher.
While teaching art to over 600 students a year, she was the featured artist in the Capital One Gallery in Washington, D.C. Her work was on display for a month and was seen by thousands of people. Two years ago, her artwork was used for The National Congress of American Indians Conference. The artwork, a painting titled "The Smoke Dancers" was later purchased and is currently on display at the Alabama Indian Affairs Commission in Montgomery, Alabama.
Currently, Weeya sits on the board of the Woodland Indian Art Show & Market. The Woodland Indian Art Show & Market is a non-profit organization created to expand the awareness and appreciation of Woodland Indian Arts and Culture through education, events and markets.
As an artist, I currently use watercolors in a nontraditional way by using the paint thickly throughout the piece and mounting the paper onto black canvas. Borders represent the rules that are placed upon us as humans. Each of my paintings have something crossing outside of the border to express what little freedoms we may experience without constraints. It is my small way of rebelling.
Art is an expression from the world surrounding the artist. Art is everywhere and for us artist, we create from our world, our experiences, from stories we have heard, from others experiences and the people we meet. The world is constantly evolving and so do we as artist. With every piece of work I create, I evolve. I am forever changing and growing. — Weeya Michelle Smith
June Parish Hall Artists
Life, Loss and Legacy
An Interfaith Exhibit of the he Jewish Women Artists’ Circle
The Jewish Women Artists’ Circle, which was launched in 2005, has become an interfaith group of artists. Our group selects spiritual themes, studies with scholars in the community, and creates artworks inspired by our studies.
The theme of “mortality” is intriguing for an interfaith group. Death and mourning are human and universal, but the rituals and theologies vary across religions. What we had not anticipated was how deeply personal this theme would become. Over the year or so that we studied together and created our art, all of us experienced the deaths of people we loved. The art that we have created on the theme of “Life, Loss and Legacy” comes from these experiences: life in the face of death, loss and its bitterness, and the legacies that we want to pass on.
May Parish Hall Artist
Maura Williams has been a member of Unity Church since 1981, and has enjoyed opportunities to share her artwork within this community over the years.
The May exhibit features oil pastel drawings and giclee prints from her series entitled Seeing Nature, which has fascinated her as an artist for the last eight years. She says about this series:
I try to highlight the extraordinary nature of ordinary outdoor scenes. We travel through some version of the natural environment every time we exit a human-made structure. We are probably aware of the seasonal variations, but how often do we look attentively at the specific expressions of natural life around us, which literally change continually? No matter the scale or season, all of nature always holds beauty — sometimes with delicate patterns or exuberant color, sometimes with fierce drama, sometimes in an almost colorless, subtle quietude. At times, we might need to seek out the beauty. I want to zero-in on these moments, to recreate an intimately defined field of vision that suggests the intricacy, diversity, and brilliance inherent in each fleeting manifestation of the natural world.
Maura‘s work has been shown in a variety of public venues including galleries, juried and invitational shows, restaurants and night clubs, universities and churches. Her work is represented in corporate and private collections. In addition to making art, her passions include the lives and activities of family and friends, restorative justice peacemaking circles, spiritual growth through energy work, her lake cabin in the woods, biking, cooking, and reading.
April Parish Hall Artist
Joan G. Cox
Joan G. Cox, the April Parish Hall artist, was born in Connecticut and grew up in Chicago, but has called the Twin Cities home since her graduation from the University of Minnesota, where she majored in French and Art History. She later took studio arts courses at the University and at Hamline University over a period of five years.
She has maintained a studio in the Dow Building in Saint Paul for three decades. At first, figures and landscapes accounted for much of her work, fed by sabbaticals in England, France, and Italy. Several commissions to design stained glass windows led her into abstraction and non-representational work. She likes to experiment with a variety of materials.
Joan has shown at galleries in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Florida, Santa Fe, and Denver, as well as at The Plains Museum in Fargo, the Duluth Art Museum, the DeVos Museum in Michigan, and abroad in France, Ireland, and Italy. In 2016, she received the First Place Prize for Painting at the Minnesota State Fair.
Here's what Joan says about her art:
Rarely do I start a piece with a visual goal. Painting, for me, is an intuitive process involving emotion, imagination, judgment, and serendipitous chance, each playing a role on a journey of discovery.
The pieces in the Parish Hall represent several series done over the last several years. Informed by the natural world, they are fed by the experience of working out-of-doors for nearly half the year: summers in a tent near a lake in the north woods of Minnesota, winters under a shelter on a barrier island in southwest Florida.
March Parish Hall Artist
Caldie is a perpetual apprentice to the arts and to the beauty of life. Born is St. Paul,Minnesota, he began drawing and painting in his teens and enjoyed an early career as a self-taught musician. His captivation with nature prompted frequent canoe expeditions into the Canadian wilderness and his creative curiosity led him to design, own, and operate several upscale restaurants in the Midwest before engaging in a rewarding career as an architectural designer.
In 1999, Caldie was involved in a serious traffic accident that prompted him to re-evaluate his life’s purpose. After undergoing eight surgeries to restore a substantial loss of his vision, he sold his design practice, moved to Arizona, and dedicated himself to the mastery of his life-long passion for the fine arts.
Family and friends enticed this artist to return to Minnesota after nearly 20 years of residency in the Southwest, where his painting talents began to flourish. It was patience, keen focus and sheer determination that eventually distinguished this mostly self-taught artist as a master, and his art can now be found in collections all over the world. Traditional painting disciplines are sometimes combined with three-dimensional elements to express a more tantalizing and creative concept, always with a vigorous commitment toward composition. Adjusting to the change in climate, this artist offers several of his artistic expressions, during the month of March, as a way to introduce himself to the Unity Church community he now gratefully calls his own.
It seems that the preferred human experience is that of beauty and order. In my paintings, I attempt to employ these elements to lure the spectator away from the turbulence of their daily circumstance and offer them relief in a subtle narrative that can only be experienced in the hush of their emotional response.
February Parish Hall Artist
Steveboyyi Makubuya lives in Uganda. He doesn't know when he was born. Brought to a children's home at the age of around nine months, he grew up without the knowledge of his name, his parents, birthday, or even the presence of a family. When the orphanage closed its doors, Steven was 17, and he continued his life back on the streets, relying on his creativity and courage to survive daily obstacles. His artistic themes reflect a longing for family integrity, the constant struggle for survival, and evoke the raw essence of street life common throughout Africa. The spare spatial composition of his work allows the viewer to imagine the social milieu surrounding the central characters and provides an opportunity to thoughtfully walk along with them as they go about the common tasks of daily living. Steven is a child of Africa who has a strong desire to reach out to the world through his art, to help relieve suffering wherever possible, to remind us of the day-to-day struggle faced by countless people around the world, and also to provide us with the opportunity to see the possibility of finding hope, joy, peace, and true happiness despite our circumstances.
Steveboyyi was given the opportunity to visit the U.S. in 2017 and participate in his first ever solo exhibition. His stay was cut short due to unforeseen circumstances, and upon returning to Uganda, Steveboyyi lost the use of his eye. The work in this exhibit was created following his eye accident and passed through many hands to get to the U.S., given the lack of a formal mail system in Uganda. His exhibit is being handled by friend Moira Villiard from Duluth, MN.
January Parish Hall Artists
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