A Walk, A Welcome, A Win
A walk in the sunshine is always an opportunity to see new things but it’s not every day that a walk leads to an art project. That’s exactly what happened when Connie, Patty and their caregivers, Lei and Vanessa, decided to visit the Reach Gallery Museum Abbotsford one Saturday afternoon.
The two women share their home with two others and are supported by Communitas Supportive Care Society. Connie and Patty are always eager to be out in the community and so when it was suggested that a visit to the Reach might be a good idea, they were happy to go. Lei, an international student at UFV was doing her last practicum in their home and was Connie’s assistant that day.
“When we got to the Reach, we noticed that a few people were going into one of the Studios and we were curious,” she says. “So we decided to see what they were doing.”
It turned out to be a community art project spearheaded by Abbotsford artist Linda Klippenstein. The project, titled We Gather Together, is a large, mixed media art piece designed with the intention of bringing together women in the community who would not necessarily meet otherwise.
“I love the way art can be a catalyst for community,” says Klippenstein. “I wanted to create something that would bring women together but I also wanted the art itself to reflect that theme.”
The piece was literally created by many hands coming together. Over the course of several months, over 80 women of all ages, abilities, and ethnicities pasted more than 60,000 pieces of torn paper to the canvas, bringing the landscape to life. They sat side by side, week after week, discovering things about each other, exploring different world views, and expanding their circles of friendship.
“We were welcomed to join them,” Lei says. “I was very happy to be able to help Connie take part in the project. We had a good time there.”
Patty chose to observe as others worked on the art piece. Vanessa also assumed that they would simply observe so she was surprised when they were invited to take part.
“It’s always exciting to discover abilities,” she says.
Connie agrees. For her, being able to participate in an art project that involved other women from the community was a gratifying experience.
“I won,” she says, with a big smile on her face.
We Gather Together will be on display at Abbotsford Community Services.