Paintings in People’s Homes

I’m not sure when it began. Perhaps it was at the MCC. Or perhaps it was at a party (remember those?) when I momentarily drifted from the conversation and my gaze was arrested by a painting at eye level. I moved in closer. I began asking questions about it. I was shown more.

The scenario repeated itself, in other homes. I asked if I would be permitted to take photos… making the uncomfortable assumption that they’d kind know that at some point these pictures would end up on Mennotoba.

And here they are. We can’t go into each other’s homes anymore, but this is a collection from several years past. Paintings by friends, and friends’ mothers. Grandmothers. Aunts. Cousins. Sisters.

It seems many Mennonite women harboured these latent skills, a longing to pick up a brush and create with paint. Many did. And still do.

Back when the MCC Thrift Shop was open and we could linger at will, I would on occasion encounter a painting that would fit in well with such as these seen here. Just like at the party wistfully mentioned above, there was something about the colours and imagery crafted with such folksy earnestness and care that it drew me in. I’d stand, looking at it for awhile. Appreciating it. Then, hoping good things for it.

“May the right kind of person find you and value you,” I would silently wish to the painting, taking a few steps back, before flitting elsewhere.

In my mind, there will someday be a gallery space or a show for paintings and stories such as these. For now, in a time when we cannot enter each others homes, nor gallery spaces, I’ll leave you with these glimpses of what has been, and what could continue to be.

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