Fragile Canvases

One of my favorite people in the whole world is Teresa. As an artist of faith, her creative expressions are wonderfully eclectic and always filled with delight. She creates Christmas ornaments from clothespins. She cross-stitches and quilts. She leads a team of bread bakers for our church’s communion table. She plays the cello in a local community orchestra. She writes and blogs. She manages a small art gallery. But the thing she does that has earned her the most public acclaim is that she’s an amazing, perhaps world-class pysanky artist.

Pysanky is a traditional Ukrainian folk art using a wax-resist method to inscribe designs upon eggs. Though traditional methods entail the use of historical motifs and designs (particularly around Easter and other religious themes), this art form can also involve very modern design elements and ornamentations. Painstaking and delicate work, a single egg can take anywhere from four to forty hours of work, depending on the size of the egg and the intricacy of the design. Teresa’s own journey into pysanky is a roundabout one, as she fell in love with the medium as an adult, and later made the personal connections back to her Ukrainian heritage. Now, she will occasionally conduct classes and participate in festivals around the country and is a regular feature on the annual Incredible Eggs calendar.

A year ago, she shared some of her work in a gallery she titled, “Fragile Canvas.” As art is a metaphor for life, Teresa is quick to admit that there have been more than a few broken eggs in her art making. Hence, the crux of this solo exhibition was to capture both “the joy of creation and the pain of loss,” something she understands personally in her art and in her life. Fittingly, the centerpiece of this exhibition was an intricately inscribed goose egg, which she broke on purpose (yikes!). You can read more about that here.

As artists of faith, God can meet us and teach us through our art, if we are only attentive to the Small Still Voice. This is no more truer than now.

Just recently, we discovered that Teresa has a form of bone marrow cancer. While we are hopeful that modern medicine and God’s hand can put this into remission, we are watching our dear friend suffer the effects and complications of her condition. Mind you, there is no more beautiful soul on the face of the planet than Teresa. And as we see her and her equally dear husband, Dave, walk this journey, she reminds us once again of the fragile canvases that each of us are—intended for beauty, marred by our humanity, redeemed by the Creator, destined for eternity.  We are indeed fragile canvases who must surrender to the creative and loving hand of the Master Artist.

In Teresa’s words, “This [fragile canvas] represents the joy of creation and the pain of loss all tangled up in wordless feelings and eggshells. It is a reminder that we are all made of fragile canvas and yet even in our broken state, we still have beauty.”

[Note: All eggs shown in these blog photos were created by Teresa Mihalko Harbert.]



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