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Art for Relief

    Jan 11, 2005
-by Dan Dyck
 


Alf Redekopp and Nyoman Klassen check out the Art for Relief sale at the Mennonite Heritage Centre Gallery. Pieces can be viewed at www.mennonitechurch.ca/programs/gallery/.

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Winnipeg, Man. — A last minute chance to wrap up some loose ends has resulted in a unique fundraiser for tsunami relief in South East Asia.

Over the Christmas holiday break, Ray Dirks, curator of the Mennonite Heritage Centre (MHC) Art Gallery was packing up an exhibition of 60 Indonesian artworks in preparation for their return trip home. While working, he suddenly struck upon the idea of offering the artworks for sale with a portion of proceeds going to support Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) relief efforts in the stricken region.

With artists and their representatives soon in agreement, Dirks set to work contacting various local media. “As the world is haunted by images of devastation from South East Asia, art curator Ray Dirks is selling images of beauty from Indonesia to help rebuild the destroyed nation,” said the Winnipeg Free Press in a third page feature in the Jan 4, 2005 edition.

By the time this and other news items reached audiences, Dirks had already departed on a scheduled trip to the Democratic of Congo, leaving his colleagues to scramble in the wake of radio, television and media coverage.

“Prospective buyers started showing up even before we had a chance to unpack the crates,” said Heritage Centre director Alf Redekopp.

As of this writing, the response has generated 9 sales of artwork and $7755. The gallery will donate 100% of its commissions and the artists 50% of their portion of sales to the Mennonite Central Committee’s response to the Asian tsunami. The remaining artist portions will go to the Indonesian artists to support their families and relatives in Indonesia.

Nyoman Klassen, a native of Indonesia, works in Mennonite Church Canada’s finance department. In scanning a list of artists presented by a reporter, she began to recognize some names – one of them her cousin. “What a surprise!” she exclaimed on making the connection. She counts a brother and three cousins as career artists in her homeland. Her family lives in Bali, a region unaffected by the earthquake.

The artworks are all part of an exhibit called In the Shadows of Volcanoes. It was a critically acclaimed exhibition of contemporary Indonesian art that recently concluded a successful tour of North America. It was based at the MHC Gallery. The tour included stops, among others, in New York City, Winnipeg and at the Provincial Museum of Alberta in Edmonton. The Indonesian Embassy in Ottawa said this was the only significant exhibition of contemporary Indonesian art to ever tour in North America.

Artwork that remains for sale can be viewed on the internet at www.mennonitechurch.ca/programs/gallery/. For more information, contact 204-888-6781 (local) or 1-866-888-6785 (toll free from Canada and the continental USA) and ask for the Art Gallery, or email archives@mennonitechurch.ca.