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MWC 2003 to feature international art exhibit

Ray Dirks

Winnipeg, Man.—Ray Dirks, curator of the Mennonite Heritage Centre Gallery here, will put together an international collection of Mennonite art at the next Mennonite World Conference (MWC) tentatively planned for Bulawayo, Zimbabwe in 2003.

The idea was first floated in 1998, and has received enthusiastic support from MWC leaders since then, says Dirks.

Dirks' goal for the exhibit is to raise awareness of the broad ethnic diversity in the international Mennonite faith community while at the same time celebrating what we

have in common. "We are part of a large global family that is no longer ethnically dominated, but one that still connects through our common faith," said Dirks, noting that African Mennonites represent fully one-third of the world's Mennonite population

Complementing each artist's exhibit will be a-day-in-the-life-of photos from their culture in an attempt to "reflect who and where the Mennonite family is today, so that we can be introduced to people and cultures we wouldn't normally meet." The exhibit is expected to tour internationally after the conclusion of MWC so that Mennonites from around the world may view the works of art.

Dirks hopes to present the works of artists from every major region where Mennonites live. Acknowledging that this is a large undertaking, he said, "we're raising money for an initial budget of $210,000 Canadian, which admittedly is a lot of money. But compared to similar exhibits in the art world of this scope and depth, it is relatively inexpensive," noting that all works will be purchased, not rented.

"I'm very concerned that artists will be treated fairly and justly," added Dirks. Interested benefactors can contact Dirks at (204) 888-6781, for more information.