The artistic talent displayed at this small New Hampshire congregation took some members by surprise.
"Each Sunday we talk about our children, or our jobs, but few people know what our personal interests are," said Kyle Potvin, a public relations practitioner and a poet whose writing was displayed along with the works of other artists at St. Christopher's Episcopal Church in Hampstead, about 45 minutes' drive from Boston.
Potvin, who said she's written poetry all of her life, decided in the past five years to get more serious. "It's great to be part of a community were there are a lot of creative people," said the published award winner, after compiling a book of poems for the display.
Thirteen artists, all members of St. Christopher's, displayed work in various media, including oil painting and watercolors, multi-media, photography, quilting, pottery sculpture and weaving.
"For several years during Lent I have invited parish members to participate in what I call a Creative Lent," said the Rev. Miriam Acevedo. "I've asked folks to use Lent to think and produce some art that expresses somehow their thoughts about new life in celebration of Easter."
Acevedo, vicar of the parish for nine years, said she had encouraged any sort of art. "This past Lent I felt we needed something different," she said. "In tossing around some ideas, we decided we'd not do a Creative Lent, but instead plan a parish art show." The opening reception to meet the artists attracted about 50 members who then stayed for a potluck dinner.
The exhibit remained on display on tables and hung from large screens in the nave of the church for two weeks. After it was dismantled, Potvin asked a coffee house and café if some of the art could be set up in the shop. Paintings and drawing were on display there for the whole community to view for several weeks more.
Acevedo, whose church has an average Sunday attendance of about 100 people, earned a fine-arts degree before she considered seminary and the priesthood. In the past year, she resumed her interest in painting. "I even had a couple of pieces in this year's show," she said proudly.
Madeleine Dionne, who organized the art exhibit, called it quite a success. "It was a special satisfaction to know that we were able to present talents found within our own church," she said. "Previous Lenten exhibits were strictly spiritual art; this one was wide open." While Dionne dreams about expanding next year's art show to invite submissions from the broader community, Acevedo said she would welcome even more categories of "art."
"I could conceive of someone cooking a wonderful meal and have it displayed as art," she said.