Community Canvas

Communitas: A Tale of Two Paintings by Louis Holstein

On the eve of Founders Day, an event all about the celebration of community, I decided to reflect on two paintings from last year.

Community - Painting by Louis Holstein

And here I am, back to the topic of Community. What can I say, I think community is one of the most important necessities to live a healthy and whole life. We were not created to live life alone. Last year I curated my first exhibition featuring Ashley’s photography. The overarching theme of the show was the role of community in an individual’s life and how that, in turn, is a reflection of the ultimate community: the Holy Trinity. The show featured three interactive stations, and the art piece you see above this text was the final product of one of the stations. It was a community mural. I had selected four colors and draw squares for people to fill in. I also numbered the squares so it could become a paint-by-numbers event, but people rarely followed the numbers. In fact, as you can see, they didn't even follow the instructions of painting one color per square!

At first I was annoyed with the lack of compliance, but I remembered that this was a risk of a community mural, you never know what you are going to end up with. Aside from the obvious lack of following directions with color placement, everyone followed the directions regarding “painting in the square.” I had imagined all the colors blending beautifully, and it just wasn’t happening. This wasn’t true community. This was a painting created with specific colors in specific boundaries. But true community includes all the colors. True community blurs the boundaries. I began to fill in the white squares of the painting, but I couldn’t stop. Below is the final product.

If you look closely you can see the remnants of the first painting. This is what I believe true community looks like, full of color and boundary-less. It is messy and unpredictable. It can only occur if vulnerability is chosen. Vulnerability is hard, but living a life without community is harder.

- Louis

“I love, therefore I am vulnerable.” - Madeleine L’Enngle

Communitas - Painting by Louis Holstein