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Art Saved My Life . . . A story from the Exile Poster Project

One  of the first things that Antoinette said to me when I met her at the Exile Poster Project open house Tuesday in the Imago Art Space was “Art saved my life.”  I met Antoinette while she was examining the red poster with

Martin and Antoinette

a white shadow image of a girl in pigtails, and what looked like chains fallen to the ground. Antoinette was reading the words that explained what the work represented.  All of the 30 or so posters on display were created specifically for the Exile Poster event to bring light to the problem of child sex trafficking in Portland.

I asked Antoinette if she attended Imago Dei or knew Martin French, the artist who dreamed up the Exile Poster Project. She said no to both questions. Antoinette works for  City of Portland, in mayor Sam Adams’ office; she was invited by

Ken, Antoinette, Rick

Ken Weigel, a pastor at Imago Dei, to attend the event.

She shared with me her story of the importance of art in her life, and that she is very spiritual and sees the spiritual side of art.  Antoinette grew up in Alabama and eventually made her way to Oregon. She had an art teacher who mentored her and guided her during important years in her life. Antoinette shared with me that her art teacher helped  her to appreciate art and inspired her to create art. The artist mentored Antoinette for years, teaching her the value of work, and the importance of overcoming circumstances.

As I listened to Antoinette share her story, and her acknowledging that art saved her, I thought about the Exile Poster project and how, when you boil it down, that is in essence the vision behind the project. It’s recognizing the power of art, the power of the poster  in this case, to draw attention to an injustice, which will prayerfully inspire people who view the art to do something about the injustice. In the case of this year’s Exile Poster Project, to draw attention to an issue that is destroying the lives of girls caught in the trap of sex trafficking. And, as people view the posters, the hope is that they would sense a call to action, to help stop the injustice and oppression of these girls.

And, by the grace of God, maybe it will even save another life.

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Posted in Children, Church, Culture, Faith, Faith. Culture. The Arts Connection, Justice, Kids, Life, Live the Questions, Outreach.

2 Responses

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  1. Cornelia Seigneur says

    HI Melanie
    You make some excellent points here and they are great reminders to keep Christ in the forefront of all we do-including our artistic endeavors. I was definitely using some creative license in the jump from quoting Antoinette saying that art saved her and that art may save some girls.

  2. Melanie says

    I love Antoinette’s story and am blessed to hear that she attended this event. But two things gnaw at me…
    First, she states over and over again that art saved her; and while I think that it played a very powerful role in her life, I have a hard time claiming that anything or anyone, but Christ can save. I know that she might not have meant it in the way that I perceive the word “saved,” but none-the-less it bothers me a little.
    Two, I love projects like these! Being an artistic type, I love to go galleries and see work that supports more than the artist’s name. But I think that these things can also be turned into something else- somewhat of a god. Going back to Antoinette, she says that art saved her; and the girls who benefit from this show might end up saying the same thing. In the end, will it be revealed to them that this was a church event, or that Christians felt compelled to follow Christ’s example and love in this way?
    I in no way mean to slander the event or Antoinette- like I said before, I fully support it and Antoinette for sharing her story. But is the truth being shared at the same time? Or is art to be held up as a power strong enough to save? Is it what people will claim to be their ultimate passion, as opposed to Christ? So often our hobbies and talents get in the way of the One who first gave them to us…
    Fantastic story, but a few questions linger.

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