Bringing art and history together

Bringing art and history together

Above: Patrick, left, and Her Honour Brenda Murphy in front of the Christmas tree at Government House decorated with handmade ornaments by L'Arche Saint John and Fredericton at the official opening of Togetherness Ensemble on Dec. 9, 2022.

A moment of L’Arche history unfolded in New Brunswick earlier this month.

L’Arche Saint John and L’Arche Fredericton gathered together with the Honourable Brenda Murphy, Lieutenant Governor of New Brunswick, and guests for the official opening of a special art exhibit gracing the walls of Government House.

Togetherness Ensemble is a touching and vibrant collection of more than 60 works of art by artists with these two L’Arche communities. 

It is historic because it is the first time the two communities have collaborated on an art exhibit, and the first time we have had our works on display at the Lieutenant Governor’s official residence, a stately sandstone building along the shore of the St. John River in the capital city.

Built in the early 1800s, the grand home is both a national and provincial historic site. 

And from now until Jan. 26, its galleries on the second floor are home to the beautiful and inspiring creations of artists from our Creative Connections program and L’Arche Fredericton’s Spirit Project. 

Bright paintings, poignant photographs, unique sculptures, murals and more grace the walls. 

The official opening reception on Dec. 9 was an afternoon to remember as the artists, their families, L’Arche staff and friends mingled with Her Honour Brenda Murphy and her spouse, Her Honour Linda Boyle, along with invited guests.

“As Lieutenant Governor, my motto is Every Voice Matters because I believe in everyone’s ability to make a difference in their communities. Your voices matter, and I encourage you to continue pushing boundaries through your art,” the Lieutenant Governor told the artists as she officially opened the exhibit.

Zoël Breau, the executive director of L’Arche Saint John, spoke of the art on display as meaningful representations of the gifts and contributions of people with intellectual disabilities. 

“When people come to see the art, they could be moved, they could be inspired, they could be healed. That’s their contribution at this moment,” Zoël said. “And that’s what I am hoping will continue as we try to grow L’Arche in New Brunswick.”

Maggie Higgins, a professional artist in Saint John who curated the exhibit, spoke of the honour she felt in working with the artists – calling it the “greatest gift of my life.”

“To the artists of L’Arche, I hope you know you deserve this,” she said. “You work tirelessly, you work vulnerably, you work with such openness and such grace, and without any pretence.”

On behalf of everyone at L’Arche Saint John, I want to share my deep gratitude to Her Honours, to the staff at Government House, and to the members and volunteers of L’Arche Fredericton. Their support and collaboration has been incredible.

I salute all the artists for their incredible works of art and their dedication to creating, and I am grateful to Maggie for her energy, support and vision in curating this exhibit.

I express my gratitude and admiration for the leadership and hard work of Gray Gillies Mott, the program leader at Creative Connections, and Katie McTiernan, program assistant. This clearly could not have happened without them.

Together, they have made history.

Dave Stonehouse
President & Chair of the Board at L’Arche Saint John

Togetherness Ensemble is free and open to the public until Jan. 26, 2023.
Click here to learn more about the exhibit »
Click here to read CBC news coverage on the official opening »

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