Exhibition at the Adrian Center for the Arts brought together artists and the Lenawee hospice for a mourning project
ADRIAN – A new exhibition presented at the Adrian Center for the Arts allowed 27 families to discover how art can be a tool in the process of mourning and remembering a now bygone life.
The heartwarming exhibit titled “Power of Passage” opened to the public on Sunday. On Saturday, the exhibit was set up outdoors for families who played a key role in creating the exhibit.
These families from across Lenawee County were all seeking bereavement services through the Hospice of Lenawee and its corresponding bereavement support group. They were asked if they would be interested in partnering with ACA to create a memorial door in honor of their loved one.
After families accepted the invitation, 27 ACA member artists were paired with each family to create and personalize the memorial door.
Families identified traits and experiences that defined their loved ones. The artists used this information to create an individualized and reused door for each family.
“This partnership with the artists has been a great way to show that creating remembrance can be an important step in the grieving process,” said Sharon VanTuyle, Director of the Grief Support Program at Hospice. “What a great place and what a great event for these families.”
Families were able to tour the ACA campus on Saturday and tour the grounds. They also got to see the end result of their memorial doors.
For many families, the final creation of the door brought tears, hugs, laughter and joy.
“It was as if these doors brought their loved one back to life,” said ACA Programming Director Pi Benio.
“It was a project with results beyond expectations,” said Benio. “The families and the performers were both impressed by the powerful discussions and the letting go process that took place.”
“Power of Passage” was Benio’s original idea.
Almost five years ago, the idea of having a memorial door created for a grieving family came to her, literally overnight, she said. It took a while for his plan to come to fruition, but when he did, it took about 2 and a half years of a process that culminated until Saturday.
Benio, like many other people, experienced the loss of a loved one. Art, she says, is a mechanism that can help people cope with their grief.
The doors, which are on display outdoors and set up in four different tents on the ACA campus, will be open to the public until Sunday, September 20.
The doors symbolize a form of passage. They must represent this transition, or a bridge from one life to another.
“There have been quite a few setbacks due to COVID,” Benio said. “I don’t think it could have gone better, though.
“The families who received a door were immediately torn apart. This project was really so much more than I expected.”
Once the public screening is over, the exhibition can be viewed online at www.adriancenterforthearts.org under the heading “Gallery”. The doors will be moved inside the gallery room during the online exhibition.
Meanwhile, 12 of the 27 doors have been chosen for a year-long traveling exhibition, with the jury of renowned Toledo artist Steven Athanas. The 12 selected gates will visit various events across the region, starting with the Lenawee Hospice House at 1903 Wolf Creek Highway, Adrian.
Other local venues where the doors could appear include the dedication ceremony for the new ProMedica Charles and Virginia Hickman Hospital, 5640 N. Adrian Highway, Adrian, and the 2021 Artalicious Fine Arts Fair next fall in downtown Montreal. Adrian.
A second part of “Power of Passage” exhibited in the Gallery room of the ACA campus includes 27 family collages. This part of the project was the initial starting point for “Power of Passage”.
The photo collages were created by families in memory of their loved one. Along with the photos of each of the doors, the images of the collage will remain displayed inside the gallery until October 23.
The gallery’s opening hours are 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday and Friday, and 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday. Appointments can also be made to visit the gallery.
“Power of Passage” was funded in part through a grant from the Sage Foundation.
Julia Tomaro, ACA Member Artist and Youth Art Director, was one of 27 artists to create a door. Its door was in memory of Ken Laponis.
Laponis and his wife, Jane, near Tomaro. In fact, the home of the Lapps was once the home of Tomaro. She strayed from the neighborhood for a while, but upon her return moved two houses lower than her home.
Tomaro said the design for the Ken Memory Door, whose nickname was “Mad Dog,” was inspired by his ongoing collaboration with Jane.
“The trust she had in me meant a lot,” Tomaro said. “It was rather relaxing and cathartic for both of us to remember Ken the way we did.”
From the various sports teams painted on the doors to things like Doritos, Mountain Dews and muscle cars, each of the 27 doors is customized to suit its subject.
“Each of these artists paid a lot of attention to every detail given to them,” said Cathy Thielan, volunteer and board member of the Hospice of Lenawee. “Visually, we want our loved ones to last forever. This exhibition makes that possible. Each of these doors is what these people are.
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