For those inspired by this year’s Easter observances, a visit to University of Findlay Mazza Museum is in order, where the academic institution’s religious heritage is being recognized with a Christian-themed exhibition of original artwork from picture books.
The exhibition is titled “Founded in Faith: Findlay’s Religious Heritage.” Fifteen works, displayed in the Miller Gallery, were chosen from the Museum’s existing collection and curated to reflect and celebrate the University’s spiritual origins. Although a secular institution that welcomes students of all religions, or no religion whatsoever, UF has always been grounded in Christian faith and service. It was founded in 1882 as a partnership between the Churches of God, General Conference and the City of Findlay, and its religious legacy endures.
For the exhibition, which will be on display for about a year, Curator Dan Chudzinski said pieces were selected that “we felt were a good conversation starter for people that might not be aware of that part of the University’s history.” The artwork addresses Christian-themed topics, and reflects scenes from both the Old and New Testaments.
Religious elements are mixed with folklore in some of the artwork that complements the written stories. For instance, “The Tale of Three Trees,” written by Angela Elwell Hunt and wonderfully illustrated by Tim Jonke, is a fable that uses the fate of tree wood to share the story of Christ’s life and resurrection. “This is one of the best works on display that shows the essence of the University’s heritage and our mission here,” said Chudzinski.
Overall, the artists included in the exhibition have worked on a wide array of books on varying subjects, Chudzinski said. Some of them include Ashley Bryan, who is recognized for his artistic renderings of African American spiritual depictions; Caldecott Medal-winner Blair Lent, whose pen-and-ink angels study for the book “The Christmas Sky” is in the exhibition; and Yuri Salzman, who carves and paints to create his images.
Some other original artworks featured are a lively watercolor, pen, and ink community scene from author and illustrator Wendy Watson in “Happy Easter Day,” a watercolor character depiction by artist Tomie dePaola for “The Holy Twins: Benedict and Scholastica,” and Dawn Lauck’s colored pencil and graphite creation of a child in a field shown in author Robin Jones Gunn’s “God’s Mountains, Meadows, and More.”