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The Methodist Connexional Office is located at:

Weteriana House
50 Langdons Road
Papanui
Christchurch 8053

Postal address
:

PO Box 931, Christchurch 8140

P. (03) 366 6049   I   0800 266 639

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Art as a means to grapple with disability

Art as a means to grapple with disability

Rhonda Swenson is member and office worker at the Trinity Union Church in Newtown, Wellington.

Through her paintings and poetry, Rhonda gives artistic expression to living with multiple disabilities, including cerebral palsy and specific learning disability.

Her first solo exhibition took place in March, at the Vincents Arts Workshop, featuring 34 artworks. Coordinator Glen McDonald described the opening of the exhibition as ‘one of the most successful (and moving) openings’ the centre has held. Twelve works were sold at the opening.

Many Methodists’ first encounter with Rhonda’s artwork would have been at the opening service of the 2004 Methodist Church conference at Pitt St Church where her ‘disproportionate cross’ stood at the front of the church. It is a powerful work of recycled wood overlaid with collage work. The crooked angle of the horizontal bar represents the artist’s personal response to living with disability in the so-called ‘normal’ world.

The Summer 2006 issue of Music in the Air features 14 original poems written by Rhonda. They are taken from several hundred she has written since her teenage years. Rhonda says her poetry is a way to express herself, cope with her disabilities, survive and celebrate daily existence with self and others.

Music in the Air publisher John Thornley can be contacted by email john.gill@inspire.net.nz or c/o 15 Oriana Place, Palmerston North.

Not just pew sitting
God there in the mess
of uncertainty|
on the streets
speaking in moments of silence
waiting, waiting, for our response.

To walk the road of unease and justice,
the road that nobody wants to be seen on
for fear of stigma attached.

To speak when no one dares to speak,
just watching life pass by.
The clean ‘no hassles’ routine.

The Cross
A place to hang one’s feelings
to sense your presence and care
even if you do not know what to do.
You let me come into your life.
The cross leaves its weight
a place to love
a silent spoken word
the gentle presence felt.

Just a place to be
to reflect the good and bad
and walk forward.
To hold the cross of faith.