By Mabell, Dave on January 4, 2020.
The lives of three internationally recognized creators will be in focus during this year’s Cade Community Lecture series at the downtown library.
Reflections on the work of American social activist and writer Dorothy May, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Mary Oliver and daring Chinese artist and critic Ai Weiwei will be part of the three-part series, opening Jan. 13 in the library’s Theatre Gallery.
The no-charge presentations, open to all interested, are co-sponsored by the Lethbridge Public Library, the president’s office at the University of Lethbridge and the city’s Ecumenical Campus Ministry. They’re named after Bill Cade, the university’s previous president.
This year’s theme, “The World Shall Be Saved by Beauty” will be explored by local speakers at 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 13 and 20, with a concluding presentation set for Feb. 3.
Erin Phillips, campus chaplain at the university and Lethbridge College, also serves as priest of St. Theodore Anglican Church in Taber. She will open the series with insights into the work of Dorothy Day and Mary Oliver: “Connecting the true, the good, and the beautiful.”
One of Day’s first glimpses of human compassion and self-sacrifice came in 1906, as a young survivor of the disastrous San Francisco earthquake. Later, after living in Greenwich Village, New York for some time she experienced a religious conversion.
Day became a journalist and social activist for the rest of her life, as co-founder of the Catholic Worker newspaper, a driving force behind the creation of soup kitchens and housing for marginalized people. She faced arrest for such activities as advocating a vote for women and defending farm workers’ rights.
Her high-profile activism was praised recently by Pope Francis.
The work of Oliver, a New England poet who died last year, was often compared with 19th century U.S. poet Emily Dickinson. And she was certainly well read, being described by the New York Times as “far and away, this country’s best-selling poet.”
Much of her writing comments on walks in the woods, where she found nature helped her connect with its creator. But she had little time for religious disputes.
“I don’t care how many angels can dance on the head of a pin,” she wrote. “It’s enough to know that for some people they exist, and that they dance.”
U of L art historian Anne Dymond will reflect on the work of contemporary artist and activist Ai Weiwei on Jan. 20.
Born in Beijing, he has been jailed for his advocacy of human rights and democracy in China. His art studio was destroyed. He returned to China after exile in the U.S., only to face further repression.
In more recent years, Weiwei had a large studio in Berlin. But he moved to England last fall, warning that Germany is no longer “an open culture.”
Dymond will speak “On the Sublime and the Beautiful, or how artist Ai Weiwei taught me that beauty is action.”
The Feb. 3 presentation will examine “The beauty that comes from doing things you will never master: on crocheting and kayaking in middle age.” Community activist Lisa Lambert will be the speaker.
Phillips has organized a January series of reflective presentations for many years, on behalf of the campus ministry supported by a number of Lethbridge congregations. She was recently honoured for 25 years of ministry to Lethbridge students.
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