When you walk into the Great Hall, you may notice new artwork hanging from the rafters. Two 12-foot tall chandeliers of golden stars cascade from above and shimmer in any breeze from the room.
These hundreds of stars are the handiwork of more than 30 parishioners and friends of St. Barnabas, people who came together through art in a time when we were figuring how to be in community together, but apart, in the latest wave of Covid infections.
The installation started out as a way to celebrate a new chapter of ministry together in Rev. Jane’s first year at St. Barnabas, a new year, a new start—but, as the omicron variant raged through our communities and we started postponing events and staying in, the artwork took on a different meaning.
For those who helped fold over 1,370 stars or watched the installation progress, it was a way to stay connected, to remain hopeful and build something beautiful together even in depressing, bleak times. Many people told me that once they got the hang of it, folding the stars was a meditative, centering experience.
We used reclaimed (used and misprinted) bulletins to make the origami paper, so as you’d fold, you were physically and spiritually in-touch with parts of church life. The paper itself moved from the church to my home to be hand-painted and cut, back to church to be distributed, then to folders’ homes, and finally back to church. This in-out-up kind of movement also reflects the flow of love and service in the life of a Christian community.
The golden stars were originally intended to represent the hopes and dreams of the congregation, and I believe they still do. But they also represent the tenacity of hope and joy in dark times, and the necessity of community.
One golden, origami star is pretty. But hundreds of them shimmering together, connected on gossamer-thin strands of monofilament, are powerful.
We need each other to realize our dreams. Together, we’re able to achieve things that would be impossible alone.
And, much like how stars shine brightest against a dark sky, we have shown we’re able to make something beautiful together, even in dark and difficult times.
The world can feel like a scary place sometimes. But I have faith in the power of love, community and light. Shine bright, my friends.
Our sincere gratitude
We could not have made this work of art together without the dedication of the many community members who made this happen, including friends of St. Barnabas (my mom and husband, Erika’s family).
Whether you folded one star or hundred, we thank you for your hard work and support. You are all stars!
If we missed your name on this list and you helped us fold stars, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, so we can recognize your contribution.
• Dick & Merrily Davis
• Sarah Davis
• Rev. Pam Fairley
• Susan Fronek
• Rev. Jane Gerdsen
• Wendy & Bob Gustafson
• Laura Leigh Hahn
• The Havera Family
• The Hlavac Family
• Joyce Hotz
• Frank Jaklic
• Pierce Leavell
• Ali & Zig Main
• The Mathew Family
• The Mattson Family
• Erika McCoy
• Sophie McCoy
• Cherry Perlson
• Jeryl Ramasamy
• Amy Rosenberg
• Charlotte Salay
• Satya Thanaseelan
• Kara Shay Thompson
• Andrew Volk
I’d also like to extend a special thank you to my husband, Andrew Volk. Andrew helped fold and sew hundreds of stars and was the project’s invaluable engineer and ladder-climber. The many hours he spent supporting me and helping a community of people he’s never met is just one more reason I love him from the bottom of my heart.
Stephanie Ewing is an artist, writer and communications director at St. Barnabas Episcopal Church. She uses paint, collage and reclaimed materials to create colorful, intricate 2D and 3D art. Stephanie loves making art that brings people together and sparks a sense of wonder. She's proud to be the 2022 Artist-in-Residence at St. Barnabas' Art Camp. Stephanie lives in Anderson Township, Ohio, with her husband, their pet rabbit and a yard full of trees and wildlife. You can view more of her art at stephanieewing.com.