A mural in the name of peace
RIFLE ” Cheryl Currier of Rifle set down a serving tray of Albanian tea ” a hot, brown, sweet liquid served in a very small glass.
Not normally a tea drinker, I took a sip and to my surprise, it was very good.
But there was a reason Currier was serving this tea ” she and several others are preparing for a trip to the Balkan Mountains in southeastern Europe to recreate a mural they had recently painted on the alley side of the Garfield County Library in New Castle.
This specific town in the Balkans was chosen after Currier and her family had visited the area of Macedonia and Skopje.
The purpose of the mural, which depicts a move from death to life ” from darkness to light ” with a bridge connecting the two, is to promote peace between Muslims and Christians.
The project is being conducted through New Hope Church in New Castle and is called “Art and Reconciliation.”
The church group practiced by painting a 10-foot-by-20-foot mural on the library wall in New Castle, although none were professional artists. The mural was designed by Betsy Blackard and Daniel Peck.
“Betsy Blackard wanted to see art used in cross-cultural ministry,” Currier said. “We picked the theme of reconciliation because of all the conflict in that area and it’s an important theme in the Christian community. We talked about ‘imagination being the doorway to the spiritual.'”
One side of the mural depicts death with dead trees and the other side life with growing trees and a bridge that connects them together.
“We walked around New Castle because we needed a place to practice,” Currier said. “We learned about painting outside and working as a team. The Balkans look very much like our part of Colorado.”
Hannah Peck oversaw the project, having painted murals in New York City for years. Drawings of the mural were then sent to the group’s counterparts in the Balkans for approval.
“We sent some practice drawings to them,” Currier said. “This is an opportunity to build friendships. We’ve had to deal with our own negative feelings of Islam due to terror, but there’s a lot of room for gaining understanding between people and people and culture and culture. As people, we need to come together and deal with porous boundaries.”
Although there may still be opposing viewpoints, Currier said there can still be positive interaction.
Currier and her family, along with eight team members from New Castle and Rifle, will take the trip to the Balkan Mountains on Sept. 24, where they will spend two weeks painting the new mural at a cultural center and conducting art classes for kids.
“They really value their children and that’s another thing that we have in common,” Currier said.
Currier was born in Greeley and raised in Grand Junction. She attended Grand Junction High School and went to college in Omaha, Neb., where she received her bachelor’s degree in Christian education at Grace University and a graphics arts degree from Iowa Western Community College. She met her husband, Paul, who had also grown up in Grand Junction, after they both returned home after college.
“He went to Fruita (high school) and I went to Grand Junction,” Currier said with a small laugh. “But I think we probably went to the same elementary school. I think he was the boy that borrowed a marble from his friend and played against all the girls ” and then took theirs. I think I finally got mine back when we got married.”
That couple have now been married for 20 years and have two daughters ” Christa, 11 and Mary, 16. The family has lived in Rifle for nearly 12 years.
When Currier isn’t working on the Art and Reconciliation project, she is a stay-at-home mom, who homeschools her children and participates in the Cottonwood Springs Sports Camp in the Cottonwood trailer park in Rifle during the summer. Along with her church activities, she is also an active board member with the Garfield County Public Library system.
“I have a busy, full life,” Currier said with a smile.
And she makes darned good Albanian tea.
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