Art Against Racism: Opening Our Doors

Rev, Ginny Cetuk, left, with Caroline Clarke, who delivered Not in Our Town Princeton’s lecture on “The Case for Reparations,” and Robt Seda-Schreiber of the Bayard Rustin Center of Social Justice
Art Agaist Racism - "Girl in Prayer" by Rhinold Ponder
“Girl in Prayer” by Rhinold Ponder

Princeton UMC gave strong support to the first Art Against Racism project, founded by Rhinold Ponder and aided by the Bayard Rustin Center for Social Justice and Not in Our Town Princeton. Princeton UMC members hosted the intercongregational breakfast on Sunday, staged the reparations talk by Not in Our Town Princeton’s spokesperson Caroline Clarke, and opened the doors to the exhibit for 11 days. A member of PUMC bought one of the paintings, “Girl in Prayer,” and donated it to the church.

The exhibit attracted nearly 300 visitors. “We are extremely grateful,” says Rhinold, “that the PUMC family embraced the project with open arms and hard work to make it a very successful event. So much positive energy and relationship building came out of PUMC’s participation.” Other works were shown at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Princeton and the Princeton YWCA. 

Rev. Ginny Cetuk worked with Rhinold to bring these events to our church. “Thank you, Pastor Ginny, for bringing this wonderful opportunity to show PUMC”s commitment to work against racism and for justice and love for all people,” says Pat Ostberg, who took charge of scheduling exhibit volunteers.

Princeton UMC joined members of First Baptist church and Mt. Pisgah AME church at a breakfast cooked by Ian Macdonald.

Special thanks go to Chef Ian Macdonald and the hosts for thebreakfast, to Abu Ibrahim and Iona Harding who helped stage the lecture and reception, and to the 22 volunteers who worked to keep the show open for 10 ½ days. They include Judy Algor, Chris Cox, Dana Dreibelbis, Anne Fikaris, Barbara Fox, Iona Harding, Karen Hoagland, Mikaela Langdon, Karen Longo-Baldwin, Jeff & Vivian Sayre, Marv Ostberg, Pat Ostberg, Lori Pantaleo, Joe & Sunny Paun, Beth Perrine, Charles Phillips, Katheryn Ranta. Hyelim Yoon, Temi Tayo, and Michele Tuck-Ponder.

“I was touched by the artists’ statements through their art, the people who came through our doors to view the exhibit, and the volunteer’s willingness to devote some of their time to the issue of racism,” says Pat. “Thanks to Debbie Blok for the many behind the scene things she did and to Susan Lidstone for the eye-catching, outdoor signs. Many of our visitors were just walking by, saw the signs and dropped in.”

“I was so proud of our church for “opening” our doors to this very important community outreach,” says Katheryn Ranta.  “I was especially touched by meeting and talking with our visitors:

  • The young man with autism whose painting of hands forming a heart over the rainbow was on display.  His proud parents and grandparents were with him.
  • A young Asian woman with her white husband talked about how the painting of an interracial couple touched on the problems she faces.
  • Three college age students spent a long time discussing some of the paintings and then took Skitch’s Testing Your Spirituality and talked with Iona and me about it.”

Pat’s favorite story: “When Marv and I were there one evening, a couple came in. After looking at the paintings and poetry, the wife told me she had always wanted to see the inside of our church, and then said, ‘You can tell there is a lot of love here.’ I agreed with her.”