Service: Curator's Statement

Hi's the curator's statement (i.e. by yours truly) for Second Space Arts' third exhibit:

Service: Photographs by Patrick Bresnan and Ivete Lucas

What is it that drives people to serve selflessly: to help or give without asking in return? (Some modern skeptics deny true altruism even exists). We might learn more of the answer – moving beyond easy theology – by considering the three parties normally involved in service. The first two: those served (or in need of service – in the case of this exhibit, people from the hurricane-ravaged town of Cameron, LA); those serving (providing energy and resources to supply to those in need – here a conservative Mennonite group from Harrisonburg, VA). The third party in the realm of service is not so much a defined group as it is a sense, a feeling; a spirit. It is the goodwill; the bonhomie; the mutual fulfillment created – and in some sense, revived – as a byproduct of the selfless pattern of one people’s service to another…though we may discover the lines of serving and being served fuzzier than we first imagined. All three parties may be found populating these photographs by Patrick Bresnan and Ivete Lucas.

This exhibit involves two additional entities linked to the idea of service, one which is mysterious and difficult to pinpoint, and the other more obvious: firstly, the drive or motivation behind service; the cause, beliefs; a desire meeting a need. Secondly is the physical record of the parties of service: the pictures seen around you. But these photographs by Bresnan and Lucas are much more than simply a record – they are sincere and integral components of that same spirit of service: they are, in a way, a psychological mortar between the bricks of service, spiritually binding and anchoring the solid byproducts of goodwill; bonhomie; mutual fulfillment. Simply put, photography unites. And this is made even truer by their parallel aim of being aesthetically captivating: in color, composition, emotion and association. The Shaker saying, “If something is worth doing, it’s worth doing well” comes to mind. If one is to photograph a people in action – in service – then won’t the core aims of that service be expanded by good craft; careful composing; arresting images – by visual examples of the same serving mentality, spirit and practice? Might the photography itself become an actual service?

Judge for yourself – and absorb the arc, the depth and breadth of life visible in this exhibit: both the people who serve as well as the people who receive service; working at their respective day-to-day activities, as well as those specialized times of direct service, along with scenes of the landscape, the environment, the architecture of the places where service happens. Use these photographs as an opportunity to investigate and consider this panorama of what service is – and how it looks. A final question can be left with you the viewer: does service continue as everyone involved returns to their “normal” lives, in their “regular” places of living? That spirit of mutual fulfillment, does it also continue, and seep into unexpected areas of the parties’ lives and hearts? Consider the “easy yoke” of service in and for your own life, and uncover the answer for yourself. - Mennonite Disaster Service, domestic disaster missions   - Mennonite Central Committee, multi-denominational; global missions
     - Eastern Mennonite Missions, branch of Lancaster Conference, MC-USA

Timothy Gierschick, curator

Here's a link to Patrick Bresnan's Cameron portfolio.

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