The following article was aired and posted online on KVRR on February 25, 2018. You can find the original article online here.

By Jessie Cohen

FARGO, ND — Exhibit shows social justice experiences through artwork – but the artwork at the Human Rights Exhibit at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in Fargo goes beyond that. Over the last few months, the North Dakota Human Rights Film and Arts Festival has given artists a platform to share the stories behind their pieces.

People in the community are learning about their opinions, struggles and experiences through artwork.

“They’re putting their view and it’s filtering through their mind and their experiences and it’s coming out in a totally new way which is what every artist hopes for,” said Karen Perry Anderson, an artist from the exhibit.

“There are so many voices out there today of hate. A lot of churches would shy away from maybe doing something like this and we feel this is part of our mission.”  – Pastor Joe Larson

Whether you are seeing, feeling or listening to a piece of art, you are…

“Learning a little bit more about something they didn’t know about, said Anna Johnson, a Native American artist from the exhibit.

But the artwork at the Human Rights Exhibit at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in Fargo goes beyond that…

“Social justice pieces and human rights pieces give voice to those who don’t have a voice,” Anderson said.

…and the church strongly supports their mission.

“We are very committed to social justice issues and it’s great to see artists who have done things to represent different issues within those communities,” said Pastor Joe Larson, with St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in Fargo.

Each piece holds a message that can teach its audience something new about social justice.

“There are so many different levels of diversity. It’s very diverse be it women, gay men, injustice, Native American rights, it all goes together in human rights,” Johnson said.

“It’s important in Fargo because our work isn’t done. People still need to have an understanding of where others come from,” Anderson said.

Pastor Joe Larson wants the community to feel as though this is a safe space for self–expression.

“There are so many voices out there today of hate. A lot of churches would shy away from maybe doing something like this and we feel this is part of our mission,” Larson said.

Those involved in this project say the idea is to combine what makes you, you, with what you believe in.

“I think that’s a big part of what I do is bring all parts of myself together in my art,” said Johnson.

“Faith and art can kind of both be ways of expressing concerns about these issues,” said Larson.

The beauty behind this art, many say, is giving the public the tools to explore without telling them exactly what to see.

“I can plant a seed and somebody else is going to nourish and water and feed that seed and you just don’t know where that’s going to go,” said Anderson.

The art exhibition will be on display at St. Marks until March 30th.

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