Art and the Spirit: artist Terrie Chedore

IROQUOIS – “Every piece of art is a conversation. People look at a painting. It speaks to them: a new dialogue opens.

Art is powerful. A painting holds energy and it connects with people.”

Terrie Chedore, who will be one of the featured artists in the second annual South Dundas Art and Studio Tour and Sale, August 19, was in her book-lined studio in Iroquois, framed works on many walls, works in progress carefully stacked everywhere.

“I had actually tried to be an artist since my teens, but things always kept getting in the way,” she said. “Then five years ago, I decided that I had to go ahead. I had to become an artist.”

In 2011, Terrie was studying to become an “ordered minister” in the United Church of Canada. As she neared the completion of her program, she began to “feel badly”: she was eventually given the tough diagnosis of leukemia.

“I had to leave the candidacy program at that point to begin treatment,” she explained quietly.

However, during those long months of treatment, she found herself turning to that passion for art which had always been inside her, but often suppressed.

“Art was always the medium through which I communicated with people. But I had hidden my art for years because I thought it made some people uncomfortable.”

During the illness, “I was too weak to paint,” Terrie said, “but I began moving seashells around. As I did, characters and images began to emerge from the shells. In the end my very first real showing turned out to be of my seashell art, at the Galop Gallery (in Cardinal)”.

Six years later, she has been officially declared cured.

And she has also made sure that her art is now openly part of her life.

“It is still so amazing to me to do the work, to see my work displayed, and to talk to people about it. Art is about opening up conversations. It’s a doorway to so much, and it is a healing practice. Art, for me, is how I see the world.

I used to struggle with intellectual conversations until I could picture the ideas in my head: understanding comes through the images.”

Terrie studied at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in Halifax, and the Ottawa School of Art.

She also continued her religious education.

She is now a licensed lay worship leader, with an arts component, in the United Church of Canada.

“I have adopted the title diaconal artist, and I am an official member of the Diaconia of the United Church of Canada.”

Spirituality infuses Terrie’s life and her art.

In her last years at the Centre for Christian studies, “the art work began coming out everywhere. A lot of my themes come from Biblical text. I love the research involved in the texts. I go deep into the words, and I find that the images emerge.”

Her medium, and her love, is pastels.

“Pastels are pure pigment, and to some extent, fragile. But they are also, like the works of Degas, vibrant.”

She has worked in sculpture and oils and mixed media, but “my first love is still pastels.”

She takes photos and notes, but does not work in the field. “I don’t copy nature,” she explains, “Instead, I pull out and paint what excites me.”

She prefers to work in the studio in her home, where ideas “percolate” and “thumbnail sketches” are created. From there the finished art piece emerges.

She often weaves a piece of art into sermons, making the connection between diaconal ministry and the church. The Christian Church, she points out, has always been deeply involved with artists. There were centuries where the Church embraced and commissioned artists. There were also times when the Church turned against and condemned artists.

Art, worship and social justice come together in Terrie’s works.

Her art has been shown in galleries and juried exhibits from Cornwall to New Brunswick. She has been awarded a number of honours. She also does some teaching and some community art (including the recent Brushes, Brass and Chocolate held at Iroquois United Church).

She stresses that every piece of art is the start of a conversation.

“This is partly because I do worship pieces,” Terrie said. “People look at a painting and a conversation begins. It becomes an opportunity to talk about the power of the spirit in the world in a secular setting. We need to talk to each other in languages we can all understand.”

“Everything interests me,” she said at the end of the interview. “We live in God’s created world. What in His world is not filled with spirit and energy?”

Terrie Chedore’s studio in Iroquois on Beach Street is one of the exciting stops on the 2017 South Dundas area Art and Studio Tour and Sale, Saturday, August 19, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission to the studios on the tour is free.