“Tree of Life” Mosaic dedication receives Westphal Human Rights Art Grant

The Human Family is proud to support the dedication of the “Tree of Life” mosaic at Churches United for the Homeless with a Westphal Human Rights Art Grant. The dedication will take place on Wednesday, June 13 2018 from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. at Churches United for the Homeless.

The culmination of a six-month community building project, over two dozen volunteers contributed over 300 hours of work to produce a piece of art that will be permanently displayed at the homeless shelter. The project was designed by artist Joe Larson, who also serves as the Pastor of St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in Fargo, North Dakota.

Larson created the design for the “Tree of Life” mosaic based on Proverbs 13:12: “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life.” Larson felt the verse seemed especially appropriate for those experiencing homelessness. “Many have lived in shelters and temporary housing for so long that is it difficult for them to dream of a better life,” said Larson. “Yet, that is what Churches United is doing with people—helping many of their residents eventually find long-term housing for themselves and their families.”

To Larson, the tree represents life that is present in all living things. “Many trees live longer than us humans,” he said. “The mosaic also has a large sun, sun and stars—symbols for the light of God and the lights of creation. Each branch in the tree of life has a mirror that reflects the face of the person looking at the mosaic. Down the middle flows a river, another image used throughout Scripture, which also represents the Red River here in our Fargo/Moorhead community.”

Larson’s hope was that this six-month endeavor would also be a community-building project – and that’s exactly what happened. Over two dozen volunteers contributed over 300 hours of work on the mosaic. For many, it was like a quilting-bee, with each person working on a small section, while at the same time chatting with others and sharing personal stories. One participant was a woman who was a resident at Churches United, and she did the entire tree that is the focal point of the mosaic. She was very proud of her work on it.

The Westphal Human Rights grant will provide the community project funding to cover the cost of food and drink for the dedication reception. “It’s a beautiful piece of work with a powerful message in an incredibly important place,” said Sonya Jensen, Human Family Board Member.

The Westphal Human Rights Film & Art Grant Program provides funding for filmmakers and artists living in the state of North Dakota and in Moorhead, MN, to creating works that relate to the discussion of human rights, environmental rights or social justice. To learn more about the Westphal Human Rights Film & Art Grant Program, visit www.human-family.org.

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