Artist Jaime Winton of St. John's UMC in Memphis created commissioned art as gifts for retiring bishops
Artist Jaime Winton created these five original mixed media canvases as gifts (one each) for the five retiring bishops (in 2016) of the Southeastern Jurisdiction of The United Methodist Church. The work was commissioned by the SEJ's active bishops and coordinated by Nashville Episcopal Area Bishop Bill McAlilly. (Submitted photos)
By Lane Gardner Camp, Director of Communications, Memphis Conference
The five retiring bishops of the Southeastern Jurisdiction (SEJ) of The United Methodist Church each received a gift of artwork this summer made by a member of St. John’s United Methodist Church in Memphis, Tennessee.
The art was commissioned by the jurisdiction’s active bishops and presented at a retirement banquet held by the SEJ College of Bishops during the 2016 SEJ Conference in Lake Junaluska, North Carolina, in July.
Bishop Bill McAlilly of the Nashville Episcopal Area (Memphis and Tennessee Conferences) secured the gifts as part of his responsibility for planning the retirement celebration.
“It is customary for the active bishops to offer a gift to those retiring,“ explained McAlilly. “In the past, rocking chairs had been the gift of choice, but the source for the chairs was no longer available.”
As McAlilly and his wife, Lynn, pondered an appropriate gift for the retiring bishops, it occurred to them to commission artist Jaime Winton to create some original artwork. A piece by Winton currently hangs in McAlilly's office in Nashville, Tennessee. He had received it as a gift when he preached at St. John’s UMC in 2015.
McAlilly called Winton’s mixed media canvases “a great way to honor” the five retiring bishops. Each one is a slightly different visual interpretation of a passage from Frederick Buechner's Whistling in the Dark:
With our imagination as well as our eyes, that is to say like artists,
we must see not just their faces but the life behind and within their faces.
Here it is love that is the frame in which we see them.” ~ Frederick Buechner
“The recipients were pleased and honored to receive the original art,” McAlilly said.
According to Rev. Dr. Johnny Jeffords, lead pastor at St. John’s, “Jaime is a remarkable artist, spirit and vital member of our church.” Rev. Renee Dillard, in charge of the church’s discipleship ministries, said, “Jaime is abundantly gifted and shares those gifts generously!”
Winton recently said she was "deeply honored" to be offered the opportunity by Bishop McAlilly "to honor the legacy of these great bishops."
The process of creating the art, she explained, "required spending a great deal of time working closely with Buechner's prophetic words" and "turned out to be powerfully prayerful."
Winton describes her painting process as "quite messy" because she works almost as much with her fingers as with brushes.
"It's in the meditative muck of it that the words I'm painting tend to resonate most clearly. In this case, it was almost like a 'lectio divina' of sorts, repeating (Buechner's) challenge over five canvases. What a privilege to be asked to serve in this way! I'm humbled."
And, thanks to the commission, WInton said, "I can finally spell the words 'Frederick Buechner' accurately almost every time I try these days. ... Thanks, Bishop McAllily for that!"
To learn more about Winton and her art, visit her website at www.jaimewintonstudio.com.