June 22, 2024


You are Your Only Limit

Art and science on climate change

2 min read

The science of the climate crisis has been available for decades. Yet still, many dismiss it as unimportant or irrelevant, even as sea levels continue to rise and extreme weather has become a common and tragic occurrence. How to reach people? While science appeals to the mind, art can touch the heart. To make change, we need both. Pastor Jerry Duggins founded the Westminster Art Festival, an annual event at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Portage, to raise awareness of various environmental and ecological issues by reaching the heart and not just the mind. This year’s theme is “Grounded.”

“The Westminster Art Festival started in 2013 with the help of a grant from the Beim Foundation,” says Duggins. “We had a member on the board—Jim McKim—who came to me and said, I have some money I want to give to the church for development of the arts. So I developed the concept of the art festival.”


A conversation with Jerry Duggins

The environmental angle, Duggins says, “flows out of our sense of faith at Westminster. We have some core values, one of which is the arts and music, and another which is earth care. Those are things that we care deeply about and gave direction to this outreach. The other thing that fed into this is a purpose statement which we call our Intention Statement. Part of that says that we are interested in engaging the world, not on our terms but the world as it is. We view this outreach as an invitation to local artists to participate with us in delivering an environmental message. That flows directly from our sense of faith in the church.”

This year’s theme of “Grounded,” Duggins says, is meant to focus on land use. Artists have brought differing perspectives on the topic—from the indigenous ownership of land to the relationship of humankind to land. While some artists took on the theme literally, others treated it metaphorically. Visual arts juror is artist Conrad Kaufman, and the literary arts juror is poet Anita Skeen.

The exhibit opened to the public on April 27, 2024, at the Westminster Presbyterian Church, 1515 Helen Avenue in Portage, and will continue through June 13, 2024. Admission is free and open to the public. Hours are Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., closed Memorial Day, and open Saturday, June 1, 10 a.m. to noon, Sunday, May 19, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Closing celebration will take place on Thursday, June 13, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

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