NORFOLK — The Norfolk Church of Christ Congregational’s new social justice initiative, “We Love All Colors,” recently was installed on the church’s front lawn at 12 Litchfield Road.
The art installation is made up of seven Adirondack chairs that have been painted in seven different colors representing people’s skin tones.
“We’ve had conversations in the church about how we wanted to take a stand for racial justice,” Church Pastor Erick Olsen said. “But we wanted to do it in a way that is not necessarily confrontational, but invitational. That’s how we came around to the idea of Adirondack chairs. We have seen at several churches rainbow-colored chairs that representing LGBTQIA+ inclusivity. However, we wanted to do something specific to racial justice.”
For the project, the church collaborated with Rev. Dr. Shelley Best of The Redeemer’s African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church in Plainville.
“Previously, she did an art project as part of a recent sabbatical that was working with, and exploring, the different spectrum of colors that could be included in the word ‘black,” Olsen said. “She had many hundreds of different shades she was using as part of this interpretive study of race and identity and we turned to her and asked her to advise us. She gave us specific Benjamin Moore paint colors that she thought would be fitting to represent a diverse racial spectrum of colors for this art installation.”
However, Olsen said that when the church decided to use Adirondack chairs for the art installation, they did not know how expensive these types of chairs are.
“We went to Olde Farms Furniture in Canaan, and I described to the owners what the church wanted to do,” Olsen said. “I asked them if there was any way to get a deal on these chairs, and the owners decided to donate the chairs to the church. These chairs are worth over $1,000.”
The paint and painting labor for the chairs has been donated by Mad River Painting of Norfolk.
A celebration of the art installation was held on Tuesday, Sept. 14 at the church.
“The purpose of this art installation is that we want people to recognize that, no matter what a person’s skin color is, they deserve to be celebrated and affirmed,” Olsen said. “People should all have open and equal opportunities for what we refer to in this country as life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It would mean taking concrete and direct steps to end systemic racism, which I know some people contest. But to know people of color and to talk to them, and to ask them about their experiences, I think that’s an important step.”
For more information about the Norfolk Church of Christ go to its website at http://www.norfolkctucc.org/
Photo by Church Pastor Erick Olsen