My colourful community

Refrections captured by Peter Gakunga.

Late in the year 2013, L’Arche Kenya core members got involved in a very interesting art presentation. This was after an invitation from the international Federation of L’Arche, during the 50th anniversary celebrations to showcase the diverse and artistic talents and illustrate the gift of L’Arche through the vision of people with learning disabilities.

After a series of artistic activities, L’Arche Kenya was faced with a task of choosing one item for submission to the online exhibition. There were so many entries and it was not easy to choose among them. Finally we settled for a work prepared by Michael Kariuki; a core member of L’Arche Kenya since 2009. The title of the work is MY COLOURFUL COMMUNITY


The reflections

The community members were further asked to make their reflections on the work which they did on 22nd January 2014.

The process sought to answer three questions.

  1. What could the members see in the artwork?
  2. What do the items drawn represent in the members’ understanding?
  3. What did the artist have in mind?

What could the members see in the artwork?

From the work, the following items were depicted:-

  1. Flowers
  2. A vehicle
  3. Iron box
  4. A cross
  5. A television set
  6. Many colours
  7. A gun
  8. A man on a tree
  9. A cockroach
  10. Many people near the cross
  11. A church
  12. Oranges
  13. Rabbits
  14. A grave
  15. People crossing a bridge
  16. A murram road
  17. Letter “ A”
  18. A computer
  19. Sky
  20. Sheep
  21. A guard
  22. A dog
  23. A house
  24. Bees
  25. River

What do the items drawn represent in the members’ understanding?

We tried to decipher what the artist may have meant and these are a few of the comments:-

  1. The grave represents the many people who have died in L’Arche over the years.
  2. Many dots near the cross represent how L’Arche has been trying to come closer to God in its own way.
  3. The many colours on the work represent the diversity in talents, origin, religion and cultures of people in L’Arche.
  4. L’Arche is and has been on a journey represented by a road and a bridge.
  5. The television represents technology and how L’Arche communities have been communicating.
  6. The cross represents spirituality which is a key pillar in L’Arche while a white background represents peace.
  7. The gun represents times when we have disagreed in L’Arche.
  8. The journey of L’Arche has not been smooth all the way and this is represented by a murram road.
  9. The sheep represent humility which is a necessary ingredient of our life in L’Arche.
  10. Many people have rested in the shade of L’Arche as represented by a tree and a man.
  11. Letter “A” is the first letter of the alphabet. Therefore at 50 years, L’Arche is beginning a new chapter.

What did the artist have in mind?

Finally Michael had a chance to tell us what he intended to communicate. Below are some of his comments:-

  1. The television set reminds him of when members of the community visited his family and watched television.
  2. The cross represents the death and resurrection of Christ and calls us to repentance.
  3. The house is a representation of the various houses of L’Arche.
  4. He also drew a waterfall which is a famous landmark and tourist attraction near L’Arche Kenya and is visited by many people.
  5. He also drew a laptop that he uses at home.
  6. The cross represents the love of Christ for all; both assistants and core members.

The exercise has given us an opportunity to see another side of our core members which we did not know. It has also ignited debate on many pertinent issues as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of L’Arche.