Bill talks with church member Mignon Dupepe about her work as an artist and the Kenilworth Union labyrinth she helped to create two years ago.

Bringing People Together and Making Connections

Bill: Hi friends, my name is Bill Evertsberg. I’m one of the ministers at Kenilworth Union Church, and this is Douglas, my assistant minister. And I have a wonderful guest here with me. I decided that I wanted to stay in touch with you during August while I’m out of town, and so what I decided to do is to interview interesting people from Kenilworth Union Church who also have a home near me.

This is Mignon Dupepe. I’ve known her longer than the rest of you because we’ve been neighbors up here during the month of August for a long time, for 25 years. And you’ve been coming for like 30 years, right?

Mignon: Yes, so I’ve been coming up, my husband John Snyder, his family has a long history of coming up here. Actually his father, his family, they were cherry farmers over on Snyder Road and then his mom, they had this cabin before World War II. We started coming up right after we got married and have been bringing our kids up, so we get to spend a couple weeks each summer up here and I wish it was longer. This summer it’s been a lot longer between everyone’s schedules.

Bill: It’s a good place to quarantine, right?

Mignon: Yes, exactly. We’re lucky.

Bill: And so the rest of you at Kenilworth Union, many of you with Kenilworth Union, might know Mignon because she is a wonderful artist and she lends the church her artistic gifts. So tell us what you do professionally, Mignon. It looks like you’re into art therapy?

Mignon: Yes, so I’m a licensed clinical depression counselor and registered art therapist, and so actually right now I do groups, I do art therapy groups with Institute for Therapy for the Arts, and so I do that at schools and also at acute mental health facilities. And then I do groups through NorthShore University Health Systems and I have my own private practice as well, so I’m really involved in that.

So I really enjoy doing art and crave workshops with other sort of community and different not-for-profit groups, so Licorice Project and Twist Out Cancer. And then I really enjoy doing work with the church and groups like, we were just talking, I find it really meaningful to sort of use art bringing people together, making connections and for it to sort of share this common experience together.

Bill: Great. And most prominently, you helped the church build this impressive labyrinth. You and Cindy Fuller accomplished this almost single-handedly, right? Tell us how you got that going and how you brought so many church members into that project.

Mignon: We, for the 125th celebration, we had a committee that came together and we were sort of brainstorming ideas of how we could sort of engage other church members being involved, and so we did the first couple of Sundays with the Sunday school classes; we did—some of the beautiful drawings the kids did of the church and we used those to make notecards; and then we wanted to somehow include all church members, so we started thinking about painting rocks and then creating some type of path, and then we’re like “let’s do a labyrinth. That makes sense you know, with the church.”

And it sort of tied that all together, so we were able to work with all the different age groups and church members in between services or at meetings, and so everybody, I mean we almost had all participation. So we worked, and then it was great working with the staff at the church, too, because then we were able to figure out a space for the labyrinth and worked with the landscapers and so it was a great experience actually. It took the whole year, but we were really pleased with the outcome.

Bill: Yes, thank you so much for that almost immeasurable gift to the church. All the time you gave to us, and the end result is so beautiful. Mignon was telling me before we turned that camera on that she visits regularly herself and that she’s planning maybe to repair some of the paint on these rocks?

Mignon: Yes, it needs a little TLC. There are a couple of rocks that have the paint’s kind of worn off, so I’m going to go in and touch up, put a coat of orange on it. It’s a nice little—if you haven’t visited, it’s a sweet little enclosed space, sort of right in front of the church.

Bill: Yes, right right, and so I’m going to get some people who know more about how to do this than I do to put a picture of the labyrinth next to our little video here. So, have you known all your life that you had artistic talent and wanted to serve God and the community in this way? How did this all develop?

Mignon: I kind of call myself an art explorer, because I’m not a real skilled artist, I just really enjoy the process of exploring art materials, and I enjoy coming together with other people and creating something beautiful. So I think that, and Kenilworth Union for me, has always been such a community and like a safe place to sort of share some of these ideas. So I enjoy that and I think I was involved with creations and A Joyful Noise for eleven years with Laurie Walker, so I really enjoyed the whole process. I love that sense of connection and community with art being this sort of nice little container.

Bill: Well just to mention those names, Laurie Walker and Cindy Fuller and Mignon Dupepe, there’s so much talent and it’s such a rich community. Mignon, thank you for being my neighbor up here. When I came to Kenilworth in 2014, I didn’t know a lot of people, thanks to this place, thanks partly to you. There’s just no way we can ever thank you for all of the artistic contributions that you bring—

Mignon: It’s all of us together.

Bill: —to  enrich and beautify the life on Kenilworth Avenue. You are really a treasure and a gift from God.

Mignon: Thank you for creating such a wonderful community at our church. I hope people in the future will use the labyrinth, and pray there. Reflection and calm.

Bill: Thank you, Mignon. A perfect day. God bless you.