The Breath & the Clay - A Gathering of Faith, Art and Culture

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Art by Gabby Dover.

Art carries the powerful ability to draw our scattered thoughts into focused appreciation for a story that is without words. In the absence of art, or the lack of mingling with those whose veins flow with paint and ink, life becomes stark and the world less friendly. This realization worked its way into my core during the summer of my eighteenth year.

I first encountered art - truly magnificent art - as a young Mennonite girl when I pushed open the door of the old Dunkard Church one day in the Amish community where I was raised. My curiosity was piqued as word had spread through the grapevine that a German artist, quite good they said, had set up shop in Bunker Hill and was painting the history of the Amish and Mennonites. As I tentatively stepped across the threshold, strains of Beethoven's Fifth crashed over me as my eyes swept the room, widening in surprise at the immense stretch of canvas that reached from floor to ceiling.

"Hello, Miss," called a cheery voice from the corner of the room.  I turned to look, and saw a wild-haired,  middle-aged man with twinkling blue eyes waving a paint brush at me, perched precariously atop a step ladder, a palette of paint in hand.

"Excuse my mess, dear.  I'm quite busy and don't have time to keep things tidy.  Would you like a job?" And with that hurried introduction, he climbed down from his ladder, wiping his hands on the towel protruding from the pocket of his white painter's coat.

I turned back to the art.  It was truly the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. He followed me around the room, enthusiastically pointing out the story of my Anabaptist heritage from it's beginnings in Zurich, Switzerland in 1525 to the present day, powerfully portrayed with the masterful strokes of his brush.

This was the beginning of a long friendship with Heinz Gaugel, the brilliant artist who hailed from the Black Forest region of Germany, referenced by many as the Michelangelo of his time.  The years I spent working with him, both in his studio and in other ventures, opened my eyes to a world outside the confines of my sheltered upbringing and birthed in me the deepest appreciation for art and the community derived from artistic souls.

Last year, I had the privilege of hosting some meals for The Breath & the Clay, a yearly gathering of artists, musicians, makers and creative thinkers from around the world, and I am thrilled they will be coming to our city again in March. This event creates the perfect atmosphere to encounter art, build relationships, and evoke inspiration. The weekend involves an art gallery, workshops, performances and keynote speakers centered around the topics of art, faith and culture and will take place in Winston-Salem on March 4-6, 2016.  Get a ticket here and prepare for your own mesmerizing encounter with truly magnificent art.


  1. Nice drawing :)
    Maria V.

  2. thank you for the information provided, we are waiting for the next info