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Inquiry into Gifts:
information about images in the exhibition

page in site

image title

image notes

Emily's Sonogram

This image blends a sonogram and a photo of Emily after she was born.

2-three chromosomes
Genetics VI--Amniocentesis

This image starts with the amniocentesis report for Emily. The three chromosomes instead of a pair in 21st set are what cause Down syndrome. That triplet is enlarged a couple of places in this image. The color is not part of the original report.

3-Emily's birth
Amniocentesis and Sonogram I, II, and III

Image elements here include the amniocentesis report, the sonogram and a photo.

Normal Curve III

This image includes a normal curve from a Psychology textbook, along with a description of the theory bhttp://www.hotass-girls.com/content/Galleries/didser/04/0725/didser_07.jpgehind it. The handwritten notes reflect on the awareness that there are people in unusual situations and they are still people. (link to detail of the handwritten note)

Normal Curve I--with the ocean

The combination of the normal curve and images from the natural world brings up interesting ideas for me. In many ways natural phenomena can be predicted by that kind of statistical perspective, of course. But I do think the combination in images shows the ways that perspective can be misused to shape our thinking in ways that distort our perception.

Normal Curve IV

This image describes a drive for excellence, a perspective that would have felt (and probably still feels) quite familiar to me. It is easy to live surrounded by an environment that sees anything of real significance happening in the elite group of students or athletes or musicians or . . .

7-fixing Emily
Emily Corrected I

This, of course, deals with trying to shape your child to conform to expectations that come from unreliable models. The kinds of things that have been fixed are traits typical of children with Down syndrome, but the same process happens with all of our children. I hope it is clear that the hybrid, the 'fixed, Emily is way below Emily as she is already.

Wheat II

This is another image where the natural world is changing to fit the model of what normal should be like. It is worth saying that I see good uses for statistical thinking and am not critiquing the tool itself. I just hope we see it as one way of thinking that works well in some contexts and poorly in others.

Wheat I

This works with the same thoughts as the image on page 8, Wheat II.

10-hope and fear
The Oxygen Tent

This is an image of Emily in an oxygen tent in the hospital when she had pneumonia. The angel image is a small pin that my mother gave us in the time we knew Emily was going to have Down syndrome, but before she was born. This kind of image is very real for me, but the cliches and misconceptions (to my way of thinking) about what having an angel present make it a challenge to handle well.

11-story about evil
Genetics IV

This, again, is a colored, enlarged image of the amniocentesis image of the 21st chromosome triplet.

12-story continued
Normal Curve V

The image of the children is from a photo session at a Down syndrome support group we attended early in Emily's life. The other images in the collage are probably recognizable. There is a sense, for me, that there are parts of life that are easy to not notice. What people are able to do together, how God connects with life, faith, fear, hope are all related thoughts. One thing I hope art can do is to help consider these things we are aware of, but do not fit some other ways of thinking easily.

Emily and the Sky II

This image is probably also related to the previous page's, Normal Curve V on page 12.

Emily's Eyes II

This is a kind of portrait of Emily.

Children III

This is from a photo session at a support group for family's with children who have Down syndrome.


I gave this presentation to a weekly chapel at Goshen College while Emily was in Kindergarten. At the end of it Emily's class came up and sang. It was very moving. They were a great group of kids and Emily loved being with them. Emily, along with many others, can be an ambassador for kids with special needs to our world and many people respond in amazing ways.

17-unexpected grace
Book of Job--series II(b)

This image came out of a set of images I did to accompany a series of sermons Eric Masannari did on the biblical book of Job. Emily's image here is not connected with Down syndrome, just connected with childhood. The thoughts for me are related to the ideas in the image notes for page 12. I really appreciate Eric's thinking and love the way images and writing work together. The images and sermon are presented in an online publication called Mennonite Life. Answer Me: Reflections on the Book of Job.

18-indigo bunting
Emily and the Angels

In the notes for page 10 I talked about the pin that is the source for the angel image and about the attention to making an image that is real for me, not cliche nor too easy. Part of that question, for me, is exploring what is holy. For me holiness is rooted in the material of life. Annie Dillard writes wonderfully from this perspective. A holy life includes the pain and fear as much as it does the sublime. How do you make an image about that? How do you think about it and how do you live it? Emily is one of my most important teachers about these thoughts.

19-god's work
Emily at Three

Another portrait of Emily.


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