GRAND RAPIDS, (WZZM) - ArtPrize has officially ended, but some of the art will stay behind. This includes some paintings at Monroe Community Church done by Paris Vaune Tavonatti-Wartick; the sister of Maya Tavonatti who won ArtPrize two years ago.
The message this week at the Church is about dealing with fear; those tough times when not all of us can stay so tough.
Paris faced her fear the night she was supposed to be happy; the night her sister won ArtPrize 2011. "My mom was all excited because all three of her girls were going to be in ArtPrize, but then she passed away the night Maya won."
Doctors believe she had a brain tumor, and soon after, similar tumors were found in Maya and Paris. "It didn't look like I was going to make it through," said Paris. "I just really had to put my faith and trust in something higher than myself, so I rested in God's lap."
Maya is expected to be fine, but doctors aren't so sure about Paris, even after the tumor was removed. "I was so miserable."
Paris prayed for a new sense of purpose, and then one day, she felt like trying something new and picked up a paint brush. "The visuals kept going to spiritual no matter what I did." She started to see Moses parting the Red Sea. As she finished the painting, her tumor came back.
"When I found out it came back, I already had this (painting) created, and this one had a hand." The outline of a hand she sees near Moses in the painting, she believes to be the hand of God; one she didn't intend to paint. "I find strength and hope in this piece because of that, because I know he was there with Moses. He brought him through, gave him a strong voice and courage, and I want that strong voice and courage myself."
At the end of 400 hours of labor, Paris had come up with a series of three paintings depicting key moments in Moses' life; a story of faith in fear helping her in her own journey.
"In the end, I'll be able to stand there," she said while pointing to the sky in her painting, "and see everything and how I've had a part of it."
Instead of selling the paintings, they will stay at Monroe Community Church for now, and possibly travel to other area churches.