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Literature inspires art

Naomi Benarons debut novel inspired an exhibit at the Sandy library


by: CONTRIBUTED ART - Watercolor artist Beth Verheyden of Boring produced this creative rendition of a young runner on a trail above Rwandas Lake Kivu at the dawning of a new day. One of 19 artworks in mixed media, Verheydens image is titled Greeting of the Dawn, and the entire exhibit by more than a dozen artists is on display at the Sandy Public Library until Aug. 25.Rwanda’s dark and violent landscape during the 1994 genocide is the setting for Naomi Benaron’s gripping debut novel, “Running the Rift.”

The 10-year tale follows a gifted runner, Jean Patrick, who traverses a truly dangerous course on his way to what he hopes is the Olympics.

But his youthful years in the ’80s are troubled with racial turmoil. He’s a Tutsi, and the Hutu people have plans to eliminate the Tutsis with machetes and clubs.

This setting causes readers of “Running the Rift” to run through the pages as if they were imitating eventual world-class runner Jean Patrick.

The disturbing setting also has the effect of inspiring artistic endeavor, and the Sandy Public Library will play host to another summer exhibit of literature inspiring art — organized by Kara Pilcher, an artist from Boring and Silverton.

This summer’s exhibit is already adorning the library’s display wall, and is the result of the influence of Benaron’s literary forte.

The book is well researched, and its author has spent years working with genocide survivors in Rwanda. After immersing herself in the country’s culture, history, language and folklore, Benaron is well qualified to speak of historical happenings many would prefer to remain hidden.

The mixed media exhibit in the Sandy library will be on display during regular library hours until Aug. 25, but Pilcher and the library’s staff are expecting people to flock to the exhibit in the same way Benaron’s readers rushed through the pages to find out if Jean Patrick and his family survive the machete-wielding onslaught of Hutus.

Library Director Beth Scarth is excited to be able to offer this unique exhibit to local residents and library patrons.

“The Sandy Library staff has been delighted to be the beneficiary of (Pilcher’s) efforts these past summers,” Scarth said. “The artists who participate in these projects are extraordinarily creative, giving us visually exciting and thought-provoking exhibits. And what could be more appropriate at the library than art inspired by literature?”

The Sandy Public Library, at 38980 Proctor Blvd. in downtown Sandy, is open seven days a week. The library is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each Saturday and 1-5 p.m. Sundays.

For more information, call 503-668-5537 or send email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..