In my resident province of Manitoba (Canada), Mennonites have had a very strong cultural presence, and so usually referring to my Mennonite heritage holds some meaning for people here. Consequently, I use the term Mennonite in artist statements as short-hand for a number of different theological ideas, and cultural traits that pertain to my work. I'd like to use these "Mennonite for Short" blog posts to expound on these references, searching for the roots of what I mean by them. But first, a bit of background.
Mennonites originated largely in Switzerland, Germany and the Netherlands during the sixteenth century Reformation. Some of their core articles of faith include adult baptism, and pacifism, which got them into a lot of trouble. In search of religious freedom, my ancestors migrated from the Netherlands to what was then Prussia, then on to Ukraine. It was in Ukraine, living for an extended period of time in insular colonies (they were forbidden by Catherine II from proselytizing their Orthodox neighbours) that a Russian Mennonite culture emerged. Between 1874 and 1953, three waves of Mennonites migrated to Canada.