December 26, 2011

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The Right Path

Walking a labyrinth is said to facilitate concentration, meditation, or prayer.

So imagine devoting 32 hours to planning, drawing, and painting one by hand. Judy Hopen, codirector of Labyrinth Enterprises, LL C in St. Louis, created nearly one thousand canvas labyrinths, in addition to working on stone and concrete installations.

Her interest in labyrinths was piqued in 1995 when she met Robert Ferré, the future founder of Labyrinth Enterprises. He and his wife were organizing labyrinth events for First Night, St. Louis’s family-friendly New Year’s Eve festival, and Judy was an eager volunteer. By 1997, she was helping the fledgling company produce canvas labyrinths for church groups, hospitals, schools, camps, and personal use. A high school track coach recently bought one to help her team get mentally balanced before track meets.

Although churches form only a portion of Labyrinth Enterprises’ clientele, the Episcopal Church has played an important role in the popularization of canvas labyrinths. Lauren Artress, a canon priest from San Francisco, created the first canvas labyrinths in the mid-’90s using the medieval Chartres design. It was Ferré’s fascination with this design that inspired him to produce canvas labyrinths in St. Louis.

Now, Labyrinth Enterprises carefully composes the Chartres design, among others, in an 8,000-square-foot studio that allows Judy and her team to work on as many as one 36-foot, three 24-foot, and a couple 12-foot labyrinths at once.

“Our belief is that anybody can walk a labyrinth … so that you can have a little bit of mental respite,” Judy says. “Just be like the kids. They get it—they run.”

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December 26, 2011

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