Artists & the Church
God blesses each of us with various talents and gifts that we may freely exercise in the world and the Church. Some abilities seem to be more 'usable' than others in the Church; instrumentalists, for example, can readily work in the music ministry to enhance services. There are some gifts, though, that haven't necessarily taken a fuller role in worship/the greater Church life.
In this case, I'm talking about art.
So, my fellow visual artists, how have you/your churches exercised/utilized your talents? I am currently in dialog with people in my church about this subject. I would REALLY like to start some form of college Christian (or even interfaith!) art group, and I'd love to hear your experiences in regards to this topic.
I hope this leads to some interesting conversation!
I'm not a visual artist...but I play one on TV
Instead, I am a Pastor. The questions you are asking are exciting ones to me... I hope they are to the pastoral staff at your church.
Here are some ideas that I have experienced.
1. Visual artist (painter) paints an oil or water color on a fairly large canvass during the worship service. Obviously the composition and its execution are planned well in advance so that certain images appear on the canvas at certain points in the worship. A quick and shallow example off the top of my head might be that a landscape is laid out first. A person is added in foreground. A cross appears on the hill in the distance, a sunrise is added at the conclusion of the service.
2. three dimensional fabric art that shapes and defines the worship space drawing the peoples attention to certain places in the room. Banners are the most common form of this but vestments, communion table design , fabric hanging sculptures that move with airflow. Long bolts of brightly colored cloth that soar overhead.
3. i attended a national conference for preachers this spring where all of the worship was held in a large music auditorium. It was not particularly beautiful or worshipful space but they had engaged this guy from Kansas city, MO (his business is called "Gospel Colors" I think) he's a gay guy and its him and his partner who are the business. his partner is the business end of things and he is the artist. They transformed the stage with fabric art ... everyday of the conference it was different. It was amazing! He sold vestments and banners all during the conference.
Anyway... its exciting that you are thinking in these ways, kiddo! sounds like you have a ministry taking shape inside of you. Blessings on that!
Ooo! Ooo! how about this! A huge sculpture in the center of the room (chairs arranged in a circle around it) somehow the worshippers participate in the sculpting. Clay? Paper mache? fabric? junk? I don't know but somehow everyone participates and it is focused on a theme in worship. Maybe its a cross they are building together and people in the congregation are writing sins on scraps of cloth or pieces of wood and then glueing or nailing them to the cross!
I am always looking for ways to introduce visual arts into our worship. Some of that comes in the way of decoration, as in Advent and Christmas decoration. I also have found ways to include sculpture and painting and fabric art. I'm working with a retired art teacher to create some visuals for advent this year.
Once, for a statewide gathering of our denomination, I was asked to transform a blank space into a worship space. I used mosaics and fabrics to do that. Somewhere on this site are the pics of the mosaics.
I also have this thing for experiencing worship with ALL the senses. We commonly use hearing (sermon, music) seeing (reading the hymns and scriptures) touch (holding the hymnal, greeting each other with hugs and handshakes) taste (during communion) BUT smell is a tough one, especially for protestants. We don't usually use incense. Last Maundy Thursday, our service was held in the fellowship hall, with the tables placed in the shape of a large cross. I purchased candles that smelled like grapes, and in the kitchen off the hall, I baked the bread for the communion. When people arrived they could smell the fresh bread and the grape scent of the candles. It added an extra dimension to the worship.
Sometimes, I will create a tableau for certain services, not art that is meant to be permanent, but rather a collection of things meant to invoke a memory or image.
I have seen other churches do some creative things too. I recall one piece in which papier mache casts of hands and forearms of men were attached to a board that represented a table. There were all the elements of the last supper, a pitcher, a plate, bread, etc. and 13 sets of hands, all of which ended at the edge of the table. It was entirely white and very impressive.
Art and kids
A friend of mine by day is an image curator/librarian for an art book publishing compnay. By night, he paints. He has had shows locally. One of the things he does at church is work with kids in our inner-city neighborhood ministry. He gives them permission to create art, not verbally but by the way he treats them and respects them. The art they create is not churchy, but it is spiritual in many cases. With art and music suffering in the public schools, this is an important adjunct to our ministry. So far he hasn't brought it into a formal liturgical setting.
While not primarily identifying as a visual artist myself, i do 'dabble' a bit, and my partner's an artist.
At my parish, artists are very valued, and creativity is encouraged. This is reflected most clearly in at least two of our established ministries: the Aesthetics Guild and the Icon Guild. Most recently, the Aesthetics Guild, in cooperation with the Altar Guild, created a beautiful ofrenda (traditional Day of the Dead altar - for All Saints' Day) along the ledges above the southwestern banco seating along the wall behind the regular altar. It was very beautiful (and large - like 30 feet long!)
The Icon Guild has produced many beautiful icons which adorn the parish, and are sometimes utilized during liturgy (for example, during the Palm Sunday procession, when the large "Not Made by Hands" is carried in the lead). The IG symposiums are open to all, and while the focus is definitely on traditional iconography styles, participants aren't restricted to that. Everyone is encouraged to exercise their creativity, and materials are made available to everyone, from children to elders.
Art - poignancy on display
I am bad at art, despite that I was in my school's Art Society for years.
Anyway, this talk of art made me recall this one time where I was at a church that caters for LGBTs. I was utterly confused when I needed the bathroom. There was a Rupaul pic on one door and a KD Lang on another. I know I should have picked Rupaul but I identify with KD more. Incidentally, none of the washrooms have urinals. That was a gender-bender for me.
I love photography, and I personally consider that to be art. The most recent one that stays with me is where a baby wears the label "homosexual" around his wrist. I almost cried, for I have never pictured someone gay to be that young, and was touched by its vulnerability, and mine reflected.
found it: http://www.soulforce.org/forums/show...8&postcount=18
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