WeMakeStuff Volume 1, eight years in the making, is a beautiful coffee table book featuring 100 artists from Greater Vancouver. It was successfully published and launched in 2012, showcasing the creativity of local Christian artists and innovators.
WeMakeStuff Volume 02 has just become available for pre-purchase. This second book, itself a work of art, will focus on yet another 100 local artists, chosen through public submissions online, with a few people specifically invited by the WeMakeStuff team.
A diverse collection
Publisher and senior editor of WeMakeStuff, David Vandas, says the team has focused on a diverse community, including well-known, experienced artists and also new, young artists with skill beyond their years.
There are those artists who focus on the prophetic arts; those whose approach is very practical; and those who value academia in the arts, including filmmakers. A major theme for David was “to document and archive what God was doing through his creative body.” Some of the artists highlighted are already influential in shaping culture, while others certainly have potential.
Although the dream was birthed through several years of prayer, David heard skepticism revolving around the endeavour. Indeed, with the percentage of people who attend church being such a small percentage of the general population, and only a small part of that group outwardly caring about art, the target audience seems minimal.
But with success of the first volume, says David, it was clear this “was a work of the Spirit. When sales went over [the expected amount] no one could deny that this is wanted and it is important.”
Themes of understanding
Deep themes of understanding and healing have taken place since WeMakeStuff was released.
“Many artists are either misunderstood or not understood. If you’re a Christ-centred artist, your faith is not valued by your industry peers, and your craft is not understood and therefore not valued by your church family, often. So many artists have left the institutional church,” explains David. This project was created as a rallying point for artists to come together and present their art without having to explain it.
WeMakeStuff provides a safe place for the meeting of minds, hearts and vulnerabilities of artists who pursue excellence and who, often because of their faith, find themselves in an isolated space. The Facebook page has helped over 400 Christian artists find community.
Healing and restoration have come through WeMakeStuff. Of the numerous stories he’s heard, David tells of a middle-aged artist whose mother read his piece in the book, then called him in tears to say, “I now understand you.”
Art and the church
In recent history, many churches have been reluctant to encourage the imagination of artists, especially those whose work is not perceived as being a straightforward depiction of, or a connection to, the gospel story.
David believes the Holy Spirit is at work to bring art back into the church. Four denominations have reached out with a desire to integrate with WeMakeStuff.
“It’s bridging the gap between artists and the church,” he says. Often churches desire to become more involved in the creative arts, but have no idea where to begin. “So it’s a conversation starter. Rather than have the answers, there’s a need for people to speak together to explore, without defining exactly how it should look. A big part of art is more about asking questions than answering.”
David says many of us were brought up with an emphasis on having the answers rather than asking questions and exploring: “At this point in history much of the church doesn’t create an easy platform for asking some of those things.”
By the same token, many Christian artists are not looking for a platform to manifest their gifts within the institutional church. Called to influence culture through their creativity in the marketplace, they look to their church fellowships for vocational encouragement and spiritual support.
The book highlights the imagination of many artists whose work stems from their passion to be co-creators with God, but is not necessarily suitable for church gatherings. “We are showcasing the creative overflow of Christ-centred people,” says David.
For an artist to follow Christ obediently is to be a co-creator, to allow the Holy Spirit to give vision for what can be. Making ‘stuff’ glorifies God both in the church and in the marketplace.
As with the first installment, consumers will bring this project to life using a crowdfunding model. A kickoff took place September 14, at 12 Stones Church in New Westminster. Online sales and sponsorships of WeMakeStuff Volume 02 will run for a month.
The WeMakeStuff team says they need to raise $38,000 to print a minimum run of 1,000 books. If they don’t raise that sum by October 15 the book will not go to print.
This article originally appeared in The Light; it is re-posted by permission.