How many times have I heard people bemoan the lack of art – or even the appreciation of art – in the modern church? That may have been legitimate in the past, but the tide has clearly turned. Here are 10 signs of the new creativity, all from Metro Vancouver.
The Public Art Program of the City of Vancouver commissioned 10 new artist projects “to honour and celebrate” the city’s Year of Reconciliation, which ends this month. The banners will remain on display until October.
The Year of Reconciliation “acknowledges the negative cultural impacts and stereotypes that resulted from Canada’s residential school system” and was timed to coincide with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission gathering that took place in Vancouver last fall.
“In preparation for this commission, said Brian, “I found it important to reflect on reconciliation in my own life. Embedded in all the creases and folds of my own hands is a complicated and unique history. As an immigrant [from Hong Kong], I was accepted and blessed with the abundance of this great country and I am proud to be Canadian.
“So how then would a nation of people with unique paths and histories approach truth and reconciliation? In this series, I hope to invite the country to be in a posture of openness. When our hands are open, we are ready to learn, grow, give, receive and share. It is only in this place of openness that we can properly approach healing and building of our future. In many cultures, open hands are a symbol of hospitality, love and the human spirit.”
Brian described his work at a recent WeMakeStuff performance evening.
His website indicates that he is part of Collective at Tenth Church, “a group of creative professionals working in the field of media arts, design and fine arts. We seek to explore our faith as we work in our respective fields through prayer, scripture and community.”
A 2012 interview with Brian on the Tenth site explored his faith and his art:
“God is a creator. He paints, sculpts, dances, sings, speaks into our lives. Art is a reflection of ourselves just as we are reflections of God. We make things because it’s in our nature to see beauty and to celebrate the process of making. As God has created the world and us in it, we are still being moulded. As we pursue art, we are entering a process of creation that is full of love, intent, and grace. Just as our God does.”
“When the Truth and Reconciliation Commission announced it would fund residential school memorials through its Commemoration Initiative, Wyss sent in a proposal for a monument on the land of her former school.
“She suggested a carving of a boy and a girl, standing back to back on a concrete base . . . The TRC did not accept the proposal, but various donors stepped in to support the erection of the memorial . . .
We’re in for a real treat next month, with two visits by Makoto Fujimura.
Second, Regent College will host Fujimura July 28 as he screens his documentary Golden Sea and answers questions about it. Golden Sea is a monograph, a film and an exhibition – this evening will focus on the film.
Speaking of Regent College, it hosts Lookout Gallery, which for years has presented a series of strong art shows. Next month (July 3 – August 1) you can see the work of S. Brooke Anderson. Lookout invites you to join them for the opening reception of her Spirit of Truth exhibition on Thursday (July 3), from 4:30 – 7:30 pm.
She says of her work: “My paintings often depict an idealization of the landscape, as a healing place where miracles may occur. This body of work entitled “Spirit of Truth” explores both the seen and the unseen, reflecting my conviction that “the presence of God is everywhere, one needs only to look.”
5. Right of Passage (Trinity Western University)
“Interested artists are encouraged to offer artwork that interprets scripture readings and themes within the Christian Year. A list of the scripture readings used in Year B of the Revised Common Lectionary can be found here.
“There is one page available for an image for each of the following seasons: Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Holy Week and Easter. There are five pages available for art in the Season after Pentecost. On these pages we seek images that portray Pentecost, All Saints Day and the Reign of Christ as well as images particular to biblical texts included in the lectionary readings during this season of growth in discipleship.”
Check out pastor Ed Searcy’s Holy Scribbler blog for more information.
7. Indigenous and Mennonite Artistic Traditions (Sts’Ailes Lhawathet Lalem Retreat Centre)
On August 21 – 24, Mennonite Central Committee BC’s Aboriginal Neighbours Program is putting on a Sharing Our Stories conference, which will celebrate and explore the unique Mennonite and Indigenous artistic traditions of B.C. residents.
This reflective and collaborative weekend includes cross-cultural dialogue and the opportunity to experience an Indigenous Sunday morning worship service.
Special guests include local visual, musical, narrative, and poetic artists such as Glenda Klassen, Brander McDonald, Yummo, Harley and Sue Eagle, the J.D. Miner Band, and more.
The Aboriginal Neighbours program, run by Darryl Klassen, “strives to foster respectful relations and understanding with Aboriginal people by creating opportunities for dialogue, service and learning for our churches and placing MCC workers in aboriginal communities.”
(My family knows the value of Darryl’s work first-hand, having accompanied him on a camping trip to three native communities in the Interior of BC about 20 years ago. That trip proved formative in our lives.)
Anyone who has seen Volume 1 of WeMakeStuff, featuring 100 artists, has held in their hands the evidence of a vibrant arts movement in the local Christian community. The good news is that Volume 2 is on the horizon, due out this fall.
9. Jenny Harkinson: MP StudioWorks
MP StudioWorks “is a studio space and gallery that seeks to inspire the creative energy of the Downtown Eastside Community,” in the words of community life facilitator and artist-in-residence Jenny Hawkinson. ”Together. novice and experienced painters, carvers, potters, sculptors and musicians explore artistic expression and entrepreneurship as a pathway to lasting change.”
Jenny and the MP StudioWorks artists love to invite the community in to see their work, as in the Eastside Culture Crawl, or get out and about, as they did earlier this month at Fair in the Square in Victory Square
(Right across Princess Street from MP StudioWorks is Union Gospel Mission, which hosted an art show last fall, with help from Emily Carr University Instructor, Jeanne Krabbendam, and another during the Eastside Culture Crawl.)
Earlier this year, Rev. Michael Batten tucked the paintings of the Stations of the Cross series by Chris Woods under his arm as he moved from St. David of Wales Anglican Church to St. Thomas Anglican Church. St. David closed due to declining membership in February, and Michael took over at St. Thomas shortly afterwards; both churches are in East Vancouver. (The move did have the blessing of both the diocese and the artist, for the record.)
The Vancouver Courier did an article on the move at the time: “The paintings depict the suffering of Christ on the way to the cross in Vancouver of the 1990s. Woods used friends and family as models for the pieces . . .
“It was a really great experience,” he said. “The reason I took the commission in the first place was because Christian themes were sort of the bread and butter for artists for a 1,000 years essentially before the camera was invented . . . So if you were a young artist, you would work with religious themes – that’s where the work was.”
“[The dedication and blessing] was a very vaulted and important ceremony and lots of holy water was thrown about. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience and certainly for me, at the centre of it, to have created works of art that are literally considered sacred – that’s something I treasure definitely.”
For a very helpful article about what can artists teach the church, read The Art of Embodiment by Alissa Wilkinson.