Saturday, July 30, 2005

Thoughts on Formation and Creativity

How does spiritual formation happen through the arts? It seems to be a quite ambiguous process, at least for me. Finishing up my time at Regent last week, I had no artwork until the last three days, and then a painting began to emerge. I had been drawing a tree in my sketch book, and it suddenly became Christ. I had done nothing but pray, complain a bit to the Lord, and keep drawing. It was then a process to get this image on canvas, and even more of a process to work through the color problems in the painting. I know that the Lord was forming something deep within me during this work, but I still cannot clearly articulate what this was, or how it happened. There seems to be a great mystery in creativity that we cannot understand, but must obey. He gives us gifts that we must struggle to get out, and somehow, in that struggle, he deepens our connection to Him. How awesome.

Saturday, July 16, 2005


Okay, I was incorrect! A "tint" has white added. A "shade" has black added. A hue is just a color. So my whole metaphor down there doesn't really work out, but you get the idea still, right?

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Tents and Hues

First of all, please forgive me for the cheesy title...I couldn't resist. If you are unaware (as I was before art classes), a "hue" is a color with white added to it. There can be many hues of green, for instance, according to how much white is added. A "tint" is the opposite, a color with black added. But in this instance I am talking about a tent, like for camping.

Two days ago in my painting/theology class, we were discussing a modern art work by a woman named Tracey Emin. The piece is an actual camping tent with a light inside. On the walls of the tent you see listed, in big embroidered letters, names of people. There are other messages in small squares also inside the tent, and a mattress on the floor. The title of the work is "Everyone I Have Ever Slept With." The names include all the bed-sharers in the artist's life, from sexual partners and family members, to her own aborted child. You can check out some pictures at

So, we talked a bit about this, and what it was saying about culture, and people. There is color in the tent, but there is a haunting void. There is a story being told, and you almost feel trapped in it. The story is almost imploding on itself (maybe even on the artist?). I began processing what it would look like for Christians to respond to a piece like this.

Over the past year, the Lord has been using the Biblical image of a tent in my life, and in the life of the Asbury community. This tent is a tabernacle. In this tent is a barren woman who is being asked prophetically to expand her borders. To open her doors (Isaiah 54) strengthen her stakes for the Lord's blessing. In praying some of this scripture for the Asbury community, it was as if God was saying, "Make room! Get ready! Everyone gather under. I am doing a new thing among you." This tent was a community tent, full of redemptive relationship. Healing. Open. A place where the Lord dwells. A bridal tent. Now, as all of this was running through my mind, I was exploding to share with the group. My mind was twisting up against itself as I wondered what such a tent would look like.

I have realized now, a couple of days later, that I am called to create that tent. A redemptive tent. A Story Tent. In it is a story and a community much bigger than the one Emin depicted in her piece. Artistically, Emin's tent speaks volumes. It is creative and clear. The emotions are emptiness and woundedness.

As Christians, even in the arts, we are called to bind up wounds, to pour out all we have that His Love might fill others. So, to get back to the hues...I want to make a tent with white added. The purity and light and grace of a greater Story. A redemptive covering holding inside all the names of those who rest under it.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Creating Connections...

Today I started my second class here at Regent. It is a studio art class, focused on painting as a celebration of Creation. We started the day getting to know one another and then began to talk about theological reflection through observation. This idea fascinates me. My heart was warmed as the professor, Dr. Lindsay Farrell, said the progression of response should move from head to heart to hand. (Remembering Asbury's "Where head and heart go hand in hand.") As is one of my mantras, the process of drawing, and of art in general is not so much contingent on your hand or wrist movement as it is on "re-learning" how to see. It is a mental process which requires much patience.

After chapel this morning, on the walk back to class, we were told to pick up an ordinary object from nature, something we would normally walk right by without another glance. From this tiny object (mine was a dark purple leaf), worlds seemed to burst forth today in sketch and color. In this process, we are learning to see (and to create) by seeing the extraordinary in the ordinary. We are learning to have Kingdom eyes. The intricacy and depth of God's Creation become evident when we take the time to look at it. These extraordinary things we observe move us to act, to create, to offer a hand to the "unnoticed" man on the street. May the Story of Creation and Redemption burst forth these next two weeks, in sketch and color, in our response to His marvelous works. In many ways, I am starting to see, the arts can be the missing connection between the head and the hand.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Try number two...welcome to my blog!

Hey friends,
This is my second attempt at a blog...I'm not sure what happened the first time. This time, though, it is working! I am in Vancouver, British Columbia studying art and theology at Regent College. I am currently taking a course called "The Spiritual Vision of the Great Artists". We walked through a bit of art history and church history, and are now taking each day to investigate the spiritual life of a different artist. We have studied Durer and Michelangelo so far. I must say the class is fascinating. What passion is required to be a true artist! It seems that early in life Michelangelo's art was fueled by a mix of his own talent, pride, and a drive to create, whereas later in life, by the Creator, Himself. We seem to be born with an innate drive to create, in one way or another, but it often takes a lifetime to understand even a touch of what we are doing: participating in worship and redemption with the Lord (how frighteningly humbling)! In conclusion of this brief statement, I have decided that I MUST go to Italy. Simply watching videos of the Sistine Chapel ceiling brought tears. But, for now, it is nice to be in a class surrounded by people who have similar passions.