“Art is the activity by which a person, having experienced an emotion, intentionally transmits it to others” – Leo Tolstoy
Have you ever been wrapped up in the beauty, curiosity, or wonder of something outside of yourself? A child’s first smile, a time-worn painting, a photo capturing the devastation of war, a mountain’s edge, the rhythm of the ocean, architecture that warps reality? These things created by artists (or the Artist) have the ability to speak to the depths of our being in transformative ways. They bring us joy, make us thirsty for justice, cause us to reflect on our perspectives, remind us of our smallness. Art speaks, with or without words, of the realities of our world and the wonder of what is beyond it.
Art asks questions we dare not ask. Art pushes boundaries of understanding. Art communicates reality in a way that words can’t describe. Art transforms the artist, the curator, and the spectator. Art consoles. Art explodes mental categories. Art appeals to the heart when logic fails.
In other words, art is important! But with all of this talk of the importance of art…where is it in the church today? Let me share with you a verse:
“He has filled them with skill to do every sort of work done by an engraver or by a designer or by an embroiderer in blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen, or by a weaver—by any sort of workman or skilled designer.”1
My old boss wrote that in a thank you card to me as I was leaving that job. I had read that story of the building of the Tabernacle in Exodus many times but suddenly he drew my attention to a beautiful reality in the middle of the passage: artists were made to serve the church. That’s not to say that preschool teachers, counselors, speakers, or administrators weren’t created to serve the church…it just means that artists were skilled to do that too and they can serve the church in their own unique way. As artists.
But…where is the space for this kind of service? Where is the opportunity for communication beyond a blog or a sermon or a sunday school lesson? Where do the photographers, the painters, the mixed-media artists, the woodworkers, the pastel artists, the graphic artists, the cinematographers, the poets serve? Where do they create and speak and share and teach us?
The reality is, quite honestly, there isn’t that space. Unless you’re fortunate enough to be on staff at a church as a graphic designer2 chances are your unique artistic voice and gifts are too quiet in the church. And when one member of the body suffers, we all suffer. When one member of the body is quiet, we all miss out. When you aren’t able to use your gifts to edify the body, we are the ones losing.
It was seeing this void that stirred my heart to see artists honored as members of this community. Honored as people who had a gifts that were meant to serve and build up the church. Art matters, which means even more so, artists matter. Creating space for everyone at the table means letting go of our boxes defining what it means to be a part of the church. Who says you have to work in Children’s Ministry to serve? Or write a blog to teach? Or preach a sermon to encourage or convict? We are all called to participate in the work of ministry in our own unique way. And so, the idea of starting Creative Commissions at VCC was born. And I’m so excited to share this with you.
The vision for these Creative Commissions is to intentionally create space for artists from VCC with a broad range of gifts to create works of art for the community. There will be several commissions throughout the year for artists to participate in. Each commission will have a different theme; whether that’s focusing on a verse or a story, a quote or a word, each artist will interact with and engage with the theme and create from their own reflections. From videos, to paintings, to sculptures, to poems, to sketches, to graphics, to photographs…these pieces will be collected and displayed for the whole community to partake of together. Because being transformed to be like Jesus doesn’t happen simply by hearing the Word, it happens when we taste, touch, interact, and experience the Word not just for ourselves but through the eyes of one another.
So, if you’re an artist – whatever medium you choose – we invite you to breathe life into this community through your work. If you’re interested in hearing about and contributing to the Creative Commissions at VCC, email Rachel Leona at firstname.lastname@example.org! Our first Creative Commission will launch this fall!
I couldn’t write a blog about art without including my favorite art quote from my favorite painter,
“Art is to console those who have been broken by life.” – Vincent van Gogh
Creating and observing art is healing. It gets out what is trapped inside and it reminds us that we’re not alone in the depths of our pain. No matter the season you’re in, we need you to create for this community. Use your voice to console your own heart and the hearts of this community. Your voice, your point of view, your unique gifts…they matter.