Presenting artist talks
To help audiences and artists to connect, we have tried several different ways of hosting conversations. One is the “artist talk.” For the biennial HopeArts Festival exhibit we invite two guest artists, professionals whose work anchors the exhibit. Part of what we ask of them is to speak at the opening reception for about a half hour each. They often show slides along with their talk, and we encourage them to speak about how their faith and art intersect.
These talks have two effects. First, they really help us understand the art better. The languages of art are more or less a mystery to most of us, so the talks educate. Second, they open our eyes to some of the ways art and faith interact for different artists. I have learned that some artists are working out personal faith struggles through their art and others see themselves as prophets. Some find their main delight in the sensual, in the wet colors or the resilient clay. Some pray while they work; some worship; all think deeply about God and draw closer to Him through their vocation as artists. The talks inspire.
Another time for connecting is at Sunday morning services. During the Festival, the arts pastor conducts an interview with the guest artists in place of the sermon and we all get to pray for them afterward. Although some of our non-artist brethren find such interviews challenging in a church service, they have been gracious. Over the years, more and more non-artists have become involved with the arts ministry by participating in collaborative exhibits, praying for the artists and the ministry, and developing friendships with artists. The Hope Chapel community has grown stronger, as has the HopeArts community.
The guest artists have told us over and over that they receive as much as they give. One early guest, Tim High, told us how his own church had never displayed any of his art, even though he is a respected university art professor and an active member of the church. A powerful artwork we got to display had sat in his attic for years unseen because it was overtly Christian in subject and had no place in his secular art world. Our invitation encouraged him and led him to start an arts ministry at his church, First Evangelical Free Church. Tim and the church set up a gallery space and have hosted several seminars, including the Transforming Culture symposium in 2008, a watershed event for many hungry artists and pastors.
The relationships among the HopeArts folks and the guest artists formed a community that has outlived relocations and life changes for over a decade.
Another type of artist talk we have hosted is something we call 5 Minutes Max. The Festival exhibits include 25 to 35 artists, and we wanted a way for them to have mini-talks. So one afternoon we invite them to speak for up to five minutes about their art to anyone who wants to come. The five minutes includes a question and answer time. We all move around the gallery and get to really focus on a piece or two at a time.
Hope and the Visual Arts by Kate Van Dyke is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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