In my quest to understand art and find spaces for it to function within the church, I found an article about Ruth Oosterman. Ruth, an artist, collaborates with her two year old daughter Eve in the creation of her paintings. How so you may wonder? Ruth gives Eve the freedom to draw whatever she chooses, and then using the lines and colorings of Eve’s, Ruth adds color and additional lines to produce fascinating paintings. The results are nothing short of amazing.
As I think back on my experiences with the Academy of Preachers, I am prompted to believe that this is what we are all doing. When it comes to being a community, each community looks a certain way. We are the lines here and the lines there. Some lines are in color, some aren’t. Some experiences are bold, others function in pastels. Hopefully, we all develop as we grow. Left largely on our own, the sketch of our community doesn’t look like anything more than a scribble. While we can find our own meaning in that community, it is not until we come together through dialogue and fellowship that we begin to look like something more cohesive.
That is what AoP is – a gathering of artists. While I was nervous and somewhat skeptical going in, I walked away with new community. I was able to mix my colors with other who don’t have the same brand of paint as I do. That mixing didn’t change the outcome of the overall painting. I was welcomed into the new community and was free to be me. I was challenged in my theology and pushed to think and contemplate a little deeper.
Art is a tool that can help us move into connecting our ideas. Art is a tool that can help us connect to the church and in essence connect to community. Art is a tool that can help us connect to religion and/or spirituality. There is room for art in worship beyond songs and paintings. Art is people. The Academy of Preachers is an art studio that is being used to create magnificent pieces of work that speak life and help us to connect.
I am looking forward to continued connection with the Academy of Preachers and the legacy that it is building for all young preachers who are walking in and/or discerning their call. Kimberly White M.Div. Student Central Baptist Theological Seminary National Festival of Preachers, Indianapolis, 2014