Community art?

For all those who were wondering, yes I’m still alive and I have returned from Italy! I hope to blog some thoughts and reflections, maybe even some pictures, in the near future.

But for now, some thoughts on art… which I feel a bit strange writing about, because when it comes to visual arts, I have very little (if any) talent. I was reminded of that today as I attempted to finish a few pages in my son’s baby scrapbook. It’s a good thing I only committed to doing baby scrapbooks for my children, and not one for each year of their life.

Back to the topic at hand, though– the pastor who I work with at Highland Park Community Church has a vision for using art in worship, and I have been intrigued and inspired by the idea. Drawing, painting, dancing, photography, etc. all seem like wonderful ways to express love and connection to God. And it also seems like something that may draw people from the community into a building they would not normally enter… a church building.

These thoughts came back to me as I happened to be reading an old issue of Reader’s Digest (from August 2003). There is an article by Kathryn Renner on p. 211, having to do with a community art piece that had a powerful impact on one neighborhood:

Jan, a self-taught artist, decided to ask each person in her neighborhood to paint his or her face on one big canvas… first, she painted a grid on the canvas and propped it up on an easel in the garage, next to a table of paints. Then whenever Jan was home, the ‘art room’ door was up, with an open invitation for enighbors to paint on a square. the first to stop in were kids riding by on theri bikes… But the adults weren’t so eager. ‘Most said they hadn’t picked up a brush since kindergarten,’ Jan says. ‘They were afraid they’d mess it up.’ But as word slowly spread, they came, some using their driver’s license photos as models. Then something started to happen. They came back– to see who had painted, or if they could recognize who was who. While in Jan’s garage, they began to chat about re-modeling projects, schools, jobs, and families. Wendy, who lived across the street and was fighting breast cancer, came in her wheelchair to watch the fun every day. When the worst happened and Wendy died, they stood by her husband, Bill, and invited him over for meals… This summer has been different in Jan’s neighborhood. Famlies take turns hosting happy hours. They share birthdays and swim in each other’s pools. ‘We’re watching over each other now, just like in the painting,’ says Jan.

I’m wondering, could we do something like this for our communities, as congregations? …use art to build relationships and connection with one another, to break down barriers and welcome one another into our lives? What do you think?


3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Aunt Pam
    Jun 11, 2009 @ 21:32:35

    What a beautiful picture of the church should be. Watching over and carin for one another – not just within our walls but in the community where we live. I read an article once that asked the question “If your church closed its doors today, would it be missed (in the community)?”


  2. Woo Hoo
    Jun 12, 2009 @ 19:34:13

    I love this idea! After attending the penguin opening (60 +) artists all meeting and connecting. I can see how art connects people in fabulous new ways. Open a can a paint & PLAY Girly!


  3. Jennifer
    Jun 24, 2009 @ 22:31:17

    OOOOOOOOO!!! I LOVE this!!!! What a great idea!


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