Wednesday, May 9, 2012

First Experiment in Art-Making, Story, and Ritual

It's a lot of fun to tell people about the idea of making and sharing art as worship.  Turns out if you tell enough people about an idea, some of them will actually want to know what it looks like.  So last Thursday a band of intrepid adventures ranging from seminarians to agnostic artists gathered in Williamsburg to experiment with what worshiping through making art together might look like.
In the center of the room was a large cross made out of watercolor paper.  Surrounding the cross, a variety of brushes and liquids that people might encounter in their daily lives were arranged in a color wheel.  At the base of the cross, a font was placed where participants might wash out whatever pigment stained their brushes in order to paint anew.
(liquids from bottom to top:  saline solution, ash, grape jelly)

(spinach juice and blue snow cone syrup)

The evening began with simple movement games to gather us together as a creative community.  Then, using Luke 24: 36-43 as our starting point, we began a series of exercises designed to help us ponder how we relate to the text, listen to how others in the room relate to it, and reflect on how it relates to the larger world.  With each exercise we expressed ourselves through adding another layer of pigment (and at one point newspaper articles) to the cross.  By the end of the evening we had covered the cross with the marks of our lives.
(I love that the font was turned pitch black -- a sign it was well used) 

We finished the evening with a sticky-note based brainstorming session for ways in which we could take the themes we had explored together and make opportunities for others to express, create, and connected to one another around those themes.  
I'll let you know when they happen and when we have further experiments in art-making as spiritual practice!


Mark said...

I'm curious to know how 'hide' came out of a discussion of that passage.

Ben McKelahan said...

Well, the sticky notes at the end are designed to generate creative ideas for bringing joy and beauty into the world through activities that the community could facilitate. The way the brain storm worked is that people wrote on sticky notes several themes that came up during the evening. They also wrote childhood activities, special skills, games, and places that mattered to them. Then people combined the sticky notes in various ways to come up with ideas. I'm guessing "hide" is either a skill or childhood activity.