Where Do Artists Work?

Illustrations by Michael Harrar copyright protected.

When I was teaching elementary art I had a poster that listed 100's of jobs where artists could work professionally. It included everything from book illustrators to muralists to cereal box designers. The variety of jobs that require an artist is astounding! The poster was meant to be encouraging to the impressionable minds that passed through my classroom.

This last week I've had two opportunities that have once again led me to think about how artists are used in a faith community. First, I had an opportunity to share an afternoon rendezvous over ice cream while my friend Michael and his wife who were traveling through the area. They have spent their professional years working for Wycliffe Bible Translators. Living all over the world Michael has, among other things, had the opportunity to use his artistic gifts illustrating Bibles, teaching natives to be artists, creating murals to spread the word of the need for Bible translation and even a chance to create a series of postage stamps. Secondly, I spent time with an artist who will display her fiber art in my home church gallery. She was asking about the history of the space and the type of art that had been displayed over the years. I don't know who had the wonderful idea of creating this space but it's been there for at least 17 years. It's brilliantly surrounding the area that our receptionist desk is placed, therefore the art is not to be missed by anyone who walks through this entrance. I've curated this space for the past two years and we've seen photographers, illustrators, oil painters, pastel artists and much more have a chance to exhibit. Some of the artists create liturgical work and others are Christians that recognize their gifts as from God. We celebrate all of these artists and try to use the space to educate our faith community. Additionally, when it is appropriate we make a connection to something that we are studying or celebrating in the church year calendar.

If I made a poster listing where artists of faith would work I don't think the list would be terribly different from the list I had in my classroom many years ago. The difference is how does the church respond to this, how do we encourage the artists, and how do we include them in our purpose. How are you doing in this area?