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Artists

2021 European Artists Network

G.K. Chesterton wrote, “The function of imagination is not to make strange things settled, so much as to make settled things strange; not so much to make wonders facts as to make facts wonders.”

Artists of all types are tasked with inviting their viewers and hearers to see and listen. To make facts into wonders. Art is uniquely suited to enrich our prayer lives, catalyze renewed engagement with the Bible, foster empathy, enhance our spiritual perception, challenge our beliefs in healthy ways, and bring us into more intimate contact both with our Lord and the world. It invites us to slow down and gaze deeply. Art communicates, questions, and holds accountable. It stirs and reveals.

The arts in all their forms are good gifts from God, intended to be cultivated and employed, communicating God’s message for humanity. As artists, we need to mindfully consider how to practice the habit of seeing and listening on our own in order to create. At the 2021 gathering of the Artists Network, we will approach this way of contemplative seeing through the lenses of music, painting and visual arts, film, literature, and more.

 

NETWORK LEADER

Charles David Kelley is Latvian-American, a citizen of both countries. Born in Los Angeles, he has lived in Oregon since 1980. His professional training is in Bible, theology, and missiology. Before founding Bridge Builders International, an Oregon based mission that focuses on Latvia, in 1994, Charles served in pastoral ministry in California, Texas, and Oregon for 21 years. He is chairman of BBI’s Latvian affiliate, “Partners.” Charles is founder of the Imago Dei Artists Network which ministers to artists and musicians in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. He is a member of the Arts Centre Group in London and serves as the LausanneARTS Coo..rdinator for Europe. Charles is an author, pianist, and painter. He lives in Latvia 4-5 months per year. He has been married to Nancy for 42 years and has four grown children and nine grandchildren. 

 

Natalie Meeks, co-leader of the ELF Artists Network, is the Director of Art Ministries and Communication for Bridge Builders International, which ministers to artists in multiple countries. As a free-lance writer, she has penned articles about ministries all over the world. She is a lover of the classics (secular and spiritual) and enjoys reading and writing poetry. Her Christian faith and confidence in the Scriptures inform her understanding of, communication with, and ministry to artists of all kinds. She and her husband of 18 years reside in Greenville, South Carolina. They have six children, including an adopted son from Latvia. Natalie’s hobbies include reading, reading, and reading.

 

NETWORK SPEAKERS

Tim Basselin is Assistant Professor of Media Arts and Worship at one of the largest seminaries in the world: Dallas Theological Seminary. He teaches classes on the intersection of theology and culture, including classes on film, art, literature, and disability. He is also the director of the Media Arts apprenticeship program at DTS and enjoys collaborating with his students. He serves on the editorial board for Christian Scholar’s Review. He and his wife, Robin, have four children and enjoy travelling and camping.

 

Crystal Downing is Co-Director of the Marion E. WadeCenter (Wheaton, IL), the foremost archive in the world for published and unpublished materials by and about C. S. Lewis and six of his most creative influencers, including Sayers. Crystal’s first book, Writing Performances: The Stages of Dorothy L. Sayers, received an international award from the Dorothy L. Sayers Society, and her recently released Subversive: Christ, Culture, and the Shocking Dorothy L. Sayers was honored with a starred review from Publishers Weekly. Committed to exploring the relationship between Christianity and culture, Crystal has also authored three books that appear on university and seminary syllabuses around the world: How Postmodernism Serves (my) Faith; Changing Signs of Truth; and Salvation from Cinema: The Medium is the Message.

 

William Edgar is currently Professor of Apologetics at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, USA. He was previously Professor of Apologetics at the Reformed Seminary in Aix-en-Provence. Before that he taught high school in Greenwich, CT, USA. He holds the Bachelor of Arts with Honors in Music, from Harvard College, and the Docteur en Théologie from the University of Geneva, Switzerland. His principal research interests are in cultural apologetics, African-American history and music, the music of Brahms, the French Huguenots, 19th century French church history, and the art of Paul Cézanne. His is widely published in those areas. Edgar is a jazz pianist and runs a Gospel-Jazz band. His chief avocations are running, reading novels and history, listening to modern French organ music, and watching Brazilian soccer-football. His wife Barbara and he have two children and three grandchildren.

 

Delta David Gier has been called a dynamic voice on the music scene, recognized widely for his penetrating interpretations of the standard symphonic repertoire, passionate commitment to new music, and significant community engagement. Orchestras Mr. Gier has conducted include the New York Philharmonic, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Chicago Symphony, the St. Louis Symphony, and the Minnesota Orchestra. In Europe, his engagements include the Bergen Philharmonic, the Polish National Radio Symphony, and the Bucharest Philharmonic, along with many other orchestras in Italy, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Turkey. He studied at the University of Michigan under the renowned conducting teacher Gustav Meier, along with studies at the Tanglewood Music Center and Aspen Music Festival. He was a Fulbright scholar in eastern Europe from 1988-90. He has chaired the music jury of the Pulitzer Prize and is a frequent panelist for the League of American orchestras. The Lakota Music Project was developed under Gier’s direction to address racial tensions between Native Americans and whites in the region the South Dakota Symphony Orchestra serves. Other engagement projects with the SDSO have included Arab, Chinese and Sudanese/Somali refugees.

 

Heather Holdsworth is a lecturer, Bible teacher, and artist. Her focus is in the subject of Spiritual Formation and Discipleship for all ages. She lectures in the innovative Chalmers Institute, St Andrews where ‘the academy’ and ‘the church’ are brought together in helpful dialogue, in Edinburgh Bible College, and more recently for pastors and leaders in rural Kenya.  Much of her recent art is a unique meditation on lament through visual representations of the ancient words of the Psalms. Heather lives in Edinburgh, Scotland with her husband, Adrian.

 

Steve Thrall is a missionary pastor who has been involved in ministry in France for 33 years. During these years Steve’s urban ministry experience and pastoral responsibilities for three different Parisian churches  led to a focus on the arts and care for artists. Steve helped to  launch a Christian theater company in 1997 and has worked closely with a Christian artist association in Paris since its inception in 2001.  For eleven years Steve served as the president and director of a multi-purpose arts space in the heart of Paris called Le Pavé d’Orsay. In September 2018 Steve and his wife moved to Normandy in order to create an artists residence called La Pommeraie. Steve works with A.C.T. International.

 

NETWORK PROGRAMME

Day 1

What Artists See

Charles D. Kelley

Colin Harbinson wrote: “Art at its best always invites us to see things in fresh ways and is able to move us to the truth about things.” Have you heard the expression “looking but not seeing?” We all do this every day… during meals, watching TV, working, shopping or driving. Our brains take in enormous amounts of visual information but don’t necessarily do anything with that information. The artist must not simply look but see ­– objects, shapes, colors, as well as connections.

We artists who follow the Lord Jesus require more than artists’ eyes. We require our sight to be clothed with insight. Do you agree with the 17th century English clergyman, Thomas Fuller, who wrote, “seeing is believing, but feeling is the truth”? Jesus had quite a lot to say about the relationship between looking and seeing... feeling and believing. His stories on this are rooted in the Great Commandment, “You shall love the Lord your God will all of you heart, soul, mind and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself.” If we see what Jesus sees, how will our art be transformed?

 

Faith and Identity in our Creative Commission

Heather Holdsworth

Called to live life on the edge of what’s known, as creatives, we push into spaces that are often unwritten. Facing blank scores, studios, and canvases we, ‘dip our brush into our own soul’ (Beecher) and our faith and identity tremble. Join us as we celebrate and consider the tensions of our commission.


Day 2

Art as an Act of Hospitality

Natalie Meeks

1 Peter 4:9-10 tells us that hospitality is a spiritual gift to be shared with loved ones and strangers alike. In fact, the Greek word translated as “hospitality” is actually a combination of two words—philos, meaning "affection" and zenos, meaning "stranger." Philoxenia – hospitality – is a sacred duty, signifying affection toward strangers. How then can the artist practice this hospitality through their art?

Whether through story, painting, song, film, poetry, sculpture, or other creative expressions of the heart of God, the Christian artist’s task is to communicate Truth and the Goodness of God in such a way that it translates to the hearts and souls of the hungry. In this session, we will consider what it means to approach art as an act of hospitality – to touch lives in an intimate, personal way and to create art that becomes a sanctuary for those whom God sends your way.

 

Artists in Community

Steve Thrall

Western culture leads us to believe that artists work best as isolated, creative individuals.  Scripture tells us, however, that God made all humans to fit naturally into a community.  Creative people have unique skills and abilities which the whole community can benefit from. A healthy community is also a safe place to learn and grow in our areas of weakness. For artists to work collaboratively in community requires love, humility and a willingness to remain a learner.  The combined creative assets of an artistic community can open many new doors and provides opportunities of societal engagement on a much greater scale than would be possible for individuals. 


Day 3

Theology and Film: A Practice in Listening

Tim Basselin

C.S. Lewis wrote, “The first demand any work of art makes upon us is surrender. Look. Listen. Receive. Get yourself out of the way. (There is no good asking first whether the work before you deserves such a surrender, for until you have surrendered you cannot possibly find out.)” In this session we will consider a few ways film helps us practice this listening well, this surrender. We will watch a couple of short films together and discuss how to approach film, and art and one another, with a posture of receptivity.

 

Artists in the Trenches

Delta David Gier

Professional artists often find themselves at odds with both their workplace and their church. For musicians, whether on the concert stage or in the opera house, the prevailing assumption is that Christian faith is either naïve or intellectually dishonest. How does one faithfully live out one's calling in this atmosphere? And how does one contribute meaningfully to a church which either distrusts one's profession or finds it irrelevant to its mission? Join conductor Delta David Gier, along with a panel of professional musicians (soloists, opera singers, orchestral musicians), for a robust and honest discussion about life and faith in the midst of adversity.


Day 4

The Seeing of Sayers: A Christian Aesthetic

Crystal Downing

In The Mind of the Maker (1941), Dorothy L. Sayers argues that artists understand the Trinity better than many theologians do. This presentation explains how and why, outlining the origins of what Sayers called a “Christian Aesthetic.” From participating in photography contests and musical performances during her youth, through her success as a bestselling detective fiction novelist who vacationed with painters, and into her groundbreaking theatrical works (one of which caused the biggest religious scandal in 20th century Britain), we shall explore how Sayers celebrated the cliché-shattering truth of both Christ and creativity.

 

Paul Cézanne: Encounters with God

William Edgar

“Will I ever arrive at the goal so sought after?” Cézanne saw himself as the Moses of modern art. Where was his promised land? Though Cézanne, the extraordinary “post-impressionist”, painted only a few religious subjects and attended mass inconsistently, his oeuvre makes little sense without recognizing the presence of God. We can see this in at least three ways: (1) his critique of idolatry [l’Éternel Féminin]; (2) reconciliations of mankind with the creation and the individual with the self [Les Baigneuses]; and (3) leading us to the invisible, from love to victory [La Montagne Sainte Victoire].

 

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