"Advent" & Other Poems by Scott Cairns

As Advent comes to a close, I still need reminders to be watchful, to repent and guard the mystery of Christ’s birth in my heart. If I don’t, I know what the outcome will be. The holy feast of the Lord’s nativity will be swallowed up by the traveling-eating-partying-shopping mania around me. It’s happened before. I found one such reminder this morning in a podcast by poet and professor Scott Cairns—“Flesh Becomes Word: The Incarnational Poetry of Scott Cairns.” A fitting title for the season, no?

Scott begins with his poem “Advent,” which is typed below. He continues with several others that are well worth hearing (even if not strictly Advent-themed selections), so I hope you'll stick around for the full episode.

Listen here.


Well, it was beginning to look a lot like Christmas—everywhere, children eyeing the bright lights and colorful goods, traffic a good deal worse than usual and most adults in view looking a little puzzled, blinking their eyes against the assault of stammering bulbs and public displays of goodwill. We were all embarrassed, frankly, the haves and the have-nots—all of us aware something had gone far wrong with an entire season, something had eluded us. And, well, it was strenuous, trying to recall what it was that had charmed us so, back when we were much smaller and more oblivious than not concerning the weather, mass marketing, the insufficiently hidden faces behind those white beards and other jolly gear. And there was something else: a general diminishment whose symptoms included the Xs in Xmas, shortened tempers, and the aggressive abandon with which most celebrants seemed to push their shiny cars about. All of this seemed to accumulate like wet snow, or like the fog with which our habitual inversion tried to choke us, or to blank us out altogether, so that, of a given night, all that appeared over the mess we had made of the season was what might be described as a nearly obscured radiance, just visible through the gauze, either the moon disguised by a winter veil, or some lost star—isolated, distant, sadly dismissing of us, and of all our expertly managed scene.

-from the Compass of Affection: Poems New and Selected


Upcoming Events in our Community

I want to take some time to let you know about what is coming up this month in our community.

Tomorrow, Tuesday December 1st, we will be having our monthly Artist Community Night at Tilt Coffee. We will meet at 8pm. These evenings are a great way to give and receive encouragement as artists and as fellow believers, to connect with others in our community, and to hear about what others in our community are currently working on. If you haven't been able to make it to one of these evenings yet, I encourage you to make it out to Tilt tomorrow evening! If you have any questions feel free to email myself or Jeff Guy.

Also Monday 7th we will be having our second 5x15 night at Trinity Vineyard. 15 artists of varying disciplines each with 5 minutes to share and present. Whether you are an Artist or Art Patron, you won't want to miss this evening!


Trinity Artists 5x15 06-08-09: Thomas Hardy

Architect, Thomas Hardy shares a great project with us.
(my apologies for the lack of video posts as of recent)


on spiritual practices and art-making

Walking Home From Work
Acrylic and Thread on Canvas, 38" x 56"

It's striking how parallel the spiritual practices are to the disciplines required of an artist. Meditation, prayer, simplicity...

Annie Dillard, in her book Pilgrim at Tinker Creek* says:
"The world is fairly studded and strewn with pennies cast broadside from a generous hand. But - and this is the point - who gets excited by a mere penny? It is dire poverty indeed when a man is so malnourished and fatigued that he won’t stoop to pick up a penny. But if you cultivate a healthy poverty and simplicity, so that finding a penny will literally make your day, then, since the world is in fact planted in pennies, you have with your poverty, bought a lifetime of days" (pg 8)

God, with his "generous hand" has given us the gift of creation. One of our roles as both artists and believers is to delight and wonder in this creation. It's an exercise in slowing down, stopping to smell the dogwoods, and finding the pennies. It's an exercise in both contemplation and meditation. And it's a necessary part of our growth as artists and Christians.

It requires patience - there is a discipline to slowing down and taking notice of the small stuff of life. As adults we have largely lost this practice, but spend any time with the Trinity Kids and you'll surely want to recover the fascination (and accompanied delight) in carpet patterns, tiny bugs and cloud formations. Finding pennies will once again make your day, and you'll be brimming over with delight and wonder.

Certainly it requires humility - as an artist, recognizing you are not the source of the inspiration, the good idea, or even the materials themselves. In other words, swallowing your pride and realizing the gifts (these little pennies) were placed in the world by someone bigger than ourselves. We can't take credit for that, no matter how cool we think our art is. It requires, as Dillard puts it, a "healthy poverty" and that requires the discipline of simplicity.

As you walk, or drive through the streets of Atlanta, may your eyes be opened to find pennies everywhere. And may Trinity's arts community in turn, become a community that has cultivated "a healthy poverty and simplicity."

* This book is available through the Trinity arts library. See Jeff Guy to borrow a copy (or choose from many other titles).


Symposium on Faith + Art: Community: Tonight!

Tonight at 7:30 at Trinity Vineyard, we will be having our third Symposium on Faith & Art. The topic this evening will be Community. We will be viewing artwork from a number of different photographers among our community, hearing a short keynote from Jeff Guy, and connecting with other artists in our individual disciplines, or with other Art Lovers.

Hope to see you tonight at 7:30!


On Friendships & Community

Photograph by Cat Norman. She & others will share portraits at the next Symposium on Faith & Art at Trinity.

There's an old proverb of King Solomon that goes something like this...As iron sharpens iron, so one friend sharpens another. Proverbs something something. (translation, mine)

Sounds hard, right? Kind of painful, perhaps. And definitely would produce an awful sound. So what's the point? A real friend is one who puts it to you straight and has the courage to hear it from you straight. Or to continue with the analogy, a true friend speaks hard, painful, awful sounding truth. What good comes from this? Well in blacksmithing, a refining happens. This is the outcome in friendships as well.

Are we friends really? Have we given our friends permission to refine us? Do we submit ourselves to their refining?

As an artist, I have a few close friends that I have given permission to refine me and my creative efforts. These friends know they can tell me that my work is crap, I spent too little time on it, haven't thought through the ideas thoroughly, or simply- they don't enjoy it.

As a friend who has submitted myself to their discretion I know that; (1.) My identity is in my creator God, therefor this is not a critique on my personhood. And (2.), this is a critique of my artwork and these words will refine my creative efforts. Because of this, I do not stay angry or hurt. I receive their input respectfully and I ask the questions; How will this refine my work? What can be done to make this work excellent? Do I erase it, do I cover it, do I transform it, do I scrap it, or do I set it aside? I thank my friends for their honesty, knowing their courage in speaking the truth. Then, I think about tomorrow and what I'll do to better the work.

This is not the responsibility of every friend you have, every acquaintance, everybody you meet. This is deserving of your closest companions. In this context, it will be most effective.

Coming soon, we will have the opportunity to engage one another at Trinity's Symposium on Faith & Art. This Symposium will focus on friendships and community. We will gather and eat simple foods while listening to some local music. The Photography community is submitting portraits for the occasion and these may be purchased if you are a patron. After viewing these works, we will hear a short keynote talk on healthy community. Then, we will be given time to break out into groups based on our various disciplines. We will get to meet like-minded artists and patrons. The hope is that friendships like the ones mentioned above will form. If you are seeking to be a friend and be part of a vibrant community of believing artists then I would encourage you to come. It's going to be on Monday, September 28th beginning at 7:30pm here at Trinity.

I hope to see you there. Christ be with you as you create.


5x15 episode 4 (June 8th, 09): Kit Hughes

Kit works for Phillips as a designer. Here is a project of his that is extraordinary.


a poem and some lights

Photograph by Rune Guneriussen

For the Artist at the Start of the Day
A poem by John O'Donohue

May morning be astir with the harvest of night;

Your mind quickening to the eros of a new question.

Your eyes seduced by some unintended glimpse

that cut right through the surface to a source.

May this be a morning of innocent beginning,

When the gift within you slips clear

Of the sticky web of the personal

With its hurt and its hauntings,

And fixed fortress corners,

A morning when you become a pure vessel

For what wants to ascend from silence.

May your imagination know

The grace of perfect danger,

To reach beyond imitation,

And the wheel of repetition,

Deep into the call of all

The unfinished and unsolved

Until the veil of the unknown yields

And something original begins

To stir toward your senses

And grow stronger in your heart

In order to come to birth

In a clear line of form

That claims from time

A rhythm not yet heard,

That calls space to

A different shape.

May it be its own force field

And dwell uniquely

Between the heart and the light

To surprise the hungry eye

By how deftly it fits

About its secret loss.

As you enter into the rhythms of Fall (and for many - a season of work, study or busyness), may you become "a pure vessel for what wants to ascend from silence." And may your senses be stirred and your light shine brighter as you partake in our church community.


Making art and Eucharist

"Fly" by Judith Kindler *
Mixed Media including encaustics / oil on panel
80" x 36"

Defining Truth can seem near impossible in a culture saturated with confusing language, advertising schemes and the search for the politically correct. And yet, the process of art-making can be likened to this yearning for Truth (capital T).

Daniel Siedell in his book God in the Gallery* asks the question "Can one experience Truth aesthetically without knowing Truth cognitively?" In other words, in viewing and responding to art, are we viewing and responding to Truth and meaning, whether we are from a Christian context or not?

Moreover, I would ask, can we dialogue with and immerse ourselves in Truth in our process of making art? "The power of art relies on the belief that smelly oils, rough canvas, graphite, and other banal materials can provide a profoundly aesthetic experience. [These materials] are material means by which a window of the world as it truly is, as a spiritual and divinely charged reality, is thrown open." In other words, there is a common "belief required of all artists, the risk and wager that out of banal materials, something of meaning and significance will emerge"(66-67).

I'll admit, a part of me enjoys a glamorous conclusion about the hours and hours spent in my studio; that the wrestling with raw materials for days on end will produce meaningful and significant works of art that will both engage and challenge viewers to dialogue with Truth. Sounds ideal. Sounds refreshing. Sounds a bit utopian, in my opinion.

And while I agree significance and meaning can and often do come about through the process of making art (and in the end result of responding to the art created), many days we artists are doused with a mixture of self-doubt, worry, and a whole host of fears. We can sometimes feel like we're drowning in ordinary, earthy, raw materials and feel frustrated at the end of the day because we (as well as our art) might be "misunderstood." Or perhaps, we feel the pangs of disillusionment when our work doesn't match what we had imagined in our heads. And sometimes (maybe more often than we'd like), our art-making doesn't feel so holy, so meaningful, so significant and we wonder "what in the world am I doing?"

It's in moments like those just described, I remember the Eucharist. The banal elements of bread and wine invite participants to think upon and show communion with eternally significant things, namely the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for our sins. So in some ways, the process of art-making may be likened to the Eucharist. To reword the above quote from Siedell: "The power of [the Eucharist] relies on the belief that [stale bread, and luke-warm grape juice] can provide a profoundly [spiritual] experience. [These materials] are material means by which a window of the world as it truly is, as a spiritual and divinely charged reality, is thrown open." In other words, there is a common "belief required of all [Christians], the risk and wager that out of banal materials, something of meaning and significance will emerge" (66-67).

Let us press on, then, in our reconciling of common, earthy materials for the making of meaningful, significant pieces of art, music, literature, etc. And may God guide our hands and thoughts, and grant us glimpses of His Truth both in the making and the viewing of art.

* From Judith Kindler's body of work "Defining Truth." "The idea of defining truth is one that is filled with conflict for Kindler, as looking for truth in life has always been an elusive obsession. This body of work deals with the artist's struggle to find a common truth. Inspired by the writings of Ludwig Wittgenstein who parallels the idea of defined truths with games that bear explicit rules common to all the players, she has sought to understand contemporary life's justification of war, neglected nurturing of the infividual and rampant exploitation in our society. Through working on this series of mixed media paintings Kindler concludes that it is not the rules of the game that is the common truth. It is the game." See Kindler's website for more.

* Siedell, Daniel. 2008 God in the Gallery: A Christian Embrace of Modern Art. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic, 2008.
[This book is available for loan through Trinity's library.]


5x15 episode 2 (June 8th, 09): Valerie Williams

Valerie Williams shared some of her wonderful photography.

Make sure you also check out her flickr page at ihavenoidea


5x15 episode 1 (June 8th, 09): Cameron Lawrence

Our 5x15 video series will begin with Cameron Lawrence, one of Trinity's poets.

5x15 video series

We are excited to announce that this week begins our 5x15 video series launch!
Our recent 5x15 evening was such an encouraging time for many of us. We had quite an assortment of disciplines represented. And for that reason, we decided it would be a great idea to capture the evening on film and begin archiving Trinity's creative community. Keep stopping by regularly as we will be releasing one of the fifteen artists every week (or at least every other week).

Peace be with you.


Alanis Morissette and Trinity Kids

There's something about being around little kids that makes joy contagious. A few weeks ago, Trinity Kids participated in VBS.  Each day, the children were challenged to think about God's creativity as shown through nature.  We oohed and ahhhed as we looked at the world with magnifying glasses.  We marveled at bugs and animals of all sizes and we giggled at clouds shaped like rhinos.  

As we demonstrated God's imagination by holding up fruits and vegetables (and showing their corresponding innards), the children began chanting for their favorite fruits or vegetables to be shown.  In that moment, they understood something profound: even though God is big, He has taken delight in designing even the smallest of things.  And that is certainly something to chant about!

As a friend recently pointed out, "God does not provide us with minimalist food. He creates a world with a capacity to produce over 7,500 varieties of apple. 7,500! From this myriad variety we can make apple juice and apple wine. We can make apple pie, apple crumble, apple cake, apple crisp. We can bake them or stew them. We can dry or puree them. The Brits make a toffee apple. Isaac Newton gets hit on the head by a falling apple and discovers a theory of universal gravitation."   

I love the line from Alanis Morissette's song Wunderkind:  
"I am a magnet for all kinds of deeper wonderment."

Or the Psalmist: 
"The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.'" (Psalm 126:3)

Perhaps during Common Time, we should seek to be wonder-magnets.  May we let this season be one of deep reflection, fruitful creativity, and sheer astonishment over even the littlest things that God has done. 


Not so Common Time

Just Checking by Daniella Woolf

We are in the season called Common Time (or Ordinary Time). As Dale Brown points out in his article, the assumption might be that "common" or "ordinary" are a reference to reverting back to our normal day-to-day lives. But this notion encourages emotional and spiritual highs and lows to be reserved for the other seasons of the liturgical calendar. It assumes a hierarchy of not only the way we approach worship, but also in our own lives.

In other words, the assumption can creep in:
Well, since it's Common Time - I'll just sit back and relax. I'm good to go - at least until Advent.

That idea hardly sounds like the Jesus we encounter in the New Testament: the Jesus who redeems the everyday, raw and "ordinary" into something of meaning, something extra-ordinary.

This redemptive idea - of taking what may be considered commonplace, and re-purposing it - is one we can (and should!) mimic in our own art-making. It is a way that we can show solidarity with Christ's ministry, while setting the stage for the Holy Spirit to move through our art.

Take for example the textile artist Daniella Woolf. Her large installation (pictured above) is comprised of her mother's old checks. With her mother's death still fresh in her mind, she took her mom's old checks (and some of her own) and re-purposed them for art. When she speaks of her inspiration for this particular piece, she talks about themes of identity (life, death, financial roles, theft, etc), and references her love of fabrics and quilts. She has taken the ordinary and done something extra-ordinary, and in doing so paid homage to her mother.

I wonder during this season, what things we can see in a new light; what things we can re-purpose and redeem in our art-making? And in so doing, allow the Spirit to transform our ordinary lives into purposeful, out-of-the-ordinary ones.


Reflections on the 5X15 Night

I would like to take this moment to thank all of those who made it out to the 5X15 night this past Monday.  We had a pretty good turn out of both artists and art adorers alike.  It is really cool to see so many of you taking an interest not only into this new community of ours, but also in some of the art that exists within our church.  So on behalf of Jeff, the artists who participated, and myself, thank you for your patronage.

Monday night Jeff mentioned that all of us in attendance were patrons of the arts for that evening, though we may not contribute financially like some art patrons, we were patrons by showing our encouragement and support to the artists who presented that evening.  This is such a valuable concept for us to consider, and one that I would like to urge all of you to continue in.  

One way we can encourage and support our fellow believing artists is at our community nights that happen the first Tuesday of every month at Octane and Carroll Street Cafe.  These groups meet at 8 on these nights and simply discuss what we have been working on recently and just to support one another in our creative efforts.  There is no judging or criticism, just a chance to get to know fellow artists a little better, talk about what inspires us in our particular crafts, and support one another.   The next community night is going to be July 7th, make plans to be there if you can.

As far as the next 5X15 goes, start looking for more information coming in the early fall.   


5x15 Night!

I want to remind all of you that the 5X15 night is happening tomorrow night at Trinity Vineyard at 7:30.  This is going to be a very special evening, one that you will want to make sure that you check out.  15 artists of various crafts and disciplines will be sharing with us some of their work, all with only 5 minutes each.  This will be a great opportunity to see what some of our fellow artists from Trinity have been creating and/or to see what inspires them as artists, and to meet new people.  

This is sure to be a fun and exciting evening, so make plans to come if you are able, bring friends, family, loved ones, neighbors, co-workers, etc.

Hope to see you there!


Community Group Nights!

Ladies and Gentlemen,

This upcoming Tuesday, June 2nd, we will be having our monthly Artist Community Group Night.  For those of you who haven't had a chance to make it out to one of these nights yet, I would highly recommend it.  This is a time where we get to build deeper relationships with other artists from our community at Trinity, encourage one another, and talk about what we have been working on lately.  

This evening will begin at around 8:00PM at either Carroll Street Cafe or Octane.  If you can find room in your schedule we would love to see you there!  

Also allow me to take this opportunity to make a quick commercial for our 5X15 night that shall be taking place up at the Trinity Monday June 8th.  15 artists from our church have signed up to share with you some of their art or things that have inspired them in their art, each having only 5 minutes to share. There will be musicians sharing some of their music, photographers presenting a few photographs, poetry reading, a viewing of a short film, and so much more.  You will not want to miss this evening.  Again this goes down June 8th at 7:30PM at Trinity Vineyard.

Come to the Artist Community Night June 2nd 8PM at Octane or Carroll Street Cafe
Come to the 5X15 Night June 8th 7:30PM at Trinity Vineyard

God Bless


Beauty, Uglyness and Splendor

Rembrandt van Rijn, Lighting Study of an Elderly Woman in a White Cap  c. 1640

One of the hot topics at the last symposium was the need to understand the "ugly" parts of life in order to fully appreciate the beautiful.  In other words, there is a time and a place to dwell on the dark, difficult and unattractive.  In our journey as Christians, this is certainly important as well.  We cannot fully appreciate the resurrection and hope of Easter season until we have understood the dark humanity of the Lenten season.  We can relish in the light and beauty of Christ because we, ourselves, are far from that.  

As Kris often says, if he didn't preach from the Lectionary, he would probably stick to the easier (more "attractive" parts of Scripture).  I think this applies to my art-making.  I find that it's easier to showcase the beautiful and maybe even "safe" things in my paintings.  But my goal as an artist shouldn't be to stay "safe" in my work.  There may be times in your art-making where showing the ugly, the wounded, the scarred, the imperfections, the seams, the unattractive... is exactly what you and the world around you needs to see, in order to highlight pure and untainted beauty.

Can anyone think of examples of artwork that is meant to show off the 'ugly'?  Anyone exploring these themes in their own work?   

Two artists come to mind immediately for me: Rembrandt van Rijn and Laura Moriarity. 
Rembrandt's paintings, drawings and etchings are often attributed to being "timeless."  Most critics would agree it's largely due to his attention to capturing raw humanity in each piece.  His portraits often show off saggy skin, and in some cases - very unattractive double chins!  His color palette consists of deep shades of reds, browns and blacks.  Rembrandt was interested in capturing the deep emotions that give way to the ups and downs of life.  And that often meant trying to capture all the flaws.   

Another artist comes to mind: Laura Moriarity.  Laura builds up layers and layers of wax (which gets to be pretty expensive).  She covers up all of her colors and patterns and eventually scrapes it all off to make very 'ugly' installations.  Then, she'll shave off parts of the works to showcase the rings of colored wax beneath.  It's fascinating.  And I think it's a great example of purposefully making ugly art that makes you squeal with delight at the little spots of beauty.  It's magical.  And it's lavish.  Here's a video of her at work:

As we create in the last few days of the Easter season, let us be challenged to think about the beauty and splendor of God, without avoiding or forgetting the contrast of our own uglyness.  And as Jeff put it so well: "We get to marvel at the Good Creation through the effort of ordinary artists who are here among our community.  God is good.  He delights when we share with one another."  The good, the bad, the beautiful and the ugly.  


The Artists Library

The Book of Kells is an illuminated manuscript that dates to somewhere around 800A.D. by Irish monks in tough times. We're kinda doing what they are doing. Ok. Not really. 

Yep.  We have established a resource library out of my office in trinity for our little community.  You can access books, film, cd's, novels, etc. by dropping in during my office hours.
 Inspiration takes cues and triggers.  We know that by seeing other people's artistic efforts we can draw on their expressions and sometimes be so moved to act in response.  

It's also important for us, as a friend of mine recently pointed out, to know the "classics" peripheral to our discipline.  A library is a great place to begin familiarizing yourself with these "classics".  

If you are a painter, consider the efforts of the writer.  If you are a writer consider the efforts of the musician.  If you are an architect, consider the work of a dancer and so forth.  There is something about witnessing someone's process outside your own that allows you to be inspired without the natural temptation of competition entering into the experience.  Sometimes I look at paintings in a museum and I honestly get irritated by a feeling of competition.  Where does that spirit come from?  I tell you it hinders my ability to accept their gift of expression that rests before my eyes.  I know when I sit in a Symphony performance however, I rest in knowing this is not in my realm of expertise.  That my only concern is to explore;  to be silent, listen attentively and wonder.  This is the power of being inspired by the expressions peripheral to our own. 

We will get the great opportunity of this at 5X15 Night.  We get to marvel at the Good Creation through the efforts of ordinary artists who are here among our community.  God is good.  He delights in us when we share with one another. 


Continuing Community

Thanks to all of those that made it out to the Symposium on Faith & Art last Monday, it truly was a very special evening.  It is exciting to see so many of you seeking to grow as artists and joining in this wonderful community within our church.  I hope you took the time to meet someone you perhaps had not yet met and also that this evening was as inspiring and encouraging to you as it was for me.  To all those who were unable to attend, you were greatly missed, and we hope you can make it to the next Symposium coming up sometime in August.  

The topic of this last Symposium, for those unable to attend, was Beauty and Splendor.  I think this is such an important topic for us to consider as believing artists.  Jeffery Guy gave us some insight into this topic by reminding us about our nature and purpose as believing artists.  

I would really encourage everyone within our community to use this blog as a forum to continue our discussions from that evening, and even let this be a venue to share what you have been working on. 
So with that being said I would like to submit a question for discussion:

As Believing Artists, how does beauty shape your creative processes?

Also I would like to remind everyone of the 5X15 night coming up on Monday June 8th at 7:30.  This evening will be an opportunity for you, the community, to share and hear what others do.  You can read something, act, dance, give a presentation of your artwork, sing a song, but you only get 5 minutes and there are only 15 slots available, so be sure to email Jeffery Guy or myself if you would be interested, and let us know what you would be planning to share.  Remember space is limited so email one of us ASAP!

Trinity Artist Community groups meet the first Tuesday of every month at either Octane or Carroll Street Cafe.  This gives us a chance to further build relationships with our fellow artists up at the church, share what we have been doing, and encourage one another in our artistic endeavors.

Finally, I would like to share with you a prayer found in the Book of Common Prayer, that I think is really quite appropriate for us, in this community:

O God, whom saints & angels delight to worship in heaven: Be ever present with your servants who seek through art & music to perfect the praises offered by your people on earth; & grant to them even now glimpses of your beauty, & make them worthy at length to behold it unveiled for evermore; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Christ be with you as you create.


Upcoming Symposium on Faith and Art: Beauty and Splendor

I hope all of you are having a wonderful Easter season.  This is such a beautiful season as we celebrate and remember Christ's resurrection.  Speaking of beauty, Trinity will be hosting a Symposium on Faith and Art this upcoming Monday 4th, dealing with Beauty and Splendor at 7:30pm at Trinity Vineyard.  

I hope you can find time to make it this Monday and join in this growing community within our church.  This is a great way to meet and connect with other artists, gain in site on this particular subject, and join in a Townhall discussion with a panel we have compiled.  

I also would like to take this time to remind you that we will also be having community groups meeting the following day (Tuesday May 5th) meeting at two locations: Carol St. Cafe, and Octane, both at 8:00pm.  These groups are designed to foster deeper relationships with others as Believing Artists and also to encourage one another in our creative efforts.  

See you Monday!



The Future of This Beautiful Thing

Our God is a God of Creation. Our God is a God of Renewal.

We are to be about Creating. We are to be about Renewal.

Imagine a place.  A place in this city that is dedicated to the beautification and renewal of the city and its people.  A place that gives and nurtures through art, music, dance, writing and the planting of gardens.  Imagine the church returning to its patronage days. Days when it saw value in caring for its talented artisans and encouraged them to shape culture in the church's image and not the converse.  

I have had such a returning vision for some time now and I would like to broadcast it because it is not mine.  I share this openly with a hope.  That this will fall on some hearts who have just the resources, gifts and means to bring it to fruition for the sake of God and his Kingdom.  Many have given the advice not to do this, that I should hide the idea for fear of it being "taken" and completed by someone else.  I say to this warning, if it is for the Kingdom and in the spirit of our Resurrected Jesus then let it come to pass by any means necessary.  This vision has just been lent to me for my stewarding - I do not own it.

The vision goes something like this: Whitehall Street is an industrial area near downtown Atlanta that has fallen into disrepair and despair in our midst.  Take some of this land and break the ground allowing light and water to penetrate the soil.  

Phase 1: We get some of our most talented gardners and landscape designers and we put them to the task of planting a public garden.  The garden must be self sustaining and therefore independent on irrigation from outside sources, like public water.  Rain harvesting may be utilized but only simple methods allowed.  Hardscapes will be incorporated into the design and part of the hardscape will be a public amphitheater.

Phase 2: We begin hosting events in the garden from the amphitheater.  Harvest festivals. Health days for the homeless.  Public free lectures and concerts.  Performing arts events.  Etc. The events and garden would be fiscally sustained by donations and ecumenically sponsored. The center could be supported by the city, state and federal government grants as well. So by this point there is a place and now you have added assembly and the exchange of idea to that place. People who attend these public events give what they can to the mission of the center.

Phase 3: We build or retrofit studio space, a gallery, and sanctuary at this place.  Artists will occupy the spaces for periods of time, create, as well as give to the community in teaching, sharing and contributing to the center's beauty.  Artists of all disciplines would propose a residency and a panel of artists would select who can come and reside and create.

Phase 4: We build or retrofit retreat space, counseling offices, and common areas for city residents to come for mental and spiritual healing, for rest and sabbath within the city.  Imagine coming and retreating in simple monastic quarters where there are no distractions.  There is only a bed, a small desk, a rug and a chair.  Your purpose for dwelling in these rooms is to be restored and be contemplative in a city built for hurry and worry.  Agencies, therapists, and counselors who meet with people on a regular basis may operate out of these spaces caring for those in Atlanta. 

It will be called the Center for Art & Urban Renewal. 

If you have any direction, leads, recommendations, thoughts, banter, etc. I would love it.  Please share it by emailing me.  You may get my email address by clicking on contributors, Jeff Guy.

May our Lord Jesus Christ guide us as we work toward this future.


Christ Crucified

Swiss Painter, Antonio Ciseri, painted this from 1864-1870. The Transport of Christ to the Sepulcher

This image pierced me when I saw it recently.  I feel like each year, toward the end of Lent, I am asked to yet again forsake my comforts to walk with a processional as is depicted here.  I feel the earth shift beneath my feet and occasionally dare to look upon my savior's broken body moving down the street.  I hear weeping the likes of which hadn't been heard since Jeremiah lamented a lost and dying Jerusalem.  I walk this road each year.  May we quiet ourselves for the next few days.  Where ever you may work- your studio, your writing shed, your workshop, your music room, your office- pray without ceasing.  Think of Jesus as you create.

Jesus, Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.


Trinity Artists Community Groups Round 2

image courtesy of shannon newby. shannon and erik host the northwest community group at octane.

Yep. You heard it right. Its time for round two of the community groups. They will meet at the same locations as before on the First Tuesday of the Month, April 7th; one in the Northwest at Octane and one in the Southeast at Carroll St. Café.

We come together, share what we've been working on and this go around we will talk about how Lent is going for us. Has it had an impact on our creative time? Has it been a period of growth for us as Artists? Have we made margins for creativity and contemplation?

As a primer for this coming community night, you can post a comment to these questions below. We hope for the blog to become more interactive. Can't wait to hear from you. Christ be with you as you create.


A Word on Lent and the Approaching Easter Season

Greetings fellow artists, I hope that you are all having a very contemplative and meaningful Lent thus far.  I can say that this is truly the first year I have participated in Lent, and fasting of something I love, and honestly it is teaching me more discipline not only in my faith, but also in my art.  I think this is a great time to create new habits of discipline that can extend well past the season of Lent, especially in the realm of quiet contemplation and reflection.  As Jeff mentioned in his speech at the previous Symposium, we, not only as artists but also as Christians, need to be intentional about setting aside time for contemplation, prayer, and reflection.  As I mentioned before this is a great time to create those habits by cutting out things in our lives that we possibly don't need.  There are countless others around the world and within our own community going through Lent together, creating a kind of support group, which is good to have while creating new and good habits.

I think the idea behind the 40 days of fasting in this season is quite beautiful.  Most of us have chosen to fast something that can, at times cause either a physical or mental discomfort, a reminder of the suffering of Christ and a way to identify ourselves in some small way with his sufferings, and by doing so making the approaching season of easter even more meaningful to us.

I would like to encourage you, in your times of intentional contemplation during this season, to continue to create in your personal forms of art.  if you have chosen to give up something for Lent I encourage you to stay strong in your fast and remember that you are not alone.

Also I would like to take this time to let you know about our next upcoming Symposium on Faith and Art, which will be May 4th and dealing with Beauty and Splendor, as this date will find itself within the season of celebration that is Easter.

One last thing, I want to remind you of is the Community Groups that meet the first Tuesday of every month.  The next Community Group night is coming soon; April 7th at Octane and Carroll Street Café.  For more information on that you can reference the entry below or email Jeff or myself.

God Bless,


TrinityArtists Community Groups

A group of artists took a retreat by train in the northeast long ago. I don't think you could take the same shot on a MARTA train. Its a problem with MARTA's design.

Tonight is the First Tuesday of the Month and so it is time for us to meet up and talk about what's going on.  Micah & Whitney Stansell will be hosting the group in the Southeast of the city while Erik & Shannon Newby will host the Northwest group. 

The Southeast group will meet at Carroll Street Café at 8:00pm. Carroll Street Café is in the shadows of the old mill in Cabbagetown; an area known to have smelled of stewed cabbage in olden days because that's all the workers who lived there could afford to eat. Creativity often springs from poverty or so I'm told so it seems like a good place for creative people to meet.

The Northwest group is going to meet at 8:00pm at Octane - Home of the best espresso! (Yes, I said it and I will fight to the death all who oppose.) Octane is in the ever-growing-hipper Westside of town. Neighbored by commercial art galleries such as Kiang and Sandler Hudson this area has been saturated with art dialogue and thought for some years now. 

As mentioned before, we wish for the gathering to be a chance for us to further relationship as well as encourage and care for each other as Believing Artists. Perhaps some good creative collaboration will take place. We can also voice vocational concerns and network during the evening. 

See you at 8:00pm where ever is closest to you! (The leaders will be wearing makeshift name tags.)


Truly Golden

I am overjoyed.  I feel that the Symposium on Monday night offered much to be celebrated as a community.  I enjoyed sharing my story with you all & you were good attentive listeners.  I thank you & am honored.

Over 100 artists, art appreciators, hobbyists, & all those in between (dabblers) came & got there early, I might add (something rare at Trinity).  I pray your evening was enjoyable, that you met someone new, that you grew as an artist or that you were inspired to create.  If you have a moment, fill out the poll up at the top right of the blog.  We wish for your feedback so that we can better the event- dialing it into our needs as a creative community. 

The next Symposium is on the books for Monday, May 4th at 7:30. As it will be the season of Easter we will focus the evening on Beauty & The Splendor of God revealed through Art.

Going from here, we are going to initiate two community groups of artists based on the sign up response from Monday night.  These groups will meet the First Tuesday of the Month. One will meet in the Northwest side of the city, (Octane Coffee Bar) & one will meet to the Southeast side of the city, (Carroll Street Café).  This will give us the chance to do what so many of the creative saints of old did;  speak of art over tasty beverages.  Imagine Caffé Giubbe RosseSalon of Berta Zuckerkandl, or Caffé Trieste but in Atlanta & with your brilliance.  

When we gather we will ask one another, "What are you working on right now?"  This calls us into accountability but also gives us the chance to further relationships, collaborate, talk shop & address vocational challenges as Believing Artists.  

To join one of these groups: show up at 8:00pm! Tuesday, March 3rd at either Octane or Carroll St. Café.