Art in the Church

Over the course of three weeks (28 May – 15 June), Transpositions hosted Art in the Church workshop. We gathered scholars, practitioners, and artists and asked them to reflect upon and consider issues that emerge when art and the Church intersect. Presented as articles, interviews and worked examples, we hope these posts serve as catalysts for new projects in your own local church contexts.

You might be wondering how we chose the particular examples of art in the church that we did.  More often than not, we chose to feature examples because of the issues and questions that they raise rather than the artistic or aesthetic quality of the work of art. While the latter is important, we felt that the former would result in greater interaction and learning. Furthermore, we believe that works of art made for the church cannot be judged according to the same criteria as works of art made for the gallery.  Although this distinction is likely to be controversial with some, it is our conviction that greater inclusivity in our selection process will encourage more people to explore new ways that art can be utilized in their own churches.  And this, at the end of the day, is the goal of our workshop.

We divided the contributions into three main themes: art in the church, art in worship, and supporting the arts. Several of the contributions are the result of the Call for Submissions we put out in April. We invite you to follow the schedule below; for the duration of the workshop, there will be a button on the sidebar to access the schedule easily.

Art in the Church (29 May – 1 June)

  • Tuesday, 29 May: Maria Fee of Redeemer Presbyterian Church, New York City considers what the church can uniquely offer to artists living in a major cultural centre.
  • Wednesday, 30 May: Revd Jim Craig, an arts chaplain in Northern England, discusses the challenges of supporting the arts in a small, local church setting.
  • Thursday, 31 May: Elizabeth Noyes reflects upon her involvement in the organization of the show The Spirit of Prophecy for St James Cathredal in Seattle, WA.
  • Friday, 1 June: Chris Breslin, Gathering Church, Durham, NC shares his church’s experience of creating an album of hymns for both worship and distribution.

Art in Worship (4-8 June)

  • Monday, 4 June: Nate Risdon of the Brehm Center for Worship, Theology and the Arts at Fuller Seminary considers the practice of transforming a space for worship.
  • Tuesday, 5 June: Amber Salladin, Minister for Classical Music at St James Muswell Hill, London, discusses her experience of organizing a blend music worship service for Easter.
  • Wednesday, 6 June: Jay Thomas Hewitt, Pastor of Community Formation, Central Presbyterian Church in St Louis, MI reflects upon a Good Friday tenebrae service.
  • Thursday, 7 June: In an interview with David Allsbrook of Plasso Design, Allsbrook suggests how one might ‘incorporate visual art creation into corporate worship.’
  • Friday, 8 June: Paul LeFeber, Blackhawk Church, Madison, WI describes one example of how painting and graphic design can tell the Biblical narrative.

Supporting the Arts in the Church (11-15 June)

  • Monday, 11 June: Jenn Cavanaugh, M. A. in theology and the arts from Fuller Seminary, offers some guidelines for setting up a ‘gallery’ in a church.
  • Tuesday, 12 June: Lance Mansfield presents By/For, an innovative new form of church art patronage set up in Northwest USA.
  • Wednesday, 13 June: Jonathan Evens of commission4mission discusses how his organization enables churches towards commissioning works of contemporary art.
  • Thursday, 14 June: Jonathan Koestlé-Cate presents ‘Art in the Cathedral: The Blurring of Sacred/Secular Space,’ raising interesting issues for a church exhibiting art.
  • Friday, 15 June: Luann Jennings, director of the Church & Art Network, presents a compelling case for arts leadership in the church and the artist’s role to that end.