THE FINE ARTS AND CHRISTIAN FAITH

“Faith Journey” by Mrs Trish Acres

With my personal spiritual experiences in mind while creating each piece, this collection of paintings is an abstract expression of feelings, thoughts, and memories. Within each painting I’ve used various design elements to express this collection of spiritually fuelled emotions; whether it be joy and revelation when I first came to faith, emptiness and confusion recalled while living a lifestyle that was not God-honouring, or awe and wonder upon experiencing God’s grace beyond forgiveness. Although these expressions are my own, my hope would be that the viewer could relate emotions from their own faith journey to individual paintings and connect  with the series on a personal level.

Painting in abstraction uses visual design elements such as colour, line, texture, movement or space (to name a few) as the subject matter rather than a recognizable object. Within this series, I have given each painting a one-word title for the viewer to reflect on as they become engaged in the painting, exploring their own thoughts, feelings, or experiences. Each of the 6 paintings is finished on sanded paper using various tools to move, etch, and blend the pastel.

“’With Glowing Hearts’” – Canadian Congregational Song” by Dr Joy Berg

Congregation song has been part of Worship life since the beginning of humanity! Still, music and text for the congregation continues to be composed today, and even within our specific culture. This presentation will give a very quick overview of Canadian hymnody through four stages – from “‘Twas in the moon of Wintertime” through to the multitude of composers and authors from across Canada now! Included will be a very brief discussion on what makes us distinctive – what makes a “Canadian” hymn!

“Mystery of Faith” by Mr Erik Cheung

I believe faith is a “realization” that grows stronger with experience. In religion, it is life experience. In art, it is about creative experience. These are parallel experiences that radiate from a point – the self.

Trusting in the mastery gained from the years and believing in an aesthetic outcome, I have no intention to try to represent anything in my work, not realism nor abstraction. My art is about the idea of being freed from style and forms; I simply live the process of every work and let it “be”, faith carries it through. That is how each work is made unique and the moments I spent with each piece say a part of me.

Doodle art shares the same ideals but it loiters around in freedom without an aim; my art possesses a structure, build upon aesthetic decisions, which contains freedom. When arcs and streamlines collide with organic shapes, images are born from the “chemistry”. I then base my knowledge to manipulate the elements and land choices accordingly. As intention is the soul of Chinese art, “Having no intention as intention” is my developed philosophy and theme behind. Strangely enough, this shares a parallel idea with another philosophy from the East: Using no way as way, having “no limitation as limitation” Jeet Kune Do, Bruce Lee.

My art is also a discipline that could be taught; practical sessions were experimented; a 74 old person who has never drawn in her life and believes she does not have a talent for art, tried it and accomplished an amazing. The secret lies in letting go and clinging to faith.

God has put creativity in my genes, led me around to collect necessary pieces of skills in the past 30 years, left me in the dark to do my own reflection, research and development; I trust that He would have prepared a stage to spread these findings when it is time.

“Conclusive Separation of the Visual Arts in Western Society from the Church in the Late Nineteenth Century” by Revd Daniel Deyell

Just at the point where the western European church experiences its rupture of homogeneous theology, in the century of Renaissance/Reformation, the visual arts experience a cataclysmic break with the Holy Christian Church. The fractures grow to drive artists away from the churchly subject matter of biblical and religious legends. Artists not only recognize the centricity of human beings, but they recoil from engaging subject matter that may return them to the authority of any church, especially the Roman Catholic Church. More and more, the whole process of art production is extricated from churchly patronage until the 19th century revels in “l’art pour l’art”. Art that is produced for church patrons assumes subservience to styles developed by increasingly independent visual thinkers alienated and segregated from religious attachment.

Non-western church arts rigorously adhere to entrenched rules of portrayal, like Russian Orthodox icons, or they glibly imitate local indigenous craft forms. By the beginning of the 20th century visual art for Christian audiences is either insipid pastiche of the established academic schools or is completely disassociated from the heterodox theology of the western world. Ironically, artists of the late nineteenth century who show the greatest interest in the spiritual in their art and who exhibit the most innovation with Christian subject matter are artists who are far from the orthodox dogmas of the Church. On the contrary, their spiritual quests lead them into individualistic mysticism and fringe confessions that reflect little, if any, obeisance to the confessions of Christendom. Societies like La Rose Croix and the Nabis attract esoteric individuals like J.K. Huysmans and Sar Peladan. Individuals like Vincent van Gogh and Paul Gauguin work in their own studios but not in isolation of the ferment that yields twentieth century modernism.

“Visual Journaling Prayer Book” by Kim Fjordbotten

Find joy in small daily activities. Try visual journaling. Learn how to start your own prayer book. Enjoy a quick presentation where layouts are shown page-by-page. We will discuss how to gather thoughts, words and images then combine them to create interesting layouts. Enjoy the freedom to combine drawing, painting, lettering and collage. Don’t worry if you can’t draw. We will collage images. Think you can’t paint? Inconceivable, anyone can colour a page. The process is contemplative and playful. It is two-parts storytelling and poetry and one-part goal setting and problem solving. Take home instructions for making a book out of one piece of paper. This is a “crash course” in methods and materials for art-making to encourage people to get started in art and helping professionals to get the most from their materials.

“Trust: Lessons from Psalm 139” by Mrs Marilyn Nilsson Grabinsky

Art is the personal expression of an artist’s ideas and feelings about life. Every time artists present their artwork to the public, they make themselves vulnerable to public opinion about the worth of both the artwork and the artist’s intent. In the face of society’s definitions of success and failure in the secular art world, it is often difficult for Christian artists to confidently trust in God’s purpose for their lives. This visual presentation of paintings, drawings, and installation by the artist is given together with the narrative of how the poetry of Psalm 139 has reinforced and influenced her decisions and her artistic practice from hopeful beginnings through difficult circumstances until today.

“Performing Hildegard, The Ordo Collective” by Revd Gwen Bright and Ms Caroline Howarth

Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179) was one of the pre-eminent figures of 12th century Europe. Abbess, mystic, healer, naturalist, author, and composer, Hildegard influenced the lives of the powerful in both Church and state and left a legacy of music, art and writing that is as eclectic as that of Leonardo da Vinci. Among her musical works is Ordo Virtutum, the “Way of the Virtues”, one of the earliest musical dramas or operas ever performed. Ordo Virtutum dramatizes the struggle between the virtues and the devil for the soul of a young novice. It may have been first performed in 1152 by Hildegard’s nuns on the occasion of the dedication of her new abbey at St. Rupertsberg near Bingen on the Rhine River. Rev. Gwen Bright will discuss the piece in the it’s historical context and stage director, Caroline Howarth will discuss the approach taken in staging the piece for a modern audience. A full performance of Ordo Virtutum will be presented by the Ordo Collective on Friday evening of the conference.

“Little Froggy Explores the BIG World” by Revd David Kitz

Little Froggy Explores the BIG World is an award-winning children’s book written by David Kitz. David draws on his wealth of experience as a pastor, teacher, and storyteller to deliver a truly entertaining presentation of this story. “Boring” is not a word that is used to describe Little Froggy.

Brilliant illustrations by watercolour artist Mircea Gabor draw kids right into the story. Through the magic of power point projection, the same high-resolution images, which the artist created for the book, are used to transport you right to the pond. You can almost smell the pond water. The characters and the story come alive. Children are enthralled.

But Little Froggy is not just a pretty story. It touches on the big issues: sin, disobedience, and finding our way back to God. It’s both a cautionary tale and a parable about the pitfalls and triumphs of the human journey told in a format that even a four-year-old can understand.

“Psalms Alive! Connecting Heaven and Earth” by David Kitz

In the Psalms we find the wellspring of praise. This has been the churches’ fount of worship, from ancient hymns, to stately concertos, to modern praise choruses, they all find their source in the Psalms. Let all that is within me praise His holy name! “Psalms Alive!” is a one-man drama presentation by David Kitz. David draws on his years of experience as a pastor, teacher, and actor to deliver a direct Word based appeal to the hearts and minds of his audience. The Holy Spirit moves upon His Word to bring the Scriptures to life with truth and power. Consequently, lives are changed by the Spirit and the Word. The purpose of the presentation is for the audience to experience the power and dramatic passion of the Psalms.

“Music Therapy – Incorporating Faith into My Professional and Person-Centered  Practice” by Mr John Lawrence

When I first began training to become a music therapist, we were instructed to “avoid spiritual and religious interventions at all costs”, in order to avoid the possibility of “influencing your client through a position of authority in the therapeutic relationship”. As music therapy has grown and developed, spirituality has regained a measure of appropriateness and acceptability, particularly when working in palliative/hospice situations. It can also arise in family oriented work, and is one of the underpinnings of why I choose to work as a music therapist. This presentation will demonstrate how incorporate my faith in my professional, person-centered practice. My method will be a combination of PowerPoint, musical recital and commentary. I wish the audience to learn that: 1) Music is an incredible tool, not merely entertainment or a skill to be learned, that music therapists employ on a daily basis. 2) Music therapists serve those that are often marginalized or disregarded, in order to assist them in reaching their full potential. 3) God is the one, and true, creator of music—not only is it used to give him praise and to share our knowledge of him, but it used by fellow Christians, of many faiths, throughout the world for the betterment of individuals and society in general.

“An Embattled Soul: César Franck’s Piano Quintet in F Minor” by Dr Danielle Lisboa

The presentation explores the dichotomy between sacred and profane in César Franck’s Piano Quintet in F minor in the light of new biographical research. As a leader of the new French School, César Franck’s teachings influenced an entire generation of composers in the second half of the nineteenth century. In the article, the author investigates the role of the Franckian movement on the rebirth of chamber music in France, focusing on the analysis of the Piano Quintet in F minor as a vehicle for the composer’s liberation towards an ultra-Romantic trend, the very object of antagonism displayed in his sacred compositions.

Premièred in the same year as the oratorio Les Béatitudes, the pinnacle of Franck’s liturgical output, the Piano Quintet exposes an often overlooked side of the composer’s personality. The work presents traces of linear voice-leading, thematic transformations, and modulatory procedures indebted to the Wagner/Liszt models in a time of fierce anti-Germanic campaigns in France. The author suggests the interpretation of the quintet as a reflection of an embattled soul: Franck’s deep sense of righteousness, rooted in his Christian faith, and suppressed desires amid links between the composition of the piano quintet and Franck’s pupil Augusta Holmès.

Claude Debussy’s La cathédrale engloutie (The Sunken Cathedral). Préludes (Book I): Performance (piano solo) and commentary.

“‘Ears to Hear’: Designs of Faith in Bach’s Music” by Mrs Jennifer Maxfield

As the consummate church musician, Johann Sebastian Bach is perhaps the prime example of a Christian expressing his faith through music, often in very specific ways. He was the highest practitioner of an art devoted to both apprehending and reflecting divine significance in patterns. In incorporating theologically resonant numbers, musical figures, and images, Bach embedded in his music a very personal testimony for those “who have ears to hear”.

This practice is beautifully illustrated by the second movement of a cantata he composed in the midpoint of his career, for the 12th Sunday after Pentecost 1725, on the hymn of the day, “Lobe den Herren” (Praise to the Lord). In this setting the day’s prescribed Scripture on the work of the Holy Spirit is expressed by violin, voice, and continuo in a vivid “floating” motif.

Twenty-some years later, as his life was drawing to a close, the composer transcribed this piece for organ, under a different title and text corresponding to a different liturgical season, in an adaptation organists and musicologists often have lamented as ungainly at best, ill-suited to the medium, even ill-considered. But its publication as the last of the six so-called Schuebler Chorales, among his late masterworks, bespeaks a more profound sense of design.

This presentation invites consideration of Bach’s expression of faith in these two pieces in the light of their texts and the theology implicit in them, the musical figures he employed, voicing and performance implications, and their context in the life of both the composer and the church. Ultimately a performance of the organ setting, “Kommst du nun, Jesu, vom Himmel herunter”, points to a rhetorical yearning for Jesus’ return amidst the challenges, sorrows, and gentle joy of
a believer’s life.

“The Visual Arts as Sources for Reformation History and Theology” by Dr John Maxfield

In the sixteenth-century Reformation, artists such as Martin Luther’s friend Lucas Cranach and his workshop conveyed the message of the Protestant Reformation through popular woodcut prints and fine painted altarpieces and other works of art displayed in the churches that adopted the Reformation. My presentation will show numerous artworks from the period and analyze their use, from popular propaganda (in the sixteenth-century equivalent of the newspaper cartoon, the popular woodcut featured on an inexpensive broadsheet), to the fine artworks that conveyed the rich soteriological themes of the Lutheran Reformation. The presentation will be structured to illustrate the various uses and themes of propaganda, and to analyze in detail major Reformation themes such as Law and Gospel, Christ as the only mediator between the sinner and God, and the atonement and resurrection victory of Jesus. I will also show various memorial epitaphs displayed in Lutheran churches that portrayed both Protestant clergy and laypeople as saints, that is, as people made holy before God through the gift of baptism and faith.

“In My Father’s House” by Geneva Moore

Here we have a copper plate etching, done with non-toxic printmaking technique (low voltage direct electricity), printed, by hand, with an etching press on high quality 100% cotton paper.

There is an extremely small house in my neighbourhood that I have been walking past for over twenty years. I have often marveled at just how incredibly small this house is! I began to have a compulsion to draw this house. After I worked on this etching for a long time, it came to me that this etching symbolizes Jesus’ words, John 14: 1-2 “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you”.

In this passage, “Mansions”, also translates as “abiding place”, or “secure dwelling”. Even in the tiniest of dwellings there is a secure abiding place, for Jesus said: “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them”. Matthew 18:20. The trees may be menacing, but the figures are secure inside their “Mansion”.

“The Triumphal Entry” by Geneva Moore

Here is a copper plate etching, done with non-toxic printmaking techniques (low voltage direct current electricity) and printed, by hand, with an etching press on high quality 100% cotton paper.

The composition of this etching is modeled on a medieval construct, of which I am fond. The etching portrays Christ entering the gates of Jerusalem, the week before his Crucifixion, an event now known as “Palm Sunday” and recorded in all four Gospels of the New Testament. Matt 21: 1-11, “. . . others cut branches from the tress and spread them on the road”. Mark 11:8a-10, Luke 19:35a-40, & John 12: 12, “Jesus sitting on a donkey to fulfill the prophecy found in Zech. 9:9, “Fear not, daughter of Zion; Behold your King is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt”. This act was a symbolic proclamation that Jesus is the Messiah. Also, I particularly wished to emphasize Luke 19:39-40, “And some of the Pharisees called to Him from the crowd, ‘Teacher, rebuke Your disciples’”. But He (Jesus) answered and said to them, “I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out”. This is why I put so many stones in the pathway in this etching.

In this rendition, people observe from atop sycamore trees, as did Zaccaeus, in Jericho, the previous day (Luke 19: 1-4). Also, the sycamore tree leaves harken to our own Canadian maple leaves.

One other point I wish to relate is the effect it had on me, personally, to render a “likeness” of our Lord. I feel that at this time, ego really did leave me and my hand was guided to portray Jesus as the perfect Lamb of God, serene, but knowing what lay ahead, and willing to fulfill his mission.

“Spirit(s)-Filled Work? The Case of Johann Heinrich Heil (1706-1764) Organist at St. Bartholomäi Lutheran Church in Zerbst, Germany” by Dr Barbara Reul

Little research has been carried out on how church administrators of the past dealt with employees whose work ethic and performance were affected or compromised by substance abuse. To what extent did Christian principles such as compassion and charity inform their actions and at which point were authorities asked to become involved?

This paper provides a valuable historical perspective by examining little-known archival sources extant at the Landeshauptarchiv Sachsen-Anhalt in Dessau, Germany. They detail the final years of Johann Heinrich Heil, supposedly a student of the famous Thomaskantor J. S. Bach in Leipzig. In autumn 1758 Heil was appointed organist at the Lutheran church of St. Bartholomäi in the small town of Zerbst, ruled by the princely family of Anhalt-Zerbst. Heil, also a gifted violinist, had managed to impress local court musicians and church officials during the challenging audition process.

A much less favourable picture emerged in late 1762, when Heil officially admitted to severe alcohol abuse. Nevertheless, the Consistory refrained from penalizing him, most likely because this would affect musical programming at the church negatively. Primary sources documenting Heil’s behaviour and work ethic in 1763/1764 reveal that he continued to struggle with leading the kind of virtuous, Christ-centred life that was expected from church employees. Neither eight days of arrest “with bread and water” nor continued prayer for his battered soul ultimately made a difference. Heil died on 18 October 1764, leaving behind not only huge debts, but also authorities whose actions compel us to draw contemporary connections and conclusions.

“To Serve and To Witness” by Daniel vanHeyst

As a painter, I stand in the Western fine arts tradition of making works of art for personal exploration and self-expression. But as a Christian, I also paint as a servant and a witness. As a servant to the church and society I can offer gifts of aesthetic pleasure and communications of truth. As a witness, I can collaborate with fellow-artists, teachers, and prophets in giving visible expression to faith concepts and questions. The paintings—whether in acrylic on canvas or encaustic on board—I will show at the conference are motivated by the call to serve and to bear witness.

“Jesus Figure as Modern Visual Art in Video Games” by the Visual Arts Club of CUCA

Jesus has been seen as an inspiration for visual media for visual art since his existence. However, we have explored his presents or rather a representation of him in modern video games. Specifically, we used the HALO series by Microsoft/Bungie/343 Industries main character master chief as an example. We explored several characteristics that they have in common. First of all we made a direct correlation between the main character “Master Chief” John 117 from the HALO series to Jesus Christ. Next we compared the actions they both made and the outcomes that came as a result. John displays the same mental determination and other traits and characteristics that are comparable through quotes from both the games and the bible to Christ. Lastly, even when given the choice John makes the same choice as Jesus to make what he thought would be the ultimate sacrifice. We feel the HALO series is a accurate representation of the video game industry as many choose to make their plot and main characters follow similar paths as Jesus Christ did.