05 October 2011

Ekphrasis Report #13

Have you ever seen a work of visual art used successfully as an integral part of a worship service?

On this past chilly Monday evening, a few of us gathered at my home church for the first "official" Ekphrasis of the year. Our Sept. meeting was mostly planning, although we did some good workshopping as well.

Anyway, SPB, MB, NI, JF, ES, JA, and I gathered to share works and talk. This was the first workshop meeting that was also open to "interested observers," and a couple of the newcomers were just that. This is part of our slowly unfolding campaign to network with a large number of churches and to get involved with the whole Christian community in our area.

MB began by reading the first chapter of a novel-in-progress: a gripping, fast-paced, visually stunning tale of fairies, mystery, and murder.

SPB then shared an ink (pen and inkwash) landscape drawing whose intricate detail drew much praise. We had a brief little discussion (with much jovial ribbing) about our ability to read meanings into a visual work with frightful dexterity.

JA then shared a poem, a tightly-knit personal lyric, full of careful word choices and interesting modifiers, ostensibly the tale of an ending love, but really a more domesticated account of a small marital dilemma. A very beautiful, understated work.

Between and among workshopping these pieces, we had an excellent discussion about visual arts in church. Hence the question above: Have you ever seen a work of visual art -- painting, drawing, sculpture -- used in a worship service? Not just displayed in the sanctuary, but mentioned by the pastor, used as inspiration for music, developed as the basis of a sermon? How did it work? Did it enhance worship? Did it distract? What kind of work was it? Was it explicitly biblical, or abstract, or what? Please share your experience!


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