Visual Art in Worship: A Model of Collaboration

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in Local

Jupp ReginaArtist Regina Jupp was a presenter at the Calvin Symposium on WorshipArtistic expression in the church is often associated with performing: music, dance or drama.

But the visual arts – painting, sculpture, use of fiber, cloth and linen, photography, graphic arts, etc. - also come into play in glorifying God and emulating his creativity.

And Regina Jupp knows – that in the church - a collaborative effort is key to the process.

"The more people involved the better," said Jupp, a Chicago-area artist and church/non-profit consultant..

Jupp was one of dozens of presenters at the annual Calvin Symposium on Worship, Jan. 30 - Feb. 1, 2020 at Calvin University in Grand Rapids. Hundreds of seminars were offered covering worship-themed topics such as music, liturgy, cultural influences, children/youth, theology and many more.

"If God is calling you to use art in ministry, then it's part of a greater work of art within your church body: an artwork that uses people as brushes and love as paint," she told one of several visual arts seminar classes.

THE ARTISTIC PROCESS

Trust is essential in relationships among artistic associates. That includes church persons who might become part of your 'creative choir' yet may not see themselves as artists but can bring skills or materials to a project.

     
 

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For one worship art "assignment," Jupp was asked to decorate her church sanctuary for Pentecost. "They wanted something huge," she recalled of her task with only a tiny budget.

"I got a bunch of scrap-bookers together, made the coffee, and told them I needed (to cut out) tongues of fire," she said of various scrap shades of orange, red and yellow.

Glue-sticking them onto a long piece of heavyweight drawing paper provided a massive banner at the front of the sanctuary, the centerpiece of their work.

In that collaborative effort, talents and time were combined to provide a visual help as the congregation celebrated the coming of the Holy Spirit.

A church's 'creative choir' can include quilters, decorators, sewers, bakers, photographers and even contractors, all of whom can contribute materials, ideas or hands-on help. "Pinterest addicts can help with research," Jupp noted.

A church's core team for visual arts could include a worship pastor or elder, layperson, a "creator" and someone who has a pastoral perspective. Also there should be a theological role that can speak for biblical integrity and consistency. By the way, be humble.

"Group brainstorming is like building a snowball," she said. "Your idea might not show on the outside, but the snowball wouldn't be as strong or full without your input on the inside."

PERSPECTIVE MATTERS

There are differing approaches if the artistic idea comes from church leadership or from the visual arts team itself.
A pastor may be planning a sermon series and is requesting appropriate accompanying visuals. Be clear on direction and expectations, she advises. Also, keep trying to involve others, and make the project accessible to different ages and ability levels.

In advancing your own ideas, be specific and know the scope, cost and materials needed. And validate others in the church with its production and installation. "Ultimately, the audience is God," Jupp offered. "Is the art a 'pleasing incense' from start to finish?"

HER OWN JOURNEY

Jupp's own participation at the symposium was in question. Last spring, the married mother of three was diagnosed with stage 3 ovarian cancer. Several months later, she was asked if she would lead seminars at the January symposium.

"I said I'd have to speak with my doctors," she recalled, not knowing if she would even survive the year. "I told God I would continue to live my life until he told me otherwise."

She completed her chemotherapy in December. And Christmas week she got the news that her cancer was in remission.

"So, I've been praying for you for months," she told seminar attendees. "For me, this (symposium) became a light to look forward to in the future; a candle down the road through some dark days when I was really sick."

IT'S ALL ABOUT WORSHIP

Jupp said collaborating may mean that sometimes you must work with "difficult" people. "But think about what God called us to above anything else – not painting or drawing, but first: love God and love your neighbor as yourself. Be gracious...this, too, is an act of worship."

Note: Samples of Jupp's art and her bio information are available at her website, www.reginajupp.com

     
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Author Information
Terry DeBoer
About:
Terry is journalist who writes for newspapers, magazines, newsletters and websites. His most frequented “beat” is arts and entertainment. He is married with two children and lives in Grand Rapids.

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