To Churches: Trust your visual artists

I was surprised this morning to see an article in the Arkansas Democrat Gazette detailing an art festival at Fellowship Bible Church in Little Rock. Galleries and juried shows are increasing in frequency at churches across America, though they are still uncommon. According to the article, this annual festival began in 2005. It’s very encouraging to see a church taking such initiative.

The theme of this year’s show was Jonah. Previous exhibits dealt with Psalm 23 and the book of Genesis. Establishing such a theme is a fine and common practice, however I hope that this church — and others — also plan open shows, shows without themes (particularly overtly Biblical themes).

By always setting up a religious motif for such festivals, churches run the risk of implying a lack of trust in their artists. The artists are, hopefully, capable of creating culturally relevant and God-glorifying works without such rigid and pious guidelines.

The article continues by mentioning that Fellowship Bible earmarks funds each year to buy some of the artwork from the show. The pieces are then displayed in the main lobby. This putting of the money where the mouth is in this way is very important in affirming the call and work of the artists, as I’ve mentioned recently.


About pcNielsen
Paul Nielsen founded The Aesthetic Elevator late in 2005. He owns a piece of paper, located somewhere in his house (not on the wall), stating that he earned a B.F.A. from the University of Nebraska around about 2001. While there, he studied studied architecture, graphic design and ceramics, graduating with a degree in studio art. Paul presently serves as communications manager for a small non-profit doing their print design and marketing. He spends as much time sculpting in his studio as possible — which is not nearly enough. Visit his website at

One Response to To Churches: Trust your visual artists

  1. chad says:

    The idea of an open show at a church could be really great. We just had one here at Absbury and the level of work that was there was great. Thanks for the article link

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