“but while he was still a long way off…”

prodigal art festival

i wish i knew my way around a canvas.

over the past four years, fellowship has hosted an annual art festival that has grown to include a few hundred amateur and professional artists from both the church and the community. it says “we want you to know that there are churches who value your creativity.” (over half of the artists who entered don’t go to our church). we craft a sunday morning teaching series around the festival, worship services, art workshops, last year included a concert of original music—all leading up to a juried exhibition of all the pieces which is publicized to the greater little rock area.

this year’s festival theme is “the prodigal,” based off of Luke 15 (the lost coin, the lost sheep, the lost sons). i can’t wait to see what happens when a couple hundred artists wrap their creative minds and paint brushes around that. starting sunday, when people walk into the church, it’ll be all around us.

i just found out that this year’s festival will also include the submissions of a bunch of inmates from some nearby prisons.

prison inmates…creating art…based on the prodigal……and sharing it…

(“and there was much rejoicing in heaven”)


~ by bradherndon on September 18, 2008.

2 Responses to ““but while he was still a long way off…””

  1. Do you have pictures of some of the art and how you set it up.
    Such a great idea. We’ve talked about having an art show, but this is more along the line of what we should do.

  2. i always forget to capture some of this on film. i’ve got plenty of pics of the various art pieces. i’d be happy to fill ya in on anything i can about this.

    the basics of how our team has gone about the festival are:

    1. Send out a “call to artists” 6 months ahead of the festival. promote the theme, details, timelines, etc. Publicize through the church, newspapers, artist communities, whatever. Major opportunity for people in the church to get the info out.
    2. Host various workshops, from art instruction to a pastor speaking about the theme/passage for any of the artists. This is a good opportunity to help the artists develop their concepts. It’s yet another opportunity to connect them with our church. (The themes that we’ve done include Psalm 23, Genesis 1, Jonah, The Prodigal (Luke 15). We always focus on a particular passage of scripture—makes it so easy and there’s so much there to work with, as seen in all the inspiration/interpretation that artists come up with.
    3. A month before the festival, artists email their information with a pic of the finished piece, as well as an inspiration statement (we put that next to the piece at the festival). This is used for admission to the festival. We divide up the art into students, artists, professionals, and judge accordingly.
    3. Art drop-off day at the church. Judging ensues. We use 3 people from the community. University professors are excellent candidates.
    4. Set up the art. Our church currently has a large central plaza/lobby where we can set up the 200-300 pieces. When we didn’t, we put them wherever worked, including in a gymnasium. Renting an offsite space is also a cool option. Moving the art is always the biggest deal…no fun at all.
    5. For about 2 weeks have an open gallery for people to come to. Midway through it, we have a celebration/awards ceremony/concert, and then begin to sell the art (a HUGE pull for the artists. everyone wants to sell their stuff). Artists set their own prices and the church gets a small cut (to cover publicity/set-up/etc).
    6. Through some generous underwriters, our church purchases some of the art to use around our building. I love it.

    This whole operation is run by a committee of volunteers in the church, and a couple staff people. They’re amazing.

    Like I said, we also coordinate the festival with our worship services through a teaching series—this is where I get involved. We’ll bring the art into the worship spaces, use it for song backgrounds, teach on the passages, have artists painting in the room during the services…an excellent opportunity to do some different things and to include artists in the worship services in any number of ways.

    sky’s the limit for something like this. lots of work, no doubt, but exciting, especially when it’s focused outside the church.

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