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Deacon Digest for March 2021: Art as a Faith Expression

As we begin Lent and our season of reflection, I find myself thinking back to just last month when Jake asked me to lead the February “Art as a Faith Expression” Zoom confirmation class. It was a daunting thought. But, before I knew it, I had a plan that would hopefully engage the confirmands in meaningful discussion. And, I am now happy to report that I was thoroughly impressed with the class, their insightful questions and answers, and their overall interest. 

by Jean Gresham on March 03, 2021

As we begin Lent and our season of reflection, I find myself thinking back to just last month when Jake asked me to lead the February “Art as a Faith Expression” Zoom confirmation class. It was a daunting thought. But, before I knew it, I had a plan that would hopefully engage the confirmands in meaningful discussion. And, I am now happy to report that I was thoroughly impressed with the class, their insightful questions and answers, and their overall interest. 
 
I began the class with a tour my glass studio and explanation about the fused glass process. As a glass artist, I design jewelry and items such as bowls, plates, seasonal items, and pieces of artwork. I cut glass and put it together into patterns and designs while continuously playing with color and light. We then talked more specifically about how my faith and artwork are intertwined.
 
The influence of my spiritual beliefs within my art is strong. I explained to the students that I believe that God is love; God is grace; and God is all around us. I believe that when we spread love, kindness, and beauty, we are both sharing our gifts and sharing God’s love. One of my customers shared that some of my glass pieces remind her of the cosmos, “The glittery shimmering parts invite me to consider the stars …each creation is unique. When noticing this during my visits, I can sense God is inviting me to connect with God’s creation.” 
 
I feel closest to God when I am outside in nature, when something amazing happens, and when I am engrossed, such as when I am creating my artwork or sitting peacefully in church. During the January confirmation class, they had talked about people who feel like they are interacting with God when they create music and Mrs. Catino had shared that she feels like she is praising God when she sings. I believe that creating both music and art can be spiritual experiences. 
 
Beauty, colors, and people speak to us all differently. I am inspired by them in a myriad of ways. What is your definition of beauty? How do different colors and people make you feel? For me, beauty is often found outside, especially near the Shoreline or on the water, and I can become mesmerized by the variety of different colors all around us. People also inspire me, such as my mentors, friends, and family. These people push me, making me better. They see my potential and love me for who I am, mistakes and all. I believe God does too.
 
Glass is something we all use every day and often take for granted. It is made out of sand under extremely hot conditions. Working with glass is all about breaking it apart, changing it, and making it new again. It can be perfectly smooth and yet has stresses and can be scratched. Sounds like a metaphor for life, doesn’t it?
 
Glass entrances; it inspires. Whether transparent, reflective, or iridescent, light hits it and passes through it or bounces off of it. One cannot think about glass without thinking about light, which is a consistent theme in the bible. In John 8:12, Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. He who follows me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” Remember, we all walk in God’s light.
 
What you see and feel when looking at artwork will be different from what others think. Everyone interprets art in their own way. Its meaning, impact, and relevance to you will always be unique to you. Embracing this and all our differences is the key. I closed by sharing my hope for each of the confirmands, that they find the beauty around them, recognize it, create art, and relax knowing that God is with them all the way. Love always wins.

Jean Gresham,
Co-Chair of the Board of Deacons 

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