Manifest Creative Arts Festival returns to the Cooranbong campus of Avondale College of Higher Education, March 20-23. In anticipation, I caught up with winners in five of the categories awarded in 2012, to gain insight into the relationship between their art and their faith.
You’re passionate about your art. Why?
Someone wise once told me I didn’t need to make Christian films—my faith will seep into whatever I make.
Shelley Poole (fine arts): Art allows me a space to reflect, to problem solve and to heal. Painting can be rewarding, but it’s also confronting. Sometimes I’m singing at the top of my lungs, at other times I’m crying on the floor.
Sara Thompson (writing): I love creating characters and situations that reflect our life’s experiences. Finding different ways to express these experiences is challenging, but having someone thank you for writing something that brought them closer to God is rewarding.
Nathan Dalton (filmmaking): Filmmaking is stressful, compromising and heart breaking, yet somehow therapeutic. There’s something special about making something that doesn’t exist elsewhere.
Josh Bolst (filmmaking): Operating video cameras in church from a young age sparked my interest in film, and now I love having the opportunity to portray important concepts through a medium our culture relates to.
Anna Beaden (young achiever): One of my favourite ways to express an idea is to compose a piece of music, but it’s the lyrics that most interest me—if they’re profound and meaningful to my life, I find them faith building. Words in songs are easy to memorise. Keeping uplifting, positive lyrics in my head has a positive effect on my life.
Shelley Poole, Sara Thompson and Nathan Dalton.
What role does creativity play in your faith journey?
Anna: A lot of people talk to God, but sometimes we don’t spend enough time listening. For me, songwriting is listening: sometimes I spend hours at the piano reading through my Bible waiting for inspiration to come. Singing the verses helps bring them to life—they become much more than words on a page.
Sara: I write to help make sense of the world around me. In a spiritual context, it’s my way of connecting to God as a form of worship. Writing then becomes a team activity.
Josh: I use film to share my faith. Creating films that lead people closer to God is exciting and rewarding and something that helps me connect to God on another level.
Shelley: Creating art is a means of hanging out with God in a deeply personal way. Reflecting on artworks helps complete my picture of God in a way that reading books and hearing sermons rarely can—it’s a kind of communion. Painting brings things from the periphery to the forefront of my mind and allows the Holy Spirit to speak to me.
Nathan: Filmmaking helps me explore people and experiences in rich, new ways. It’s a medium through which to share joys, doubts and questions. Someone wise once told me I didn’t need to make Christian films—my faith will seep into whatever I make.
Josh Bolst and Anna Beaden.
How important is creativity and artistic expression in a Christian context?
Shelley: Creativity breathes God’s spirit into everyday situations, and it doesn’t have to be expressed artistically: it can be a problem-solving businessman or an encouraging teacher. Creativity is simply a way of thinking.
Nathan: The creative act of storytelling is powerful. It has the potential to say things that might otherwise come across as being preachy. I love the way Jesus often told abstract stories instead of giving black and white answers.
Sara: God created us to be creative. Expressing this creativity is a form of worship. It’s also an opportunity to be honest and vulnerable—like the way David wrote in the Psalms.
Josh: Creativity is a gift from God, and seeking to glorify Him with our talents is an important part of everyone’s Christian experience.
Anna: God gives us this gift to serve others, but no one gift is more useful or important than another. God wants each one of us to use our gifts for Him, no matter what they are.
Manifest Creative Arts Festival, March 20-23. <www.artsmanifest.info>.
Josh Dye is a public relations intern at Avondale College of Higher Education.