Geraldine, from the nearby housing project, showed up. So did the guy from the local food market. Others from the community also came by to see the final creation.
It was Reclamation, the end-of-project showing from Cru Transform Arts. Fourteen college students from around the country had been in New York for several weeks. They had honed their artistic skills as they collaborated on works of film, dance/drama, music and visual arts.
They had also sought to be a blessing to their community.
“This project completely revolutionized my understanding of how my faith and my art fit together,” enthused Lindsey, a visual artist and woodworker from Tennessee.
In partnership with two other students, she had constructed a representation of the New Jerusalem, God’s reclamation of the world. The young man from the food market, an avowed unbeliever, spent a long time alone in the New Jerusalem piece. When he came out, he said he felt transported, that he was small but somehow significant.
He and several of the students are now keeping connected via Facebook.
The largest piece in the exhibit represented the progression of beauty: the highly sexualized version the world seems to value, the broken pieces of self image when we don’t measure up, and the reclaimed beauty of a person redeemed by God.
Durell, a dancer from east Texas, saw over and over how art connects with the soul. “God and art are intended to be put together,” he said. Durell was part of a dramatic performance, New Heart, and one observer reflected, “That’s my story; that’s my life.”
During their weeks in New York, the students also interacted with people in the community using Soularium (spiritual conversation cards). They found New Yorkers willing to engage in personal discussions – one lasted an hour and a half!
Art can have a powerful influence on culture. These students are armed with fresh passion to bring their art and their faith together as they return to their home communities.