ART IN SERVICE OF THE SACRED by Catherine Kapikian
Evidence of this new renaissance can be found in the work of Catherine Kapikian
book, Art in Service of the Sacred.
In the foreword Kapikian writes, "This book encourages congregations to take seriously the role of visual art in worship and in the broader life of the church.
It proclaims the power of art when it is used as art (not merely backdrop or illustration), reclaims the presence of religious symbols in worship, asserts the importance of aesthetic dimensions of ecclesial space, and recovers the role of visual art to engage our sense and our imaginations as we seek to encounter the Holy One in our lives.
This is, of course, not an easy task-especially when one considers the divide that continues to exist between the artistic community and the religious community.
recognizes this divide and seeks to cross it by inviting artists into the church while at the same time inviting the church into the gallery.
Kapikian's depth of experience, both as an artist and as a theologian, is a gift to the church.
easily traverses between philosophical principles and pragmatic proposals, helping the reader to see not only why, but also how.
One of her
greatest strengths is the ability to place an artwork within its proper context.
does not promote a one-size-fits-all approach, but rather encourages churches to think critically about the specific context within which they are working. (Included with the purchase of the book is a DVD that contains some specific examples of work made within ecclesial contexts.) In my own work I have found Kapikian's thoughts on forming an arts committee and sponsoring artists-in-residence to be particularly helpful.
Chapel Reredos by Catherine Kapikian
West Market Street United Methodist Church
, Greensboro, NC.
This work was designed by Kapikian
and needlepointed by members of the congregation.
Kapikian is the founder and director emerita of the Henry Luce III Center for the Arts and Religion and currently holds the title of Distinguished Artist in Residence at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington DC.
engages in commissioned, ecclesial, site-specific works, most of which are grounded in what she
calls participatory aesthetics.