In this episode of Theology for Life, Lynn and Ed talk with Leah Samuelson about community art—what it means and how it benefits the community and those participating. How are relationships built while doing art? Samuelson shares that when you work shoulder-to-shoulder and solve small problems together, the application to broader life is incredible. You accomplish something together that matters to those who participate, which is a stepping stone to deep friendships.
Why should Christians be engaged in community art? There are, according to Samuelson, certain things that you can do in art that you can’t otherwise that help you in relationships.
When did we lose our passion for the arts, and how do we get it back? Samuelson explains that we may never have truly lost our passion, but that it’s ebbed and flowed throughout the centuries.
How do the arts bring out the biblical texts? Visual arts mix the material and the spiritual. We look at the the stories in the Bible through new eyes when we look at what others have created.
Samuelson discusses the mosaic that was recently created for the lobby of the Billy Graham Center to help us understand the important role of art in our theology.
Leah Samuelson is Associate Lecturer of Art at Wheaton College. Trained in high-end commercial mural painting with a Chicago-based studio and also in poorer centers of urban areas with the Philadelphia-based arts-intervention and education group BuildaBridge, Samuelson now focuses on transformational pedagogy, socially engaged art curriculum development, and strategies of institutional collaboration through the arts. Projects currently in development use traditional byzantine mosaic techniques to engage powerful and well-served communities in explorations of restraint. Community art projects may involve political, economic, social, religious, and ecological spheres in grappling with what it means to be good to our neighbors and good to ourselves.
Dr. Lynn Cohick is professor of New Testament at Wheaton College.
Dr. Ed Stetzer holds the Billy Graham Distinguished Chair of Church, Mission, and Evangelism at Wheaton College, is executive director of the Billy Graham Center, and publishes church leadership resources through Mission Group.