Personal Altarpiece

Final altarpiece

The amazing thing about my degree at Fuller is the occasional option to work on creative projects in place of traditional academic papers. My Theology and Culture class was like this and I jumped at the chance to work on a painting piece.

My professor, John Drane, kept asking why the church is largely ignoring the alternate spiritual seekers (new age, crystals, Buddhist, etc) who are already in touch with a spiritual quest. The looming question about spirituality resonated with me, and made me look harder at what spirituality is, and the ways I incorporate it in my own life.

Candle sketch 4

He also brought up some interesting statistics. Did you know the candle industry is a 3 billion dollar industry? These aren’t just the emergency candles in the kitchen junk drawer! After I admitted to myself lighting candles is one of the ways I express my spirituality, I started to wonder about this strange mix of consumerism and spirituality. Drinking coffee with a good friend to experience community, or practicing yoga to find peace and centering with my entire body came to mind. These are both practices that are heavily marketed and available for consumption, yet help me live a Christian life.

Coffee Cup watercolor

I started to wonder what it would look like to paint each object as icons of my own spirituality in an altarpiece. My mind started racing, is this alright? Is this theologically sound? Is it heresy? Is it satire? Am I putting my junk on the altar before God to be cleansed/blessed? Probably a bit of all of these, but I needed to paint it and embark on the journey posing the question/making the statement as only art can.

When I didn’t get my project proposal back from my professor and the TA with “HEATHEN!” written across it, I figured I was ok. I could have piggybacked on the 168 film project using that for the assignment, but I really wanted to pick up a paintbrush.

It actually turned out to be a catalyst for an inter artistic struggle. Oof, and it was quite a struggle. Not only because it was hard to get back into the painting/fine arts mode after being in the world of film and academics, but the pressure I was putting on myself to crank out a solid piece of work. I had a few bad drafts which put me in a few funky moods, but thanks to the girls who live around me who listened to me vent about the plight of the christian artist (or the artist who happens to be christian) and encouraged me on, I was able to find peace and centering. This is not about me, duh.

Working on the iPod

So the next three nights, I stayed up till the wee hours of the morning painting away. It was a sweet time with a paintbrush, and I’m pretty happy with the final altar (considering I almost gave up on the whole project a few times). It’s not technically perfect, and if I did another draft, it’d probably get better. Yet due dates are due dates, and I turned it in. I’m curious to hear what people think and how they react to it. I’m pretty sure I’ll be submitting it to the gallery at Fuller for the Arts Fest week coming up in April to be part of that dialogue.

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7 Responses to “Personal Altarpiece”

  1. Ipp Says:

    I hope I can see the real-deal soon, it looks great! Oh, and about piggy-backing the 168 project, you’re just jealous you didn’t piggy-back first. But the film does air this Saturday (3.24) at the Alex Theater in Glendale, California. I’m glad you decided to pave your own path. The piece looks awesome!

  2. gladtobehere Says:

    Looks bueno! I hope you get a good grade on it (surely you will–there’s nothing to mispell)!

  3. Kristin Myers Says:

    Thanks guys! Yea, no piggy backing jealously here … though there is plenty to misspell in the project journal. After I had time to re-read it, I got a friend help me to clean up the grammar. I turned in a second version the Monday after it was due. Thankfully they took it!

  4. Caryn Weaver Says:

    Hey Kristin! So I haven’t caught up with you in a while and I’m sorry. I still check in to your blog/journal but that is a lazy route of friendship. I will attempt to write you a newsy e-mail at some point soon to make up for my slack, but for now hello!

    I love your painting. It is beautiful and expressive and simplistic. Way to go! I’m proud to say that I interned under you (even though it wasn’t for painting). 🙂

  5. evelynishere Says:

    In case you didn’t already know it – you’re a very talented artist! The painting caught my eye and then I read on, but it didn’t make sense. I thought – what in the world does coffee have to do with spirituality? And then I read some more and it made perfect sense.

    I do believe you’ll get a good grade! =)

  6. Jamie Fehr Says:

    Looks great, I really appreciate the write up.

  7. Kristin Myers Says:

    Thanks all, I’m realizing (in general) the explanation behind art can provide a powerful “ah ha” for viewers. While sometimes it’s best to let the art speak for itself… in this case, I think the background gives it an umph. Or maybe it’s just my overarching need to communicate clarity … I’m afraid my background in design has cemented itself in all realms!

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