Art as worship

by Jeanne Dittmann

Hallways transformed
Art hanging, illuminating
Spaces filled
Offerings given

For seven years, St. Matthew Lutheran Church has hosted Art as Worship: A Gallery Exhibition and Benefit, fulfilling our Fine Arts Ministry’s mission to worship our Creator God and foster creativity in our community.  We hope that you will join us this year in this artistic ministry event.

Each year, the committee selects a theme and invites artists – young and old, near and far, professionals and hobbyists – to respond to the theme through art.  This year’s theme is MYSTERY,  past themes have included RENEWAL, LIGHT, and REFLECTION.  The theme is posted along with application information on our blog early each year to give artists several months to consider the theme and make plans to create their response.  As the deadline approaches each fall, the committee eagerly anticipates the next stage in the annual event.

The bare walls of our church’s hallways go largely unnoticed through the year, as the unobtrusive gallery hanging system hides in plain sight when not in use.  The art curators – Jeanne Dittmann and DeAnna Toten Beard – gather the submitted pieces, admire the artistry in each, and set to work.  We plan out how to highlight each piece of art within the context of the larger exhibit. Then we hang, straighten, and illuminate each piece.  Artist statements and gallery information are posted alongside each work.  The food is set out and the lounge space is assembled.  The musicians arrive and prepare their own creative contribution.  And then we wait.

We wait for the doors to open and for our guests to enter into this transformed space.  Although the artwork will hang for several weeks, there is nothing like seeing it all together for the first time on that special gallery evening.  Our hallways fill with expectant congregants and friends and family and artists and worshippers.  People nibble on their hors d’oeuvres, sip their wine, and chat about the images and the meaning of what they are seeing.  Oftentimes there are new artists who have never before displayed their work in an exhibit.  We love to see their eager faces as they approach their own art in this setting, a moment when their personal sense of their own creativity is expanded.  And then they begin to look carefully at the other art, and other patrons take their places in front of that first piece of art.  And this process of viewing art, reading the artist’s words, examining the details, and moving to the next piece quickly fills the evening.

And while the artistic community is coming together around the art and enjoying the live music, we also ask that same community to reach beyond themselves.  We invite our visitors to bring canned goods or make a monetary donation to the Caritas Food for Families drive that brings the larger Waco community together each November.  In this way, art brings people together in a creative worshipful environment, and in response to that environment, we reach out to others in a gesture of love.

If you are interested in participating in this year’s Art as Worship exhibit, please visit our blog to fill out an application.  The exhibit is open to artists working in all media. Entries must be original artwork and must be consistent with the show theme. Each applicant may submit up to two works. Artwork must be framed with sturdy wire across the back for hanging. The St. Matthew Fine Arts Ministry reserves the right to reject work that is deemed inappropriate or which differs from the submitted image.  Works do not need to be explicitly Christian in nature.

There is no entry fee. Each artist may submit up to 2 works. 3D works are allowed with up to two images per entry (no more than 4 images total). All images must accompany the completed application information. The submission deadline is October 16, 2017.

The opening gala will be held on Saturday, November 4 from 6:30 – 9:00pm at St. Matthew Lutheran Church at 800 North New Road in Waco, Texas.  Please plan to join us for art, music, hors d’oeuvres, and fellowship.  The artwork will hang throughout the Thanksgiving, Advent, and Christmas seasons.  If you cannot attend the opening gala, the exhibit will be open on Sunday mornings and during the week if someone is in the office.  Please call the church office (254-772-9349) if you wish to come during the week.

Jeanne Dittmann is a calligrapher and graphic designer who has worked as a freelance artist in Waco for over 14 years.  She serves currently as President of the Waco Calligraphy Guild, and she teaches calligraphy through Baylor University Continuing Education.  Her day job is the Box Office and Marketing Manager for the Baylor University Theatre Jeanne and her family attend St. Matthew Lutheran Church, where she and DeAnna Toten Beard started the Fine Arts Ministry 8 years ago.  For more information, please contact her at [email protected]

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these Aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email [email protected] for more information.

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