Adventism and the Arts: Spirit in a Storefront Exhibit
By Debbonnaire Kovacs, Dec. 10, 2014 If you read your Adventist World, you saw a story in the October edition about “a group of creative-minded young Adventists in Britain” who “decided to showcase their faith in a shop window.” In Birmingham, the second-largest city in Great Britain, Daniel Blyden, member of the Aston-Newtown Community Church, learned that a friend had opened a shop with a window display in The Square Shopping Center and jumped at the chance to have an art exhibit.
Eight other Adventists (Chrissie Hewitt, Paul Jones, Chari White, Anson Carridice-Davids, Abigail Hazel, Mawuena Patten, Reuel Jones and Keiran Mckenzie) joined him, and they called the exhibit “The IQ: Innermost Questions.” The artwork was created around the Great Questions of life such as Why are we here? Where did we come from? What is the origin of morality?
Blyden said, “My whole aim with the IQ project was to make use of the creative skills we have in the church to bring the gospel outside of the church walls to the people.”
Speaking for myself, I was most struck by the words “bring the gospel outside”. It seems to me that we spend more time trying to bring people inside—which is not a bad thing! But those who don’t come may get left out, and some of those are artists and other hands-on, visual people who don’t respond as well to spoken word as they do to an experience.
I went looking for more about this project. One of the things I found was a blog called “Discovering Truth, with Keiran and Eraina McKenzie.” Keiran McKenzie had this to say about the exhibit:
“This week end just gone saw the marking of a well executed art exhibition directed by Daniel Blyden. I have to say it was very well done, and was pleasure to be part of the process that made it a success. What I enjoyed most, (and for those who know me personally, there will be no surprise here), it was the frequent exchanges of ‘self’, of ‘opinions’, and of the ‘Values’ of people from all walks of life, each sparking an opportunity to connect, engage and reason with them about morality.”
https://itstruth.co.uk/2014/06/22/innermost-questions-art-exhibition/ You can also go to this blog and click on a video clip of McKenzie and another musician playing and singing at the exhibit.
Blyden also has a statement on his own blog at https://www.danieljblyden.co.uk/portfolio/exhibition-curator-project-design/. Here, he stated:
“The IQ ‘Innermost Questions’ Project is an art project that commissions visual artists to explore the tough, often philosophical questions about life, existence and what it means to be human.”
There was also a news story about this event at https://adventist.org.uk/news/2014/2014-nec/creative-adventists-use-art-to-reach-others. They reported that the event:
“…proved highly effective in reaching people from all walks of life, resulting in follow-up Bible studies with atheists and Muslims alike…
[For example,] “On the invitation of a friend, art enthusiast and self-confessed atheist, Valerie, explored the exhibition unsure of what to expect. She began to question her own disposition towards disregarding rules and laws. This sparked a lengthy discussion with the team which challenged her thinking and resulted in her accepting the challenge to read the Bible with a different approach.”
Blyden says there will be follow-up (some has happened already) and he and I are now in touch via Facebook, so watch for more about this group of Christians who have dedicated the gifts God gave them to reaching out and building up the kingdom of heaven.
You can see pictures from the exhibit at all of the websites in this article. I also hope to have future art to feature in Poetry & Arts.