A church artist internship

In the fall of 2001 I began an artist internship program at Hope Chapel in Austin, Texas. Just this week a friend (Brie Tschoepe) asked me for information on what we had done and why. I realized I'd never posted anything on the program, so thought I should do so now. We ran the internship program (along with a kind of residency program) for five or six years. While it wasn't a perfect program, and while it wouldn't fit in all ecclesial contexts, I am glad we did it and I enjoyed getting to work with the artists that participated.

The Artist Internship at Hope Chapel

What it is

The art internship is a twelve-month program (September to September), which offers the artist an opportunity to serve the arts ministry at Hope Chapel as well as to explore his or her artistic calling.

The idea of the internship

The reasoning behind the art internship is twofold.  On the one hand, we want to provide a place for artists, whether amateur or professional, to ask basic but important questions such as:  Who am I as an artist?  What is my place in the church, in the world?  What kind of artist am I?  What is my potential?  What media are primary for me, which are secondary?  What are my strengths?  How do I integrate my art with my faith, my work, my relationships?  The internship is a season in which we will explore together answers to these questions.  On the other hand, the internship offers an opportunity for service to the arts ministry at Hope Chapel: to strengthen, to develop, to expand and to mature it.   The intern plays a critical role in the growth of the church’s ministry. 

Personal interest and service of the Church

At the outset of the internship, the intern determines in discussion with the Arts Pastor a course of personal study and work.  The goal of this exercise is to develop his or her artistic interests.  The intern is expected to draft a weekly and monthly schedule to keep them accountable to their goals.  In like manner, the intern decides with the Arts Pastor the most suitable course of service to the arts ministry. 


This can be worked one of two ways.  Either we provide room and board for the intern with a Hope Chapel family or the intern raises funds to match the equivalent of a monthly room and board.  With the latter we are happy to help the intern raise his or her support.  Funds should be pledged by no later than August 30, prior to the commencement of the internship.

Other Activities & Requirements


·       In the Fall, read My Name is Asher Lev and write a reflective essay in response.  In addition, read a book in the area of art and theology and write a reflective essay.
·       In the Spring, read a book of your choice in your field of interest and discuss with Arts Pastor.

  Writing projects

·       In addition to the above writing assignments, the intern is asked to write two more essays.  Over the course of the Spring, they are to write an essay with the provisional title, “In Defense of Non-Utilitarian Art.”  The purpose of this exercise is to encourage the intern to think about the nature of art: what it can and cannot do, what it ought or ought not to do, how context shapes our decisions about art-making, how both church and the culture at large influence our expectations about art.  The Arts Pastor will work with the intern to focus the assignment and to help make it as beneficial as possible to them.
·       At the conclusion of the internship, the intern is invited to write an essay reflecting on his or her experience throughout the year.

  The Art of Feasting

·       Once a month the intern will eat lunch with the other interns and residents along with the Arts Pastor.  This is done for the purposes of connecting as well as eating good food.
·       Once a month the intern will meet with the Arts Pastor (over coffee, tea or other beverage of choice) to touch base and to see how we’re doing.

  Participation in Community

·       Arts Council: the intern will be invited to sit on the monthly Arts Council meetings.  Included in this is participation in the bi-annual summer arts festival.
·       Prayer: the intern will join in the weekly prayer times on behalf of the artist community in Austin.
·       Community life: the intern commits to be engaged in some way with the artist community at Hope Chapel, developing intentional relationships, encouraging, supporting, and walking alongside others.  Beyond this, the internship affords an opportunity to get to know the Hope Chapel staff and in this way feel connected to the mission of the church.
·       Retreat: the interns and residents will begin the year with a retreat to acquaint, pray and play.  The intern will be encouraged to take periodic silent retreats during the year.  At the end of the year, the interns and residents along with the Arts Pastor will take a retreat to debrief and have fun.
·       End of the year presentation: we want to offer the intern an opportunity to give a final presentation of their work/year to the Arts Council and if desirable, to a larger group of people.

Practically now what:
Please submit an application with the following: 500 words identifying your artistic background (skills, experience, training), 500 words outlining your goals and expectations for the internships, and 500 words telling us anything else you’d like us to know about yourself.  


David Brazzeal said…
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