Worship and the Arts: 12 Questions for a Liturgical Artist

In the course I am teaching this fall, I have asked students to interview a liturgical artist. By this term, "liturgical artist," I simply mean an artist who has made, shown, or performed art in the context of corporate worship. I mean the same thing by the term "liturgical art." On this understanding, every church, no matter the tradition or denomination, has liturgical art, whether explicitly or implicitly, whether extravagantly or modestly. My hope is that this assignment will expose us as a class to a wide range of thinking on and practice in the arts in worship. My guess is that students will discover distinctive thought patterns, preferred vocabulary, key exemplars, and strong convictions in their conversations with artists. Here are the details to their assignment.

Details on Interview with Liturgical Artist assignment: 

Contact a liturgical artist of your choice. You are also free to interview a group of artists who have worked together in a liturgical context. It is preferable if you contact an artist who has created liturgical art frequently rather than only rarely. This way they’ll be able to offer you a range of perspective, rather than an idiosyncratic one.

(For the sake of common understanding, please let your interviewee know that the language of “liturgical art” is interchangeable with “art made in a corporate worship context.”)

The following is the basic information you should provide about the artist(s): 

1. Name.
2. City/town of residence.
3. Home church (if any).
4. Art medium (or media).
5. Church context(s) in which they have worked.

The following is a list of questions that I would like for you to ask them. You need not ask them all these questions, but do try to use as many of them as possible.

1. What are 1-2 things that have been most satisfying for you in making artwork for a liturgical context?

2. What are 1-2 things that have been most challenging for you in making artwork for a liturgical context?

3. How do you think about the difference between making/performing/showing your art in a worship context versus making/performing/showing your art outside of the context of worship?

4. How would you describe your role in making artwork for a corporate worship context?

5. How closely do you work with the pastor/priest/clergy in the art-making process? What are the challenges, and what do you enjoy, when collaborating with pastor(s) to create art for a given congregation?

6. To what extent is the artist responsible to offer people something that is both difficult and delightful, both familiar and foreign, both accessible and stretching, for that given congregation?

7. What does your medium of art offer uniquely to people in a worship context? Is there something distinctive that your medium of art is able to illumine or provoke or instruct or draw out from people in their experience of that art in worship?

8. What sort of education of the congregation needs to happen in order for people to be able to enter fully, fruitfully and faithfully into the experience of this liturgical art?

9. On what terms would you say that a work of liturgical art was excellent?

10. What is one thing that you would want to tell a room-full of pastors and worship leaders?

11. What is one thing that you would want to tell a room-full of artists who make/show/perform work in a liturgical context?

12. What's one way that you think artists can show love to congregations they are working with? What's one thing you wish congregations would do to show love when working with artists?


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