CIVA Conference: June 16-19 in Los Angeles

You never know, but it always leads somewhere.
Even if I hadn't just agreed this morning to accept an invitation to join the CIVA board, I'd still be writing this entry. My first exposure to Christians In the Visual Arts occurred in the (very hot) summer of 2001. The location was the University of Dallas, a private Catholic college in, yes, you guessed, the concrete habitat of Dallas, Texas. I had only recently begun my full-time work at Hope Chapel and this was an opportunity to get in on the action due north.

Five Hope Chapelites made the three-hour trek up what my friend Jeff Fish lovingly calls "the minotaur," Interstate Highway 35: David Hernandez, Aubrey Klingler, Kim Garza, Katherine Brimberry and myself. Keynote speakers that year included Jeremy Begbie (my present supervisor) and Joel Sheesley. I saw Mako Fujimura from a distance. I heard Scott Cairns' poetry for the first time. And listening to conference musician, Charlie Peacock, became the seed of an idea for the 2003 HopeArts Festival. I believe this was also the year that the Trinity Arts Conference functioned as an official co-sponsor, so I would have met there the remarkable Dr. Jim Parker as well as the always elegant Kim Alexander.

Needless to say, it was a great experience.

For a newly minted "arts pastor," in fact, it was an intoxicating affair. I felt both like a kid at the grown-ups table and like an NFL scout--beholding up close "real" visual artists and simultaneously scouting their talent. It was at the UD conference that I met Anita Horton and Mary McCleary, future guest artists at Hope Chapel's arts festival. Not bad for a scouting trip.

"Serious art, serious faith"
Ten years later I've yet to wane in my appreciation for the work CIVA has done to support the endeavors of visual artists and to serve the needs of educational institutions, professional societies and the church. I've been asked to give attention to CIVA's relationship with the church and you could hardly bend my arm a millimeter to make me say yes.

(If you're a church leader of any sort or an artist who cares about your local congregation, I'd love to know what you sense as needs with respect to the visual arts and its place in your church.)

If you've seen their brochure material lately, you've noticed a new branding: Serious art, Serious faith. I couldn't agree more.

2011 Conference: "Art and Belief in a Digital Age"
According to the web description, the upcoming biennial conference will explore the ways in which "hard" and "soft" technologies enhance and challenge our understanding of art and belief. "This exploration will be framed by an examination of how matter and materiality shape our understanding of both art and faith. Following an arc built around the major acts of the biblical narrative, our keynote sessions explore three major themes:

1. Why Matter Matters: Technology and the Created Order
2. The Problem of Matter: Technology and the History of Art-Making
3. The Future of Matter: Technology, Art-Making, and Hope

One exciting development is the concerted effort to get artists under 30 at the conference. So if you're under thirty (or thereabouts, I imagine), check out the scholarship opportunities, which I believe might still be available.

As someone who spends a great deal of his time in the discipline of pneumatology, I'll be keen to hear what folks have to say at this conference about "matter and spirit."

Church, Art and the Wife
The conference organizers have tasked me with the responsibility to lead an "art and the church" track. It should be fun. I'll also be leading the worship service on Sunday morning, June 19, along the inimitable Brian Moss. That'll be a hat trick for us this year: together at Regent College, together at the Laity Lodge, and now this.

My wife is a visual artist and one from whom I learn a great deal about the craft. I look forward to serving on the CIVA board, knowing that she'll be my constant partner, advising me, challenging me, praying for me and continually reminding me of the kinds of things that visual artists perceive in the world.

I'm impressed with the quality of men and women who serve on CIVA's board and hope to assist the organization in its mission as much as possible in this season of life.

Here's to plunging into a tribe of artists who will teach me to see the world in a way that I've yet to see it.

(Image credits: At top, "Ethical Wash" by Emanuele Caccioatore; at middle, "Baptism" by Phylis Gillie Jaffe; at bottom, "Called" by Bruce Herman.)


Square Halo said…
2001 conference was my introduction to CIVA as well. Our paths certainly have crossed in many places, David! I'm looking forward to the Arts/Church track at this conference. See you next week!
Dianne, thanks for this note.

Now your "Square Halo" is not the same thing as "Square Halo Books," correct? Or do we have a nexus of Square Halos in the world?
Congratulations! CIVA is fortunate to have you on board. (little joke there...)
Thanks, Tamara. :)
I was blessed to learn about CIVA in the mid to late 90s, mainly on account of my mother's connection to one of the founders. Seems to me their work has been very important in tilling the soil, if you will, for other long overdue arts/faith related organizations and movements of the past decade.

Wish I could be at the conference, although I'm not under 30 anymore so I wouldn't help with any of their goals this year :-p
Paul, my guess is that one of these days we'll meet in person. I look forward to that day. In the meanwhile, you're doing a bang-up job over at the ole Aesthetic Elevator. Well done.
Meghan Hers said…
Thanks so much for posting this! The timing is perfect, as I'm on the West Coast for the summer, and am never this close to a CIVA conference (I live in Canada, so the travel costs are usually too high!) And thanks for the heads-up on the scholarships for under-30s a 22 year old curator and Christian, I emailed them and am keeping my fingers crossed!
Very glad to hear that. Hope to see you in LA then.

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