As far as the show as a whole goes, it was wonderful. Great art, glory to God, etc etc. But from my personal perspective, I'll be honest: I was a bit disappointed when I first looked back on it.
One of the things I love most about participating in this annual show is the opportunity to talk to the people who come to see the art. On Sunday mornings and on Meet the Artist Night, we as the artists stand by our paintings and discuss our inspiration, our process, and the challenges we encountered in completing our pieces. Hearing others' input on my paintings is a joy for me, especially since they often provide an outlook I never would have without speaking with them. This particular year, however, my painting was situated that there wasn't really a place for me to stand near it. I would have been smushed between artworks and would have felt as though I was on display as much as the artwork was! For this reason, I stood back from the artwork, and spent much more time simply observing the reactions of people rather than interacting with them. I'm a talker by nature, so quiet observation can be a challenge for me. So I was a little disappointed.
Most adults would casually walk up to peruse the art, spend the requisite amount of time reading the placard with the description of the piece and media, and then move on to the next display. However, most children I observed grabbed their parent's hand and dragged them to my painting to see the picture of the little boy. Children have a fascination with other children. I've seen it in my own kids when we read books, watch movies, or go to the playground. Kids connect with each other on a level that I think many adults have forgotten. Kids don't have walls built that prevent immediate connection, whereas many of us grown-ups have built fortresses around ourselves as we have aged.
I enjoyed watching the passion of these children as they ran up to the painting to look closer and ask their parents questions. And then it struck me: our Imago group is changing our church's culture. See, many of us raised in Protestant churches (especially Baptist, in my personal experience), didn't see art around the church as children. Sure there may have been a marketing poster for an upcoming sermon series or clip art with the projected song lyrics during worship, but no displays of art that really made you think, or that encouraged worship of God.
The presence of art in the church is still a foreign idea for many. But here's the thing, the first action God took in Genesis 1:1 was to create . He is our Creator God, and we are created in His image. It is in the very substance of our being to create, and He has blessed us with this drive to create, and yet as a group we have excluded this gift He has given us from the very place we built specifically to worship Him.
But now, after watching these children race up to the art over the past three weeks, I realize that this generation, my sons' generation, will no longer say that art wasn't present in the church. They will think about art, and ask questions inspired by the art, and through the process, I hope God will become a little more real to them. To be a part of that change is an honor.