Artistic inspiration can spring from many things, including very difficult questions.
The community art show, “What’s So Good About Good Friday?” explores that question for its yearly exhibition. The show is a collaboration between of the Art Circle of Bloomington-Normal and Second Presbyterian Church. Local and regional artists delve into their Christian faith and the events surrounding Good Friday to create works for the show, now in its 12th year.
The question at the center of it all came from a friend of Art Circle member Angel Ambrose.
“I had a friend who asked me, ‘Why do Christ followers think the cross is good? It was such a horrific event,’” Ambrose recalled. “And my answer to her was what partly birthed this entire thought process: for a Christ follower, it’s not the end of the story, it’s the beginning of a new story, it’s the beginning of a really good story, a story of redemption.”
The Art Circle partners with Second Presbyterian Church in downtown Bloomington to mount the show. The Rev. Treighton Haddon, the church's senior pastor, said the partnership with Art Circle is an important one to the church.
“Collaboration with the community, I feel, is really where the church is called," he said. "We’re not called to just be within these walls that we are surrounded by. We’re called to be outside of these walls, sharing the gospel message. And in this particular situation, we’re talking about what’s so good about Good Friday.
“What’s so good about it? It’s the fact that death wasn’t the end. It’s the fact that there is hope. You know, we live in a world that seems to be consumed by darkness and every corner, every place that we turn around, we see division. And resurrection -- that's the name of the game for us. That’s where we find out hope, where we find out inspiration. It’s where we know that what happens in this world is not the end, but that there is power, and that death does not call the shots. There is life.
“So, us teaming up with this group of artists gives us an opportunity to collaborate with the community. It gives us an opportunity to share that story, it gives them a platform with which to share it with believers.”
Art is an especially powerful communication medium, said Haddon.
“We can sit here and I can preach, we can sit here and read, we can take in all the different ways of learning information. But artists, they have a way of conveying a message and sharing a story that’s totally different. So, I think it’s really where the church needs to be,” he said.
“I think it’s a really great platform for us to work together.”
For many of the artists participating in the show, it’s a chance to express their spiritual drive through creativity in a kind of personal testimony, said Ambrose.
“I’ve seen artists who maybe didn’t even identify their gift as a gift from God," she said. "The lights turned on and they realized that God is a creator with a capitol ‘C’ and he gave us that gift of creativity, so we co-create with Him, we’re co-creators with a little ‘c.’”
As with so many arts organizations around the world, the pandemic has touched “What’s So Good About Good Friday?”
The organizers turned to technology to help mount the show and keep viewers safe. For the first time, the exhibition will be available on video that can be viewed in the Second Pres parking lot. Drivers through downtown Bloomington on Friday, April 2, will see the works of art displayed in a video loop on a huge screen outside the church.
Prefer to view it inside? No problem -- there will be video screens showing the compiled artwork beginning at 6:30 p.m. that day in two separate rooms, allowing for ease of social distancing. The outdoor video will run until 9 p.m.
Viewers should expect to see how the artists reacted to the pandemic in their work, said Haddon.
“People are going to be looking at it through a lens where they really want to find God in the pandemic. How do we see God in the pandemic? I’m interested to see how people are representing the power of God and the power of hope in the world during a time of pandemic.”
It’s not just the imagery the artists have to offer, said Amborse. It’s what the individual viewer takes from that image that creates a lasting impression -- beyond the pandemic and past Good Friday.
“We are such a visual society,” said Ambrose. “An image can stay with you for a very long time. The artist is creating something with a narrative in themselves, an expression in themselves, but when the viewer sees it, they can bring a whole new thing to it.”
“Visual imagery can make an impact on us in a way that sometimes words alone may not.”
“What’s So Good About Good Friday?” can be viewed on video screens in and outside of Second Presbyterian Church on Friday, April 2. The works also are on view on the Art Circle of Bloomington-Normal’s Facebook page.
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