"All true art is incarnational."

-Madeline L'Engle, in Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art

About This Issue

For years the art editors of God's Friends have been asking for an issue dedicated to the visual arts. And now we've created one! This issue departs from our usual practice of having work by one or two artists that complements the issue's theme. It features no fewer than six artists, whose work ranges from landscape painting to collage, environmental installation to figure drawing. Not surprisingly, the written word is less prominent than usual-in fact, we considered the possibility of no text at all, presenting instead a "picture book" on the intersection of art and spirituality.

But we soon realized that, however eloquently the art spoke for itself, we also wanted to hear the artists speak about what they do and why. So we organized a forum or group interview (see page 4), which begins by asking each artist: what is the relationship of your spiritual life to your work as an artist? Did one grow out of or lead to the other? Is making art a part of your spiritual practice, or are the two one and the same? These folks have allowed themselves to be vulnerable, opening their hearts and minds to a conversation that challenged them to express their deepest selves in a different way than they are accustomed to. Each artist speaks of the spiritual foundation for his or her work with integrity and honesty. Some are Christian; others Buddhist or agnostic. Some find that their work is most informed by solitude; others by community, the Bible, the natural world, the figure, or the imagination. This conversation had to be excerpted for print to give the artworks room to breathe, but a more complete version appears on our website, www.godsfriends.org. There you'll also find links to the individual artists' websites, as well as intriguing side paths to the topic of art as incarnation.

We couldn't totally abandon written narrative, so these pages also include two articles by practicing artists. Paul Fromberg, director of youth and family ministry at St. Gregory's, writes about how painting opened up his prayer life, and about his move into the more "communal" medium of large-scale installation. And landscape artist Olivia Kuser, an emeritus art editor of God's Friends, shares her struggles when the work does not come easily, or at all, and finds saving grace in just seeing.

All these artists offer us gifts of imagery that engages our imaginations, our emotions, and our intellects in ways that words simply cannot. They present the notion of "radical hospitality," of the doors being flung open and an invitation extended to come inside and join the conversation about art and the sacred, creativity and inspiration. We welcome you to the table!

-Suzanne Fowler Palmer, Issue Editor

By the Word of the Lord Were the Heavens Made, 1980, by Sandra Bowden. Collagraph with embossing, 7.75" x 21".

Welcome, CIVA and ECVA

Two organizations were invaluable resources in putting this issue together. Christians in the Visual Arts (CIVA) exists to explore and nurture the relationship between the visual arts and Christianity, providing a variety of resources for its member artists as well as a supportive network. CIVA president Sandra Bowden is one of our contributing artists. We're also grateful to The Episcopal Church and Visual Arts (ECVA), whose chair Mel Ahlborn helped focus the issue. ECVA's mission is to encourage artists, individuals, congregations, and scholars to engage the visual arts in the life of the church. Readers can learn about these groups by visiting www.civa.org and www.ecva.org. Members of both organizations may be reading God's Friends for the first time; we hope to welcome you as subscribers.

Seven Last Words, 1990, by Sandra Bowden. Collagraph mixed media, 20" x 20".


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