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Art as Prayer

lords_prayer_in_chinese.jpgThis weekend I had a revelation in church following our family trip to Hong Kong.  I have struggled for some time with trying to figure out what God wants me to do with my life, particularly my art.  I do not have the stomach for risk needed to be a full-time artist, and quite honestly, I don’t think that my family would be well-served if I attempted this.  With the present economy right now, many galleries are closing while others are seeing their worst sales in years at present.  I received a call from one of my friends who said that the gallery she is with has sales that have dropped 70% from last year.  No, that is not the road I am to travel at this time. 

I have always felt that one way to tell if my work is good is to be accepted, and sell, in a gallery.  While this is a good thing, I think too much of my own self-esteem is tied up in being a gallery artist.  But my heart, if I am honest with myself, is not completely in this arena.  I think God has something more in mind for me.

 So while in church this past Sunday, it struck me that what I found fulfilling recently was making the “Breath Prayer” series that I have been working on.  My Breath Prayer series is a number of small portraits of Chinese women, praying while holding symbolic objects or making prayerful gestures.  Each painting was created either for a person, or to pray about an idea or issue while I worked.  The results have been a series of paintings that have had the most prayerful quality that I have been able to muster in ages.  I love these small pieces.

Maybe my calling is to create visual prayers for people … and give them away – divorcing myself from the idea of being paid for my work.  Just making art for people whom I have a direct sense that God wants me to create for, to pray for while I work.  Giving these pieces to people afterwards and sharing with them what it is that God put on my heart while I worked on the piece for them.  Maybe this would be a way that I could serve God with my art.

 I always have said to people that if I could do one thing with my life it would be to help people sense the presence of God in their lives with my art.  Maybe this is the way.

 I am going to prayerfully go a little way down this road and see what happens, taking with me my Bible, my paintbrush, and my open heart.  I want to see what this journey will bring.