Tuesday, September 1, 2015

A Christian conservative steps forward into the arts

By Ernest O. Disney-Britton

Would you be surprised to learn that a Christian conservative from Michigan created the world's largest art competition? If so, you might also be surprised to learn that last year's winner of that competition was an Islamic cube created by an artist born in Pakistan. The event is called ArtPrize (Sept. 23-Oct. 11, 2015), and attracts over 23,000 visitors each day to Grand Rapids, Michigan including yours truly---Greg and Ernest.
"Intersections" by Anila Quayyum Agha, the 2014 ArtPrize 1st place winner inside the Grand Rapids Art Museum
Rick DeVos, of the Amway family, created ArtPrize in 2009, and he is well known for believing in what things can be, and not just what they have always been. He's not an artist, but he doesn't need to understand or even agree with every aspect of the art fair's operations to believe in letting it soar. Instead, he trusts that the spirit of the idea, and the foundation laid will prevail. How do we develop that kind of faith?
"Crucifixion" by Mia Tavonatti, the 2011 ArtPrize 1st place winner ( Rex Larsen | The Grand Rapids Press )
That is the lesson of Galatians 4:1-7, where Paul urges us not to live locked in old ways of knowing like a slave. He urges us instead to realize that we are now children of God, and free of the old bonds yet still fueled by the same spirit. Believers of the ancient world followed rigid rules of the past, but Jesus's birth, death, and resurrection opened the door to new freedoms for those ready to step forward with faith.
"Open Water no.24" by Ran Ortner, the 2009 ArtPrize 1st place winner
This month, ArtPrize celebrates seven years of bringing a new light to the world through the fine arts. It's a movement begun by a Christian conservative with the faith to step into his promised light. Greg and I go annually to experience the results of this faith. It's an event where the city's congregations come together with museums, restaurants, banks, stores, and offices to showcase the nation's best in artistic talents. There's nothing else like it in the USA, and it started with faith.

Thought for today: Are you stuck living in the past, or do you have enough faith to create something new?