FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS
 
I dare say that the year 2020 will remembered by most everyone as a time of significant challenge:  the COVID-19 pandemic and its continuing toll, soaring unemployment and financial crises, political paralysis and loss of faith in our elected leaders, civil unrest and heightened awareness of the need to address systemic racism, tangible experiences of the impacts of global climate change - the list goes on and on. If you have at times felt overwhelmed or discouraged, know that you are not alone.  
 
For much of the year, I've felt like I'd lost the "creative impulse" that is so much a part of who I am ... but in looking back, I've come to realize that this impulse has not so much been lost as redirected. These are some of the ways that's been happening:     
 
Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, I participated in an online study of the biblical Book of
LAMENTATIONS offered by the associate rector of our congregation. The study helped me give voice to my general feelings of loss and my particular grief in no longer being able to raise my voice in song within the context of worship. I was moved to combine scripture and hymns to create a collection of eight digital collages for printing onto brushed aluminum.    
 
Realizing that I needed an alternative "community" within which to raise my voice in song, I started creating hymn-text graphics that I posted to FACEBOOK, along with links to YouTube recordings of the hymns. The time I've spent in selecting [the 200-plus] hymns, developing the graphics, and searching for recordings to accompany them has helped to soothe that loss, and I've discovered that I'm not alone in my longing for the gift of faith-in-song. I invite you to send me a "friend request" if you'd like to join me in lifting your voice in song. 
 
Early in the PANDEMIC, I designed a series of large works, each measuring 24 inches wide by 72 inches high, for execution on disaster-relief blankets (used in prisons and immigration detention centers).  My intention was to machine-felt a variety of materials into the blankets to create a variety of effects but, by the time I'd completed the first two, I was so disheartened by the course of the pandemic that I suspended work on the series. At this point, I'm uncertain when/ whether I'll resume that work.    
 
PSALMS OF LAMENT is a collection of seven digital designs inspired by the seven Hebrew Psalms that Christians identify as "psalms of lament."  Created through digital manipulations of photographs in combination with the text of the psalms, each work is accompanied by a brief reflection that relates the psalm to my own experiences of this troubled time.  I don't yet have a clear vision for whether/how this work will emerge beyond the digital realm, but one possibility I'm exploring is a small, print-on-demand booklet that could be ordered online. 
 
BEYOND WORDS: The Art of Lament is the title of a proposal to Christians in the Visuals Arts, that I developed in collaboration withSara Nordling, for a traveling exhibition based on this theme. We've not yet learned whether our proposal will be embraced by the organization. 
  
PSALMS REVISITED, an exhibition featuring artwork by Indiana Black, Indigenous, and Persons of Color that interprets biblical psalms through the lens of personal experiences of systemic racism, is an effort that has fully engaged my energies in recent months.  Sponsored by our congregation's Dismantling Racism Team, the exhibition has been well-received, and we are feeling encouraged to plan additional exhibitions. We are especially pleased to have received a grant from The Episcopal Church in the U.S. that, among other things, will fund the purchase of one of the exhibited works, "In God's Hands" by Kevin James Wilson [shown at right].  
     
 
LOOKING AHEAD
   
I recently finalized an article for an upcoming issue of Worship and Music, the United Church of Christ [UCC] journal for clergy, organists, choir directors, and worship planners, titled "The Fire of Your Love ," the article introduces a collection of editable liturgical visuals to support worship on the Day of Pentecost.  I'm now working on similar visual collections for other seasonal liturgical use, to be made available through the Center for Church Music.  It's a joy to be able to create the resources and a delight to have congregations make use of them!   
 
   
EXHIBITION NEWS
 
Digraph // Reservoir
January 25 to April 3, 2020
3636 Texas Avenue
Saint Louis, MO 63118
 
Loss: A Virtual Exhibition
2150 S. Canalport Avenue
Chicago, IL 60608
 
Psalms Revisited
October 16-25, 2020
1402 West Main Street
Carmel, IN 46032  
 
The Art of Graphic Artists
November 4-28, 2020
1 Municipal Drive
Fishers, IN 46038
 
 
 A PRAYER FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS