Date: August 10, 2022
To me, art is movement. It’s fleeting, it inspires a flow of emotion, ignites the sight with color and texture, brings forth lessons, remembrances, and perspective, and allows you to step into the moment before you.
The intention with chapel art is similar. The gospel and the feast day often inspire the theme of the art selected.
If you are planning the art for a service, remember that the connection doesn’t have to be literal. Finding a piece that speaks to you and allows the viewer to discover your intention throughout the worship on their own is powerful in its own right.
Are you wondering how images of a tree (for example) add to the sanctity of the service? They allow the viewer to see themselves — recall a memory with a loved one under the tree or a memory of home to someone miles and miles away. Or in the growth, they can see themselves — especially if they’re struggling to get through the day, week, or semester. Or maybe they just enjoy nature, so this vision brings them peace when they experience the service.
Abstractions are the same, and a benefit of abstract art is that it doesn’t exclude in its representation — so it adds to the unity of all in attendance.
The history of storytelling in the church began with the art in the chapel. Since most people were illiterate, the stained glass told the stories and explored the themes of the Bible, allowing access to all. People would gaze at the reliefs and stained glass and learn about the Bible. Isn’t this amazing?
One issue with stained glass is that — while beautiful — it often tells the story only from a European lens, when there are a multitude and range of skin tones and ethnicities in the world. So I encourage you to be mindful of what systems you embolden when you share art in chapel and your individual parishes. Take risks, be respectful of all at the services, and enjoy the beauty that you share in moments of worship with all in attendance.
Administrative Coordinator for Chapel and Student Life