|EDEN PRAIRIE — Marianne McDonough believes that “when we tap into the creativity of God, we get to know Him some more.” That belief, along with her love for visual art and the arts in general, led her to develop Great Commission Artists (GCA), which put on its first exhibit in September.
The genesis for GCA was W.I.N.D. Ministries, which McDonough formed several years ago. W.I.N.D. is an acronym for Worshiping in New Dimensions. She formed W.I.N.D. because of her love for the creative arts, especially as it related to worship.
“I started that ministry because I had a vision for creative arts’ melding together in a unified movement of sorts and on various venues,” McDonough, who has a Master’s degree in journalism, said. “I just pictured the beauty of that, and I’ve experienced it in various conferences and so on. I’ve been in worship services where there are artists and painters and poets and the whole thing, and when we all get together and putting our gifts together, I think that’s an exciting way to worship God.”
Visual art and connection with others
GCA gives visual artists a chance to connect with other artists and find encouragement and inspiration. McDonough knew right away that she also wanted to make sure the group was open to artists at all levels.
“It’s important that it be also all levels,” she said. “So that people who are beginners—who wonder if they have a gift but they’re not really sure, they feel an inclination, they feel a drawing, they feel a calling, but they’re not too sure what to do with it—to nurture them and to encourage them and get them started as well.”
Artists—whether they are writers, painters, poets or dancers—oftentimes get the reputation of being loners, people who enjoy spending time by themselves and with their craft.
Yet McDonough believes that art can become better by staying connected with others.
“I think any kind of art there’s a lonely place for it,” she said. “But there’s strength in us working together and fellowshipping and encouraging one another. I think all of us, our art is going to be stronger and more effective and more applicable when we share our ideas and share our journeys with one another. We can have that healthy interchange, an exchange of inspiration and encouragement.”
Starting in 2013, GCA will offer members the chance to participate in four small groups, each designed to assist in networking and encouraging artists. The categories include a media-oriented group, ministry-oriented group, church service group and personal growth group. The GCA theme for next year is “Art and Relationships.”
Along the way, GCA has also sponsored several seminars. The first, titled “Art in the Beauty of Holiness” was followed by “The Artist’s Call,” “Banners” and “Waterfalls.” The seminars featured a variety of local artists who discussed their craft and inspiration.
For hundreds of years, the Church and art enjoyed a much more symbiotic relationship than perhaps what is experienced today. In the past, churches often displayed art, and many artists found their inspiration from the Church. For McDonough, however, art and the Church still go hand in hand.
“[Art] belongs in church because creativity is one of God’s most beautiful attributes, and artists reflect that,” she said. “And art is reflected throughout the Bible. [Art] expresses the beauty of God. However it’s expressed, however it’s displayed, [it] manifests His glory and draws people to Christ. There is a great purpose for art beyond just entertainment or enjoyment.”
However, McDonough wants to make sure they don’t become too focused on just displaying art in the Church; they also want to “display Christ in public places” in order to expose others to Him and also to bring Him glory.
In September, GCA held its first exhibit at the Hopkins Center for the Arts. Titled “The Psalms,” McDonough decided on that theme because “there is so much in the psalms” from which artists can draw for their work. Her only admonition to the artists was that they base their work on a specific verse, chapter or theme from the book.
“I knew that we had really struck it right when a woman came into the [exhibit] … she was walking around,” McDonough recalled. “She was just maybe a third of the way around. I welcomed her, and she was crying. [The woman said], ‘This is so beautiful.’ I said, ‘We did this for you.’”
The woman proceeded around the entire exhibit and had tears in her eyes throughout.
Providing a place where artists can network and encourage one another is ultimately what GCA hopes to accomplish—for the glory of God and for the spreading of His message.
ACTIONPOINT: For more information about GCA, visit www.greatcommissionartists.com. GCA will hold an open house on Saturday, Feb. 16 at The Depot Coffee House in Hopkins from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., where newcomers can find out more about GCA and register for small groups for 2013.