Thursday, February 4, 2016

Art As Public Collaboration

What is worship if not art? For me, worship is at its best when it is art.  Worship and art involve beauty, mystery, inspiration, revelation, challenge, collaboration, creativity, meaning-making, and impassioned purpose.

These thoughts were stimulated by a presentation I heard yesterday from Amy Franceschini, an artist and designer of Future Farmers.  I invite you to browse information about a course she is teaching at UW-Madison this semester to learn about her work, and then to visit FutureFarmers to see samples from the collaborative community projects this group creates.

Of particular interest to me is the Flatbread Society involving farmers, bakers, oven builders, artists, activists, soil scientists, and city officials, and the "Reverse Ark" project involving a collaboration with an environmental scientist, the Los Angeles Mayor's Office, the Department of Water, a priest, and a computer scientist.

The Flatbread Society Seed Journey is another project designed to transport ancient seeds found in Norway to Jordan, where they originated.  The "seed mast" pictured above is filled with ancient grains grown by members of the Flatbread Society in Oslo, Norway.

These projects, and the others listed at their website, are examples of a rich and deep multi-disciplinary approach to the art of shared living in an interconnected world.

As I listened to Amy's lecture in the context of an Art Colloquium, I was challenged to connect what I was seeing and hearing to "art." Such is the FutureFarmers method: to broaden perspectives through participatory projects, playfully, so "participants gain insight into deeper fields of inquiry-not only to imagine, but to participate in and initiate change in the places we live."

What I draw from this is a reminder that in church settings, beautiful worship that connects to a church's central mission and purpose will involve engaging the skills and gifts of a variety of people in a participatory and collaborative process that welcomes innovation and creativity, while nurturing spaces that open one another to inspiration and revelation.

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