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Adventist Society for the Arts Seeks a Creative Cure with Art in the Age of COVID


In this interview with the editor of the new Adventist Society for the Arts, Rich DuBose, Bonnie Dwyer asks how this organization came to be and what it is doing to encourage Adventist creatives to share their gifts. 

Question: We’re excited to be featuring art and an artist from the Adventist Society for the Arts’ 2021 Show on our Spectrum cover. How many artists submitted work for this year’s show?

Rich DuBose: Thank you for the opportunity to talk about art and creativity within the context of faith and spirituality. This was the first art show/contest we’ve sponsored since the formation of the Adventist Society for the Arts (ASA). Over the last eight years we have conducted contests under the inSpire moniker, which I’ll say more about in a few moments. With this year’s event there were forty submissions by seventeen different artists/photographers. 

Red Cross I Art by Janell Brauer

This image appeared on the cover of the Spectrum journal, Volume 49, Issue 2, 2021.

Can you tell us about the various kinds of art that were submitted? 

Most of the submissions are paintings or photography. One piece came in as fabric art. We categorized them all as visual art and put them in the same show. 

There was a virtual show on May 16. Can it still be seen?

Yes. There is a section on the ASA website called “Galleries” where viewers can find links to a number of galleries, including the 2021 ASA Art Show.

What was the theme for this year’s contest? 

The COVID pandemic has disrupted our lives in so many ways, it seemed appropriate to call it, Creative Cure: Art in the Age of COVID.

You are the editor for the Adventist Society for the Arts. Please share a little about the history of the organization: When did it begin? How many artists are members? Are there other activities in addition to the annual art show? What is inSpire?

Adventist Society for the Arts is the next step of an evolving effort to affirm and engage Adventist creatives in sharing their gifts. We started about eight years ago with inSpire—which consisted of annual weekend gatherings at select churches where the entire Sabbath was focused on celebrating the gift of creative expression. We featured guest speakers, TEDtalk-like presentations, art, and music. These have been held twice in Berkeley, California, at the local Adventist church, then at the La Sierra University Church, Carmichael Adventist Church in Sacramento, and the Kaleo Adventist Church in Arcadia, California. We were scheduled to do one in Phoenix, Arizona in 2020, when COVID struck.

As director for Church Support Services for the Pacific Union Conference, my role is to find new ways to encourage Adventist members and churches to engage in mission. Our mission is to share hope in a hopeless age. Whatever we say better be good or it will be ignored. To reach today’s culture, the message must be compelling and enchanting (with great writing, art, drama, film, and music).

ASA is a virtual and real community that provides opportunities for Adventist creatives to share their ideas and creations in a collaborative way. Songwriting, drawing, painting, photography, sculpture, poetry, videography, and more can be used in powerful ways to convey stories of faith to our churches and surrounding communities. While the art is not always religious, we seek to reflect ideals that are enduring and spiritually engaging.

We need fresh music, art, photography, videography, and poetry to convey who God is. In a world of false messaging and alternative facts, people need to know that, as children of God, we are about treating each other with civility, compassion, and grace. With the arts, this can be conveyed in powerful ways.

There is no membership or fee with ASA. The way people join is by participating. We’ve decided not to formalize it, at this point.

We are focused on Adventist members because we want to be intentional about promoting the arts within our church. However, we are not opposed to connecting with other artists outside of the church. At one of our gatherings, we featured art by a young Catholic woman who has created a series of paintings that promote stewardship of the earth. 

The Society’s website includes material on art in Scripture; are there artists in the Bible?

Yes, it’s everywhere in Scripture. The record says, “In the beginning, God created.” Then He fashioned creatures in His image with limited, yet similar, capacities to create. We create because it is in our DNA. 

Creation week was a bonanza of divine creative expression. God, the Master artist, created hundreds and thousands of different species of animals, insects, and birds.

The first reference to art in Scripture is in Exodus 31, where God instructed Moses to create a tent for the ark of the covenant. Several artists are mentioned whom God had chosen to create “artistic designs” to beautify the tent. God says, “In the hearts of all who are skillful I have put skill.” 

What plans does the Society have for next year?

We take it one year at a time. Undoubtedly there will be more shows, and eventually some in-person opportunities to share art in church and community settings.

We‘re eager to connect with those who feel the need to create art and music that brings good to life! 

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This interview first appeared in the Spectrum journal, Volume 49, Issue 2, 2021. Learn more about the journal, read the current issue, and subscribe here.

Rich DuBose is is director of Church Support Services for the Pacific Union Conference and editor of the Adventist Society for the Arts. 
Bonnie Dwyer is the editor of Spectrum. 
Title Image: Love Sorrow and Joy, by Janell Brauer.
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