imagine, create, share

imagine creation, create form, share in community

What I'm doing and why I'm doing it

Sagrada Familia sketch ©Jennifer Neal 2017

Sagrada Familia sketch ©Jennifer Neal 2017

The conditions are finally right for me to seriously pursue being an artist full time. So I’m going to start graduate classes this fall at Fuller Theological Seminary. Yes, Seminary. I figured the best way to launch my art career is by going to an institution that prepares people to work in churches that have largely shunned art for 500 years. I love a challenge.

I’ll be taking 6 graduate level courses for a Theology and the Arts certificate. Fuller started the program about 5 or 6 years ago and I have thought about it off and on for that long. I’m super excited to be moving forward professionally and gaining a deeper understanding of the interplay between art, theology, and culture. At this time I don’t think I would go for a full master’s degree, partly due to cost, and partly because I just don’t think it’s what I need.

My experience is that my art, in a worship context especially, creates a welcoming space in which people, some of whom I’ve never met before, want to share their heartfelt thoughts, feelings, and experiences with me when I am present as the artist. The art facilitates this dynamic back and forth exchange between people of giving and receiving, seeing and being seen, creating and discovering. Being able to create those spaces that encourage vulnerability and personal connections is what convinced me to pursue art from a place of ministry, in whatever way and wherever that might be possible. I think it’s possible and very much necessary in our society to create more ways for people to connect without having to justify their existence according to whatever rigid standards any given group requires. Good art is non reducible and expands people’s perceptions. People are good art.