All throughout my life I have been hearing sermons, it seems, one after another, about finding your calling in life and serving God. It is said that we serve God through serving others. Of course, the question brought up in the sermon is how and whom do we serve.
We are particularly called to serve the “least of these”: the hungry, thirsty, homeless, naked, sick, and imprisoned. Everyone needs to be loved, but these are the people that need to be served. But how do we serve? That is where one’s unique calling comes in. A couple years ago I was still lost in terms of a direction in life, and I firmly believe that God called me to the arts for one reason or another. For the time being though, I feel that it should be to serve with my art.
Honestly I often forget about why I initially went into the arts. I seem to have this divine guidance turning me in the correct direction, which at the time seems perfectly clear, but then my own ambitions and pride start to lead me in a direction of my own. From time to time I remember why I am here at George Fox: to develop my skills as an artist, that is to serve God with my art.
As I mentioned, I often forget this aspect of why I create, so as I am saying this I can’t help but feel slightly hypocritical. I try to make my art economically accessible, and I like giving my work to friends and family. However, I have not yet served the people I am, that we are all, called to serve. Even this project is not really doing what I think I ought to be doing. Yes, it is a kind gesture to people who will hopefully really appreciate it, but I do not think this is the fulfillment of what I need be doing.
The Church I go to here in Newberg, Hillside Fellowship, has a house, Hillside Inn, meant to provide people in a time of transition with a place to rest, heal, and grow. I am not sure why, but I felt the need put art in the Inn. So I talked to our very own Catherine Ng about the idea and she thought it was seemed like a good idea. So a month or so later, I finally met with Catherine to get a tour of “the Inn.” I quickly realized the space was not as aesthetically neglected as I had the impression of it being. Meanwhile, in anticipation, I had been talking to some George Fox alumni, current students, and professors about the possibility of loaning art to the space. I was going to set up this six month cycle which new art would be put in every six months or so. It was going to be a sort of collaboration of artists to hopefully create a more beautiful space. But like I said, the space didn’t really need it. I was slightly disappointed. However, they did mention their inadequate set of mugs…
So I set out to make everyone in the Inn his or her own unique mug. Catherine and I talked that maybe the mugs could be a sort of Christmas gift to the people staying in the Inn. She also mentioned to me that this could work for my service project, because it was very similar to the project of Rachel Rudeen (she was actually a recipient of one of Rachel’s mugs). Naturally, this became my final project.
This is a video of me throwing some of the mugs for the project. While making the video I did not realize my leg was in the way, but I added a fun little filter that seemed to compliment and enhance the poorly executed video.
This project had a surprising amount of problems and worries associated with it. Some of my worries were questions like what kind of mug do I make them? Do I want them to all be the same? All different? Different but with “Hillside” written on them? I’m very much a believer that a mug in someway reflects a person’s character, so I decided to make them all different. This also forced me to make mugs that I would not normally make. At the same time though, reflecting on Grace and Necessity, this made me feel like I was sacrificing some of my artistic integrity in order to make work that hopefully someone would like and use. Lets be honest, most people are turned off by the idea of using a highly textured asymmetrical mug with a wavy rim. I also struggled with the idea about who was being glorified in this project. This could mean a few things, but I particularly didn’t want the project to become about the artist. Art tends to become much more about the person making it than it is about the work itself.
I am not quite sure about how this project will end, for the residents living at the Inn have not received the mugs yet. I actually want to distance myself from the actual giving of the mugs. In the larger picture though, I feel like this project has made me start to think about why I am studying art here at Fox. I am an artist because that is how I am to serve the Kingdom of God.