Tag Archives: artists

The New Normal

Art TalkAs I was finishing up my notes for Saturday’s workshop, a new pope was announced. Many of my Catholic friends rejoiced on Facebook at his choice of Pope Francis I as his papal name, in honor of St. Francis of Assisi, who was known for his life of poverty, his love for creation, and his commitment to reconciliation and service. My friends shared their hopes that this name would both reflect and urge a new era for the Catholic church.

It made me think about just how much the values of simplicity and service are being called for in our society, in response to excesses and errors of the past. And sometimes simplicity involves greater sacrifice than excess, at least at first.

My other big passion in life – after Jesus and the arts – is sustainable farming. I know, that’s a weird one for a New Yorker. But I wasn’t always a New Yorker, and I probably won’t always be one; and there are plenty of us here with this passion anyway. My husband lives in fear that I’ll come home one day and announced that I’ve “bought the farm,” literally. Until then I plant my non-GMO tomato seeds in compostable paper cups in my Queens apartment, to eventually be planted in a small plot in a community garden.

I’m also a regular at the Union Square Greenmarket (a farmer’s market you’ve seen if you watch much Food Network). Although it’s pricier than a grocery store, I buy as much of my produce there as I can afford, because I believe in what those farmers are doing and I want to support them. I believe that my financial sacrifice will, in some small part, reap benefits for the environment, for society, and for my own heath. If enough people are able and willing to make those kinds of sacrifices, then the excesses of the past will be absorbed, and healthy, sustainable food production will become “the new normal.”

Not only do I sacrifice to help reverse my society’s excesses, but I also sacrifice to examine my own excesses. If I pay $4 for a single tomato, I eat it simply and observe it carefully. I don’t take it for granted, and I remember it then next time I’m tempted to pay the same $4 for a Big Mac, super-sized-fries, and jumbo Coke. I might be more engorged by the Extra Value Meal, but am I enriched by it?

I see something similar happening in the arts. We’re in the midst of a sea change in how the arts are being made and sold, and we don’t know yet what “the new normal” is going to look like. But it will definitely involve sacrifice, by many, to usher a new, more productive state into being. And I believe – very strongly – that the artists of the church have a lot to teach to the mainstream arts world about what sacrifice, service, and simplicity can look like.

The season of Lent is also about voluntary simplicity, in preparation to honor the sacrifice that took away the sins of the world. Would that all of our sacrifices had such power.

The arts world needs us right now. More than ever. And that’s exciting.

We’ll talk more about it Saturday.


What is arts entrepreneurship? And why do artists in the church need it?

The field of arts entrepreneurship is exploding right now, as a response to changes in technology and the arts economy in the last twenty years, and particularly in the last five years. We now live in a “do it yourself” world, where artists have many more tools at their disposal with which to advance their careers. At the same time, the traditional economic models for arts careers are drying up and changing. Chicken or egg? It’s hard to say. But the fact is that artists now have to take matters into their own hands if they want their creative work to get seen/heard/experienced, whether or not they’re seeking to earn a full-time living at it.

As artists of faith, we have access to supernatural power for our lives. Yet, at the same time, we live within “the law of gravity.” In nearly 20 years of working with artists in the church, I have yet to see anyone entirely levitate over the challenges and processes that are ingrained in way the arts work “in the world.” And, if our godly calling is to serve and renew those systems, it can only happen if we’re present within those systems.

So, two of the issues we’ll be looking at in the workshop, ““The Path Between: Entrepreneurship for Artists of the Church,” are:

  • The arts economy today, and how artists are responding to it
  • The artist of faith, and how we can serve the world
  • The meaning of entrepreneurship, and how we can embrace it to advance our creative work


I’m looking forward to sharing this information, and this time, with you!

Luann Jennings – Workshop Facilitator, Church & Art Network


Atlanta Arts Network is proud to offer an Artist Workshop on March 15-16.

Workshop Signup and more info can be found here!

[More topic previews to come, watch this space…]


Pastoring Artists Tip #2 Never Stop Learning

Tip #2 for Pastoring Artists: Never Stop Learning

All of us can get into a rut.  As a pastor, I sometimes find myself struggling to be creative.  I play the same worship music and I forget keep learning.  I forget to write and as I do I realize it feels dry.  As a pastor, my focus on discipling others sometimes keep me from growing as an artist as I focus on teaching and encouraging and forget to make time to create. If you have ever been in a dry spell, my encouragement to you is to Never Stop Learning!  Here are a few suggestions.

Don’t act like an expert ask questions instead.  I find people like to show you what they do and enjoy helping you learn about their particular artwork.

Discover art in unexpected places.  Look for creative people who may not create for their calling but as a hobby or avocation.  One friend is an architect but is also a visual artist and has lots of different artwork in his home. I would have never have known it.

Try something new yourself.  Try a form of art that is unlike what you enjoy.  Take a class in a community art center or local store.  Stretch yourself.

What are some of the ways you have kept learning? What ways do you like to stretch yourself?  Do you ever find yourself in a rut? What did you do to get out!