January 23, 2012

Mothering Art

Guest post from SPU student, Lara Musser, reflecting on her participation in a recent art installation on campus entitled, "Paradigm Shift," based on the gospel of Mark. Check out photos of the installation HERE!

What has been your interaction with the art installation in Martin Square? Have you spent time looking at it? Have noticed other people walking through it? Have you wondered about its meaning or had conversations about it?

One of my favorite parts of Mark’s gospel is the way Jesus’ arrival on the scene of 1st century Palestine affects every person who encounters him and affects them differently. The presence of Jesus Christ in Mark prompts many paradigm-shifting encounters. I love the way Jesus loves outsiders who sometimes have the most poignant things to say about him and that Mark’s account of Jesus feels chaotic but masterfully planned. For those who encounter Jesus in the Gospel of Mark, things are not what one would expect.

On the team that designed and built the installation, I am the only student who has never taken a formal art class. Art has a distinct way of intimidating me. Thus, it is understandable that I had a bit of a difficult time contributing to the artistic process. I avoided saying anything that might betray my artistic ignorance. Perhaps this is a feeling you resonate with—fearing that the meaning of the installation will be over your head. It is a feeling quite familiar in the Gospel of Mark.

From that intimidation, I focused my artistic experience on meaning. I now relate this experience to that of a parent. I helped create something that is from me but utterly independent from me. During the process, I wanted a clear concise meaning for the installation: a thesis statement to solve the question of meaning. But just as a mother prepares for the birth of her child with hopes and intentions for who that child will become, she cannot control every aspect of her child’s becoming. Instead of tight fisted control, she must open-handedly embrace the mystery of her child becoming independent. I, like the mother, am learning that what I labored over for weeks has become its own entity where meaning cannot be dictated by the hopes and intentions of the artists but rather, new meaning is discovered with each new encounter. Even as one of the artists the layers of unintended meaning I have discovered since the completion of the installation surprises me.

The process of creating Paradigm-Shift has provoked a paradigm-shift within me just as Christ caused paradigm shifts within many who encounter him. I hope that you would risk engaging Paradigm-Shift with the Gospel of Mark in hand so that you might physically experience the way something can prompt a paradigm-shift that reverberates Christ.

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