Do you integrate art into your ministry with youth? I've always felt that the visual arts are given short shrift in ministry. When we do engage the visual arts, it is often as passive observers rather than creative participants. It ocurred to me recently that I've made a habit in recent years of engaging my youth in the process of art-making as a spiritual practice to engage our God-given creativity and explore our faith story. A few projects I've tried with good success:
1) Mosaic: I take an image/photo that relates to the theme or scripture to be considered. The image is divided into equal squares ("pixels") and each person is given a square and asked to reproduce just their square onto a larger scale, using whatever art medium they choose. The pieces are then all reassembled into a large scale artistic mosaic of the original image. The final image can be quite beautiful and represents the unique efforts of the whole community brought together. Check here to see how some folks turned their group photo into a mosiac work of art.
2) Mask-making: It never fails that when I suggest this project some of the adults involved are always dubious ("It's too messy! The youth won't want to do it!") and then the kids end up loving it. Youth create life-masks of their own faces using plaster bandage (available in most art/craft stores) and then decorate the masks to represent their personalities/spiritual gifts/hopes for the future, etc. The great thing about this project is that it requires teens to work in pairs, each building up the mask on the other's face. This project requires a lot of trust and care on the part of the person building the mask, so it is a great way to build community and develop intimacy within the group. Best of all, the finished products become part of the decor of the youth room. Here is a quick and simple description of the whole mask-making process.
3) Mural: Each year our youth develop a mural theme based on our biblical studies and then work together to paint a holistic work of art on the walls of the youth room. Last fall our focus was on "The Way of Christ" so they created images that represented peace, love, forgiveness, hospitality, and risk.
4) Personal Shrines: At camp this past summer, a group of the youth created mini-shrines centered around our theme of "Peace Talks." The shrines were an example of assemblage art-- three dimensional art made of found objects and images. Youth chose a shadow box or other container and created within it a 3-D "collage" of natural objects, words, photos, candles, fabric, etc, to create unique portable "sacred spaces" that spoke to their understanding of Christ's way of peace. These shrines were added to our worship space for the week so they could inspire the whole camp. Here are some examples of mini-shrines including some cool travelling shrines made out of old breath mint tins.
Now...I just have to come up with a good idea for this fall. Any suggestions out there?