Wednesday, October 04, 2006

    Body of Christ

    My search for an artistic project to open our fall programming finally came together with a decision to make plaster casts of the students' hands, feet, and faces in order to create a sculpture representing their understanding of "the body of Christ." Working from texts in 1 Corinthians, we discussed how this metaphor could be a template for our community: many parts, each with their own unique gifts, but called to serve together as one.

    Students worked in pairs (in most cases, an older youth group member and a new younger student). In order to create a mold for the casting, each person had a partner cover their foot, hand, or face with plaster bandage. Once the bandage hardened, it was pulled off the body and filled with plaster. When the plaster had cured, the bandage was pulled away to reveal a cast of the body part. Students then decorated their casting as they saw fit. Some painted or drew on their creations, some wrote words related to our Bible study, and some just left them plain (see above two of the faces and the tip of a lone finger!).

    The following Sunday we held a closing worship service in which the youth each brought forth their casting as an offering and they worked together to put all the pieces together into one assembled sculpture. We then invited the students to reflect on how the sculpture, and the experience of making the castings represented our group and the idea of the "body of Christ." Youth noted that each piece was part of the whole, yet was unique and different. One student observed that we needed each other in order to make the molds for the castings, representing the way each part of the body needs the other parts. One student observed that some of the finished pieces in the sculpture were resting or sitting on other pieces, representing the way that we rely and lean on each other. It was even observed that one of the pieces was broken, noting that the "body of Christ" is sometimes broken, or at least never perfect.

    This was no fall kick-off skateboard rally, extreme paintball outing, or giant concert on the parking lot. Just a low-key, quiet, somewhat messy art project. I imagine some youth leaders might think such an activity would do little to stimulate interest at the start of the school year. Where is the flash, the excitement, the noise, the hyperactivity that youth seemingly crave? All I can say is that for our group this project helped set the tone for the fall. It helped youth understand that we were about something more than entertainment, something different than the popular culture, something deeper than the cult of individualism that permeates their daily lives.

    This project was another example of the way a creative process can serve to bring a group together around a shared goal, encourage community and cooperation and caring, and stimulate creative thought and reflection on the journey of faith and the way the Spirit moves amongst us.


    Randy Kuss said...