ArtVentures: Somatic exhibits the journey of nine theologians that negotiate contextual issues through the spheres of art and theology. The results are a broad array of works that push the boundaries of expectation and imagination. Join us in Travis Auditorium at 7:00pm on May 18th, 2017, to celebrate and be challenged by presentations from Jeremy Hunt, Hyung-in Kim, Andrea Kraybill, Seth Little, Chris Lopez, Sarey Martin, Megan Moody, Juliana So, Brianna Wyatt.
The tools of Hunt’s trade are wood and wire, fingers and voice, and instruments run through tubes, circuitry, and speakers. The resulting sounds are rooted in discordance: loud, quiet, obnoxious, and discomforting. Inspiration springs from the hardcore bands like Tremont Hall, the experimental metal community of Hydra Head Records, the independent hip-hop of Doomtree, and bands like Melvins, Thrice, Stavesacre, The Jesus Lizard, Barkmarket, KEN mode, At The Drive-In, Cave In, and ISIS.
Music is Hunt’s medium, and noise rock his genre--a misfit offspring of punk, metal, rock, and hardcore. The ethos of noise rock is articulated in the literary writings of folks as disparate as Flannery O’Connor and Philip K. Dick. Like O’Connor once said, “You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you odd.” Noise rock is odd music for odd people.
At heart, Hunt is an observer, always trying to watch and learn, which is what led him to pursue the MAT program at Fuller. As he struggles to figure out the how and why of things, he undergoes a continual process of assembling and disassembling new ideas. It’s a process of give and take, ebb and flow, wherein the goal is to bring about a fresh understanding of old issues and new ways of framing theological discussions.
In this project, Hunt finds a deep connection to Qoheleth, the voice of Ecclesiastes. One of the meanings of the name Qoheleth is “the assembler” or “the collector.” Through his band, QOHELETH, Hunt is attempting (alongside band members Mike Strickler and Caiden Withey) to collect and assemble the experiences of a broken world into new expressions.
This project is the first release from QOHELETH, an album named God is the Warmest Place to Hide. Again taking inspiration from one of his favorite artists, the title is an homage to the tagline of John Carpenter’s The Thing--“Man is the warmest place to hide.” As Carpenter’s film explored the uncertainty of what it means to be a human overtaken by unknown forces, QOHELETH asks what happens to us when we use the uncertainty of our perceptions of God as justification for our darker actions.
Hyung-in Kim came to the U.S. to study art and education ten years ago. She creates art as a social practice with a two-fold purpose: to offer a safe space for meaningful and deep dialogue, and to help bring about positive and sustainable transformations in the life of others. Beyond solitary art making, she finds immense joy in working with people from all backgrounds and sharing her faith in art’s bridge-building power.
Hyung-in experienced a deep sense of alienation and a divided self-identity during her childhood due to migrations and the historical conflict between her two home countries of Japan and Korea. As a result, she has a heart for helping individuals/communities embrace their own particularities, while challenging their segregated mindsets. Hyung-in often invites people into the artmaking process so that they can take creative risks that lead to new learning experiences about themselves and others, and to inspire them to invite others into their spaces. She aims to make her creative works function as “art for life,” infusing life-giving beauty into our quotidian experience, and ultimately helping to turn people’s gazes toward the Creator of beauty.
Remem-bearing as Refugees, a community art project, explores themes of reconciliation, especially as it relates to racial justice and immigrant families from various ethnicities throughout the U.S. and beyond. Through an exploration of the "refugee" identity--separation from where one truly belongs--Hyung-in incorporates a pedagogical approach to visual art and theological studies to inspire participants towards personal meaning-making, and also to brainstorm creative problem-solving regarding pressing issues in society. By holding art workshops designed for both youth and adults, Hyung-in hopes to raise awareness about cultural diversity and empathy, and further expose her attendants to the power of vulnerability, which helps build altruism.
The end product of the installation piece is a collection of braids created with fabric discarded by businesses in L.A. fashion districts. Participants from Fuller communities, the organization ReconciliAsian, commemorating the 25th anniversary of the L.A. riots, and others contributed with the creation of braids adding to the collective. The braid--a motif we can find in various cultures--symbolizes the intertwinement/entanglement of differing aspects in our lives that we often consider separate, but which ultimately creates a unified whole.
Andrea Kraybill is a multi-media artist living in the Los Angeles area since 2014. Although originally calling Indiana home for the most part, she now considers herself more a global citizen. She’s spent significant periods of time living in the U.K., Argentina, and most recently Nicaragua, where she volunteered at a cultural center for two years. Her wanderlust and interest in other cultures are formative to her faith and work.
Andrea enjoys exploring a range of visual mediums—including watercolor, drawing, enamel, and silk painting. Currently, she is experimenting with building sculptural watercolor paintings. She has exhibited silk paintings on Fuller’s campus, and has participated in various group exhibitions in Los Angeles. Andrea currently serves as the Visual Faith intern with the Brehm Center for Worship, Theology and the Arts, and will complete her MDiv this summer. Andrea intends to keep honing and expanding her artistic practice following graduation. She plans on taking full advantage of the good weather, tacos, salsa dancing, and delightful community that she has found here in Los Angeles.
Andrea is drawn to investigating common threads that connect people across divides of culture, religion, language and geography. She asks, as Christians, how do we understand what it means to be the body of Christ? Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke of the notion of the “Beloved Community” as a metaphor for global sisterhood and brotherhood among all people. Along these lines, Andrea explores such sacred connectedness through watercolor, paper, and thread. Borrowing from the qualities of textiles—whose warp and woof conveys strength and flexibility—she carries these characteristics over to paper as a way to mediate the spiritual through the material.
For her thesis project, Andrea looked to create a space to symbolically convey interconnectedness amidst a fragmented world. To achieve this, she utilized her watercolor paintings, cutting them into small strips and then reconstructed them into a larger whole using thread and glue. In a church bell-tower entryway in Hollywood, she installed an undulating curtain of these sewn watercolors and positioned them to hover overhead. The installation’s colors, form, and placement echo themes of water, baptism, and Exodus images, while its binding construction points to the Incarnation. Passersby and worshippers are invited by the artwork into a meditative space of renewal.
Seth Little grew up in Georgia, the son of music teachers. After studying music production and guitar in college, he became involved in Christian ministry. Several years on staff with a small Boston church gave him a deep sense of calling to serve others and to promote a faith that helps make sense of life in contemporary post-Christian contexts. Recognizing his need for education, Seth came to Fuller in the winter of 2014 to pursue a vision for integrated ministry. A year into his program, Seth decided to specifically connect his background in music to theological studies and declared an emphasis under Fuller’s Brehm Center for Worship, Theology and the Arts.
Seth currently works for Epicentre Church, a multiethnic congregation in Pasadena with Chinese American roots, where he is Director of Production. Seth is married to Emily, an educator and all-star mom, and they have three young kiddos: Lydia, Thaddaeus, and Gus. Their family will move to New York City this summer where Seth will take up the position of Director of Worship Arts at All Angels’ Church on the Upper West Side.
Seth’s pastoral work is focused on human flourishing, to the benefit of the entire cosmos. His conviction is that flourishing becomes possible through the classic virtues of kindness, humility, and hospitality, which lead to unity. Working primarily in music, Seth finds this medium lends itself to both collaboration and surprise, because a musical piece may include a plurality of voices without sacrificing its integrity as a single unified work. Likewise, live music performance is usually a unified team effort. Seth embraces these qualities as fundamentally consonant with the themes he explores in his art.
For his thesis project, Seth is creating an Artists’ Ministry at Epicentre Church. To launch this ministry he organized an event called Image Sounds in which several musicians were invited to share some signature pieces along with a commissioned composition in response to Genesis 1:26: “Then God said, ‘Let us make humankind in our image.’” These musicians were also asked to collaborate before a live audience to create a second scriptural-response piece. The event was an exploration of the Judeo-Christian affirmation that all humanity bears the Imago Dei, the Image of God.
Chris Lopez is a graphic novel writer, a critic for Fuller’s film initiative, Reel Spirituality, and a theologian of popular culture. Along with feature articles on comic book adaptations written for Reel Spirituality, Chris is also contributing chapters about superhero comic book stories and their formative role in society for the forthcoming books: Television: Streaming Life’s Deep Questions (published by DoxaNoûs Media) and And the Fullness Thereof: Popular Culture and Ethics in an Age of Globalization (publisher TBA). It’s not surprising that professors, students, and Pasadena locals have come to call Chris the scholar-in-residence of comics and film.
Along with pursuing a doctorate in Cinema Studies, after Fuller, Chris desires to venture into filmmaking. His dream is to write/produce films that metaphorically and literally explore the contentious relations between the U.S. and his home island of Puerto Rico. He also hopes to play a producing role in future comic book adaptations. He would especially like to thank his wife Carly for the constant support and inspiration she brings him by just being herself. He would like to thank his mother, Annette Miller Rodriguez, for always keeping an open mind and hospitable spirit towards Chris’ circuitous vocational journey.
An Origin Story is a short documentary, written and produced by Chris and Carly Lopez, which captures the power of popular culture and the transformative role superhero comic books played in Chris’ childhood years. In particular, they sustained him during his parents’ divorce and established an irrevocable connection with his father, Frank Lopez. The documentary also explores how these stories planted in him a desire to be a story-teller; a seed which has begun to grow in the flourishing soil of his artistic and spiritual communities. After ArtVentures, Chris plans to further develop this film to include the way superhero comic book stories have shaped the lives of other people in his community. Once finished, he will submit the film to the International Comic-Con Independent film festival.
Chris hopes that An Origin Story will help viewers experience the meaningfulness of these stories on an emotional level and will encourage them to revisit their own stories as a way to authentically understand themselves and their vocation in the world. It has been difficult for Chris to admit that there is anything worth sharing about his own story, but producing An Origin Story convinced him otherwise. He hopes that by sharing this process of discovery, the result will encourage viewers to find the the value in their own stories as well.
Sarey Martin was born and bred in Torrance, CA. She got her B.A. from Concordia University in Humanities and Fine Arts. Beginning in 2003, she spent over a decade working in the entertainment industry, primarily managing rock bands and producing horror films. In 2016, she stepped away from that career to attend seminary and forge a new path developing her own film and literary projects (including a short film she produced called Tortoise.) Currently, she is earning her Masters of Arts in Theology (MAT) at Fuller with an emphasis in Theology and the Arts. Sarey is also part of a church-planting team at Missio Dei L.A. (missiodeila.com), a new congregation in the neighborhood of Silver Lake. You can read more from Sarey at her blog, www.sarey.biz.
Certain Parts is a literary zine envisioned as an exercise in mining personal experiences culled from tragedy and trauma, and with hopes of creating healing camaraderie amongst its readers. Domestic settings and intimate experiences are dissected as a means to fashion authentic narratives relating how broken love affects a sense of identity. Allusions to “certain parts” of the human anatomy are thematic throughout as symbols of intimacy seen through familial and romantic love. It also denotes certain parts of life stories where hopelessness and isolation converge. Certain Parts asks where God is in relation to that lonely intersection, and what it looks like for a human being to be recreated after great suffering.
As a work of artistic lament, the project also carries an implicit request that followers of Jesus be willing to acknowledge the painful tensions found in human experiences (both in general, and in art.) The writer of Ecclesiastes says, “Perfectly pointless... Everything is pointless,” (Ecc. 1:2) yet he also notes that we instinctively seek out meaning (Ecc. 1:13.) The Bible, on many occasions, gives Christians permission to acknowledge this absurd tension in order to empathize with corresponding emotions. But “Christian art” has too often been the victim of an over-realized eschatology, where the human condition and any semblance of angst is minimized or erased in light of a future glory. We should affirm future glory, but first lament the present’s pain. In doing so, we become better stewards of culture.
Megan Moody is currently pursuing a Master of Arts in Theology (MAT) with an emphasis in Theology and the Arts. She was born and raised in Massillon, Ohio and moved to Nashville, Tennessee where she attended Belmont University. She studied Vocal Performance and Religion and the Arts, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts. In 2015, Megan moved to Pasadena, California, to pursue her MAT and will graduate in the Summer of 2017. She is also a member of the Fuller Chapel team.
Megan’s identity is characterized by expressions of worship and art-making in both sacred and secular spaces; these practices, both communal and individual, continue to be a defining force in her journey. Through her work as a student, worship leader, theologian, and budding songwriter, she continues to be formed and transformed. She hopes to pursue further education so that she might someday teach young adults about the transformative power she’s discovered at the intersections of God, art, church, beauty, culture, and human experience.
Holy Is She began as a series of questions: How is the imago Dei embodied? What forms of embodiment have often been neglected as humanity seeks to know God, neighbor, and self? How might we draw upon these overlooked experiences in a new, accessible way?
Reflecting upon both secular and sacred music and culture, the artist resolved to explore embodiment of the imago Dei from the feminine perspective, which has informed and shaped her understanding and knowledge of God throughout her spiritual journey. Too often the feminine perspective is avoided, neglected, or dismissed by the church, which deems it too “earthy” or “sensual.” No longer satisfied with these shallow, stagnant waters of which we are often told to drink, the artist is seeking to reclaim this knowledge, and to tap into a well of theological and anthropological understanding that is infinitely deep and filled with living water.
Holy Is She draws upon experiences of womanhood, God-as-She, lament, depression, unbelief, and wholeness. In this way, Holy Is She not only invites its listeners into a feminine understanding of God, but also reveals the unity of humanity by evoking empathy through relatable struggles. The artist’s hope is that her audience will feel invited into this exploration through the power of music to quicken the imagination, awaken the senses, and broaden the mind through melody, lyric, instrumentation, and performance.
Juliana Sau-Man So was born and raised in Hong Kong. After becoming a Christian, Juliana shifted her ambition from being a chemist to a worship leader. In the past 13 years, Juliana has dedicated herself to serving churches and communicating the Gospel as a worship leader and musical artist. In 2014, Juliana moved to Pasadena to pursue her MDiv, with emphasis in Worship, Theology and Art, at Fuller Theological Seminary.
Having been raised in a cosmopolitan city, Juliana feels grateful to bring in multicultural factors to her music, which serve as a bridge, connecting her with the world and other people to God. Juliana seeks to present her music for audiences to encounter God in fresh ways. One way she does this is by arranging traditional hymns to Jazz, Canto-pop, R&B and Gospel genres, and by integrating lyrics in Cantonese, Mandarin, and English. These have been her favorite types of worship projects. Juliana believes that diverse worship experiences like these anticipate the “all nations” worship in the kingdom of heaven.
Juliana is also a songwriter. The themes of her compositions include Christian worship, God’s story, and human life experience. Until now, most of her songs have been gifts to her friends or personal works for herself. Recently, she is seeking to share her songs with more folks in the public.
Juliana’s Music Channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/chssmjuliana
The Voices of Minor Poets & 來自詩人的微聲
This masters thesis is a music-media collaborative project intent on communicating the Gospel. Juliana calls and encourages Asian Christian artists in the community to boldly share their spiritual voices with others in the world. Juliana believes Christian artists are to be spiritual poets, who can offer their artistic gifts to reveal truth and manifest the beauty of God’s creation. She hopes this collaborative project will become a life-giving experience in this collaborative community.
This project is based on three compositions written by Juliana: “Pain” (痛), “Our Resurrected King, You Are with Us Forever” (我們的復活主:你一直都在) and “Love Is…Loving You for Who You Are” (愛是…….偏偏愛你). These songs are the fruits of her prayers, spiritual experiences, her study of the Scriptures and theology, and by the Holy Spirit’s inspiration. Juliana hopes these songs will create a space for her audiences to lament their sufferings, and to find rest in God’s presence.
Brianna Wyatt hails from the somewhat small town of Newark, Ohio. She attended college at Taylor University where she earned a B.S. in Professional Writing with a minor in Music, and was extensively involved in theatre. After graduating, she interned in worship design at Ginghamsburg United Methodist Church. Brianna exchanged corn fields for palm trees in 2015 when she moved to Pasadena to pursue her studies at Fuller. Currently, she is earning her M.A. in Theology with an emphasis in Theology and the Arts. Brianna is also a liturgist on the All-Seminary Chapel team, a leader of the Brehm Collective, and is a member of the Fujimura Fellowship. Her education in theatre, music, writing, and theology taught her how to craft stories that inspire imagination and foster connectivity. After her time at Fuller, she hopes to continue bringing art and theology into conversation through theatre and writing for the stage.
Illumine Playback Theatre: A Journey of Prayer and Play
What is the common thread between each person in the world? There are many ways to answer this question. This artist’s answer is story. From the moment we entered life on earth, we began shaping and being shaped by story.
Brianna’s thesis project takes an exploratory route through the sacred space of the theatre—a space of imagination and play in which each person involved plays a crucial role. The influences of the artist's work in theatre and liturgy formed the catalyst for this project. Both theatre and liturgy require the communal participation of the audience and players; they each offer a space where personal experience melds with written word, and physical bodies illuminate the invisible texts of our lives.
To this effect, lllumine Playback Theatre uses elements of ritual, imagination, and play to foster communal storytelling. This is an invitation to enter into a physical prayer of Examen that engages not only our reason, but also our memories, bodies, and hearts. Playback Theatre is simple but honest. It works with what is. Jesus’ storytelling was not far from it: mud and spit, mustard seeds and branches, bread and wine. In both parable and Playback, the commonplace is the story-vessel that gives light to our God-breathed humanity. By watching the day-to-day stories of the people sitting next to us, perhaps we will begin to discover that our lives are really not that far from theirs.