Celebrating Christians in the Visual Arts

by Nicole Chin '08 & Greg Pereria '06

It has been said that art serves as a reflection of culture, and at the same time culture reflects art. For centuries, art has served as a tool that makes reference to our changing world and the individual changes a person undergoes. At the center of this expression, Christianity has not only been given the freedom to express, but also to speak to those who are in the dark.

On June 15-18, APU's Department of Art hosted the CIVA Silver Biennial Conference, marking the 25th anniversary of CIVA (Christians in the Visual Arts). Hundreds of artists from across the United States and the world attended to learn and share with one another in more than 50 different workshops and installations. The workshops offered a unique opportunity for artists to expand their knowledge of color, technique, and application, as well as gain perspective on faith as portrayed in art. Between workshops, attendees viewed more than 15 installations on campus, several created by APU art students.

“I really wanted to show my peers that expressions of Christ and his love for us go beyond the realm of a ceramic cross or a painting of the crucifixion,” said installation presenter and APU student Malachi Ward '06. “It is amazing how strong of a statement Christians can make by presenting something that people can relate to, or even get a laugh out of.”

In addition, notable plenary speakers were on hand, including Father Richard Vosko, designer of Our Lady of Angels Cathedral in Los Angeles; and Daniel Siedell, curator modern and contemporary art exhibitions at the Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery in Licoln, Nebraska.

The CIVA Conference aspires “to explore and nurture the relationship between the visual arts and the Christian faith” as Christian visual artists are encouraged to live out their faith in their work and not just through Christian symbols. The connection between visual art and the Christian faith is often hard to see, but Rebecca Roe, MFA, APU art professor, believes that art should be where someone can express him or herself as an artist and at the same time be a testimony of their faith.

With this belief in mind, APU has ratified a new Master of Fine Arts degree, beginning summer 2006. Through this 60 unit program, “artists of exceptional caliber explore their limits in the midst of critical dialogue of faith and art.” Learning centers around the artist's own studio activity and the integration of faith and art. It strives to help develop a student’s thinking so he or she can function as a professional Christian artist.

For more information on APU’s new MFA Program, visit www.apu.edu/explore/mfa or call (626) 815-6000, Ext. 3726.