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June 2001: Art and Religion Seminar
United Seminary of the Twin Cities, Minneapolis/St. Paul

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Nancy Chinn: Artist in Residence

Nancy completed a series of paintings based on a version of the Lord's prayer, and spent much time talking with individuals and groups about their ideas and concerns around the topic of art and religion.
She also taught a few folks how to build a labyrinth with their parishes.

Nancy's Class: "Creating Visual Choirs"

Exercises to facilitate moving from scripture text to image:
One important piece of designing from scripture to image is to explore what ideas the community might have. Tearing construction paper and forming it to correspond to a phrase or word from the text allows the imagination to discover relationships and ideas through shapes, color, and form.
People are encouraged to work intuitively through a series of questions that can lead them directly into exploration that is not based in words, but image...
and are encouraged to keep tearing, placing and looking until they are satisfied and feel the image is "right".
Only then do we glue it all down.
The scripture text is read slowly and each piece of work is placed consecutively. When the reading and placing is complete, the work reads as a visual scroll of sketches corresponding to the scripture reading.
In another exercise, a simple line drawing is cut into pieces, and the pieces are numbered on the back. Participants are given one piece each. The instructions are to draw pattern into the piece, but on arriving at the pre-drawn line, change color and pattern. The work is taped together as folks finish.....
and we turn it over to reveal a lively composition that worked because the intitial drawing held the form and formed the basis of the composition.
Using one of her paintings, Nancy showed the folks that the work of the artist is to create versions of the original idea. People also saw the original sketch for the painting, which was a sculpture made previously by the artist.
We discussed how to use sketches to create models to generate new ideas.
In small groups, we tried to work with the sketches we had and a common theme, to develop it more clearly. People were encouraged to use the seven principles of design outlined in Spaces for Spirit to help them clarify ideas.



A key element of the class was a progressive exercise in studying symbols.



Another successful exercise was learning how to cut paper lace for large banner design.
The week ended with summarization and clarification of solutions to questions not yet answered. A fine week was had by all of us, and we look forward to staying in touch via email to share our accomplishments and ask each other questions for resource development. Thanks for coming, one and all!
Click here to see the list of resources asembled by class members.