Rev. Gay Cox, Sanctuary’s Gallery Artist for June and July shared her time, her work and the inspiration of hands on art experiences with this year’s am2pm Youth Community Service Program. The intersection of the youth’s experience in service, Rev. Cox’s intentions with the Psalm project currently installed at Sanctuary and her inspiring gifts as a spiritual leader provided an amazing experience for all involved. Rev. Cox reflects…
We had decided to invite them to interact with the seven Psalms installed at Sanctuary with a time of studying and discovering – at the end of which each would decide on ONE word which their choice of Psalm conjured up in their reaction to it.
The diversity and richness of each response was exciting and challenging for me as the artist. I found it stimulating as well as reaffirming in my call to by-pass accepted or acceptable images. We asked each of the others in the room to guess which Psalm was being described in each word – in some cases the chosen Psalm was obvious; in other cases the Psalm chosen was a mystery! I was really happy to hear the response to the ethnicity in the Psalm 45 piece – as I had intentionally wanted to underscore the beauty of the queen in terms of sun-browned chocolate. Freeing us from our stereotypes has always been my personal goal whether creating images of Christ or everyday people in my art.
As I usually do in these kinds of interactions the youth were offered opportunities to respond in writing and images. Each was given a blank book into which they could write/draw/glue anything they chose – perhaps using their response to their choice of Psalm as a starting point. I have used blank books in my work with at-risk women, especially trafficked ones, to give them an opportunity to make their own mark and create their own beauty.
Allowing folk to create in sch a fashion is a small way to re-enforce their value as people, that everyone can become the fantastic person God intended from the beginning, if they are loved and accepted as they are. As I departed (before the young people were to leave to tackle their next service segment) they were all engrossed in doing this and I was aware that we had all been blessed by their willingness to interact and become vulnerable to we who were leading them and with their peers.
I treasure this opportunity and know it has and will continue to bear fruit in my life and work.
Thank you for the opportunity to be with Sanctuary and the am2pm youth!