Art, Culture and the Bible
ADM Creative Fellow, Jo Chew, shares about her Fellowship journey so far, and the experience of her recent art exhibition, titled ‘Numbering Stars’.
Being a Creative Fellow for ADM has been an incredible opportunity. It was almost unbelievable that as an artist I might have the chance to be freed up from other paid work to pursue more thoroughly and thoughtfully the creative processes of developing and making paintings for a whole year! It’s also given me the time and quiet space at ADM’s offices to delve into a swathe of books, essays and articles on art and the life of faith. Sharing the space with the other Fellows has been wonderfully inspiring and helpful as we’ve discussed our projects, and shared ideas and thoughts.
Initially, I had intended to work towards one exhibition at the end of my Fellowship. But when the door opened for an earlier solo show at a new gallery in Sydney, I jumped through it! I saw it as a useful challenge to work through some of the imagery and ideas early in the project, to lead to a more thoughtful and well-articulated exhibition at the end of the Fellowship. I had already planned several of the compositions, but I hadn’t finished any of the paintings. My preference was to work through the ideas and reading, studies and drawings early on, so it became an intense 10 weeks of stretching and preparing canvases and painting.
The ‘Numbering Stars’ exhibition has run for three weeks [closing on 21 June] at Thienny Lee Gallery in Edgecliff. It featured two main events, including the opening and an artist talk in the form of a conversation between myself and ADM Senior Research Fellow, Alix Beeston. The conversation with Alix provided a space for me to communicate some of my processes and decision-making in creating the paintings; to retell some of my previous experience as an artist and Christian; to communicate the need for art in society; and to encourage Christians to embrace the visual arts as a vital area where culture and ideas are formed and changed. I quoted Daniel A. Siedell in his introduction to God in the Gallery, where he turns to the Apostle Paul’s approach to the Gentiles at the Areopagus in Athens as a paradigm for how we can approach modern and contemporary art – seeing in art something that points to God, even if God is unknown to the art maker.
I’m excited now to begin work on the next collection of paintings – a second part to ‘Numbering Stars’. This collection will continue to respond to Genesis 15 as a story expressing the wonder and strangeness of the hope that can be ours, even (and especially) during times filled with despair or uncertainty.
You can view the paintings from Jo's exhibition online here.