A few of Miriam’s grandchildren recently returned from a whirlwind introductory tour of Europe including Berlin, Amsterdam, Paris, and London.
Can you guess where they spent most of their time in those cities touring? Museums and churches!
Why? Well, it wasn’t to see the technology they used at the time for music or lighting or even to hear a sermon. They went to see the amazing art and architecture of the period that has lasted hundreds of years and drawn the adoration of millions of people.
Art, if properly cared for, can create a greater and longer-lasting impact in a church than any other investment in a material thing outside of architecture.
The work above, The Shepherd at Galilee, was purchased in 2016 by a group of women for Saint Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Vestavia Hills, Alabama, and it hangs in their main foyer along with several other works from well-known Birmingham artists. Sadly, just a few weeks ago, three members of that congregation were killed in a mass shooting. We would hope that Miriam’s work, along with the other art pieces, would draw them to the Great Shepherd who can lead them through the valley of the shadow of death during this time of grieving and healing.
Unfortunately, many Protestant and non-denominational churches in America do not have a strong visual arts tradition. Music and worship budgets far outpace the budget for visual arts (if there even is one) in most churches.
You’ve probably heard of choir/music directors or worship leaders who are paid staff, but have you ever run into a paid Visual Arts director at a church? Probably not.
WHY IS THERE SO LITTLE ART IN CHURCHES
Some denominations have doctrinal reasons why their church walls are blank, but the lack of art on most American church walls likely stems from:
- Most older members may understand and appreciate music more than art, but this trend is changing for those under 30 with the Internet.
- Artistic style is difficult to agree upon corporately, though musical taste is also highly individual and churches have adapted to different styles within the same church.
- Art on church walls is more permanent than a musical choice, and yet art can be changed out periodically as well.
- There appears to be a lack of quality, faith-inspired original art to select.
- The artwork that is available is too small for large spaces.
- It is not well understood how churches can benefit from art corporately or individually.
- Visual artists are not nurtured and encouraged in the majority of churches.
All this leads many churches in American communities not to put the time or resources into art for their mostly blank church walls.
WHERE TO SEE MIRIAM’S ART PUBLICLY
Fortunately, several churches in Birmingham and Alabama have recognized the value of art in their places of worship and have included Miriam’s work which you can see when you visit the church.
Birmingham churches include Cathedral Church of the Advent, First United Methodist Church, Shades Valley Lutheran Church, Saint Stephen’s Episcopal Church, and Briarwood Presbyterian Church. In Alabama near Pell City, St. Simon Peter Episcopal Church also has Miriam’s work.
HOW TO START INTRODUCING ART
- Ask the administrator or building supervisor at your church if there is already an established procedure or committee for determining what goes on walls. If not, start one!
- Gather together a group of like-minded people at your church and talk about ways you can introduce art to the church.
- Talk with your pastor about why art is important and see if part of the budget can be allocated to art.
- Donate a work of art to the church yourself.
- Consider leasing a work or even renting one.
- Many of your members may be artists and would love to create work for the church on commission. Ask around!
MIRIAM’S BIBLICAL ART
Many of Miriam’s works draw from her faith in God and the stories and events in the bible. We have put together a collection of some of her larger faith-inspired works that are currently available:
Contact us at our email firstname.lastname@example.org if you, your church, or your organization are interested in viewing or purchasing these works. You can also see Miriam’s faith-inspired work on a special Instagram account @drawing_on_the-promises.