Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Fuller Flashback 2000: Serving as Arts Concerns Chair

Back in the year 2000 (it seems amazing to realize that was a full decade ago, now!), I had the privilege of serving as the chair of what was then called the "Arts Concerns Committee" of Fuller Theological Seminary (they go by "Fuller Arts Collective" nowadays).  Although I am proud to have had that title, it has to be said that I kind of "fell into" the position, accepting the role as a favor to a friend who was experiencing a family crisis, and being the only one of the then-only-3 other people on the Arts Concerns Committee who was really in any position to take on extra responsibilities (let alone these extra responsibilities!).

It's a very different story these days.  Now that the Brehm Center for Worship, Theology, and the Arts is fully in place, there are quite a few people at Fuller who aren't shy about expressing artistic inclinations.  But that wasn't always the case. I think it might be fair to say that my "generation" of students fell into a kind of "donut hole" at Fuller.  The Arts Concerns Committee started perhaps a decade before my time, when there was already a considerable number of students with deep interest in expressing their artistic skills in ways that connected with their Christian faith.  But that generation of students had long since moved on, and the wave of students that would eventually come because of the Brehm Center had not yet arrived.  In many ways, it seems that I was a "caretaker," making sure that Arts stayed alive on campus during a fallow period.

Although there weren't as many of us back then, that's not to say that I had nothing to do during my tenure.  Fuller had already established the tradition of an annual Arts Festival at that time, although it did look a bit different then than it does now, with its focus on a single guest speaker and a Saturday "Chalk Walk" where families would come to draw on our sidewalks.  I also helped to edit the annual arts magazine, Offerings, drawing upon my experience doing something similar while I was in college.  I'm especially proud of a project we put together toward the end of the academic year, whereby we invited students to do oil paintings once a week for about a month in the open patio area we call "the Garth" (which actually is the legitimate term for the place, and not a reference to a person's name).  Quite a few students stopped by to participate, or perhaps just to admire the works being created.  Either way, people were being made aware of the place artistic expression held within our community.

This week is the 2010 edition of the annual Arts Festival (now called "Arts Fest") at Fuller.  In keeping with this year's theme of "The Elements," a few students have already been working to increase awareness on campus through various creative means.  A few weeks ago, some chalk drawings featuring a periodic table (Get it?  "Elements"?) have appeared on campus, with various "elements" missing from the table, only to be found isolated in other portions of the campus.  Although I'm not entirely sure, I suspect that the mass of pinwheels discovered on the grassy mall area last week were also part of this awareness project ("wind" is often considered an "element," in the classical "earth, air, fire, and water" sense).  The Arts are alive and well at Fuller!

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