Jonathan Evens was interviewed by the Pentecost Festival team prior to the Run with the Fire exhibition. This is what he said:
Can you tell us about yourself and a little bit about the work you do?
I am a minister, writer and visual artist located in
East London. I’ve been writing poetry and short stories from a young age. I was ordained in 2003 and from that point onwars have been blending ministry and art. Before I was ordained, I was doing both separately. One of the great things about being ordained has been to explore art and ministry together. In the two churches I’ve ministered in so far, there have been many opportunities to initiate arts-related ministry in a parish setting.
What scriptures or what technique do you use to help people connect the dots with God & art?
I think it’s helpful to think in terms of the different persons within the Trinity. The Father (Creator) - we are all made in the image of God and this implies that we will all have creative abilities to express in some way. The Son (Jesus) - the incarnation of God becoming a human being is important for the visual arts because, while in Judaism and Islam artists don’t depict God, within Christianity we can because God appeared as a human being as Jesus. On the basis of that, we can depict God. Finally, the Holy Spirit comes on human beings in relation to our arts and crafts abilities. A good example are the people who created the tabernacle by means of the Spirit’s inspiration. It is, therefore, a gift of the Spirit to be an artist.
Who is your favourite visual artist and why?
My favourite visual artist is Mark Chagall; a Russian Jew who lived in
for a large part of his life. His paintings were based on his imaginative and emotional life. Some images were taken from the bible and others from his personal experience and childhood. There is a whole mix that goes on in his canvas that he brings together and reconciles in his paintings. France
Tell us about a time that you’ve seen God’s working through your art?
One particular way is through a serious of mediations that I’ve written on Christ’s passion. These have been used in a number of arts projects during Holy Week. People have taken the meditations with them as they have seen the artworks, so that people can stop and reflect on the meaning of the passion. This helped people understand what Jesus went through during the Holy Week. Through the combination of these meditations and artworks, each person had their own unique experience of the Passion.
You are connected with international artists. How important is collaboration to you?
Collaboration is very important, especially in visual arts. It’s easy for artists to feel isolated. There can often be misunderstandings within the Church of what they do and what they are about, leading artists to feel not valued. I am part of an organization called commission4mission that exists to bring artist of Christian faith together, to promote their work to churches, and to encourage the commissioning new pieces of contemporary art for church buildings. We also exist for networking and sharing thoughts and ideas. Such groups are vital for the support and encouragement of artists in the Church.
What are you doing in the Pentecost Festival this year?
I am organizing an exhibition with commission4mission at the Strand Gallery which has the theme of Run With the Fire. It is a collaborative project with two other arts organizations (
CANA and Veritasse) and is based on Pentecost and 2012 Games themes. The central image of Run With the Fire comes from the Olympic torch and the exhibition as a whole explores running life’s race with passion and spirit. The launch night is May 21st at 6pm and the exhibition is May 22nd – 27th from 11am - 6pm.
Are you excited about the 2012 Games?
What impact do you think the 2012 Games will have on the City of
I think it will have a big impact! It will create a large level of interest and engagement for a lot of people visiting the City of
. The churches will create outreach events around the Games and ultimately, there will be a tangible legacy in London East London from having had the 2012 Games here. Run with the Fire is a resource for the kind of community and outreach events that churches will organise. It is a digital art exhibition on DVD including work from twenty five different international artists which can be projected or shown on monitors at Olympics-themed events. The Run With the Fire DVD is on sale via Veritasse at http://www.veritasse.co.uk/.