Through the Veil: Art and the Local Church in Birmingham
As an artist, I have found myself caught in the tension of wanting to worship through art and not always having a space in the church to do so.
The Church has adapted throughout history, however, we have often fallen into the desire to be so focused on reason that we have cut out the need for beauty. Sometimes in our quest to escape the idolization of art, we have minimized the importance of art and isolated artists from the Church.
This Easter, my church in Birmingham, UK wanted to find a way to reach the creatives—to cross the rift between beauty and the church and celebrate the resurrection.
In Exodus, the Tabernacle is being formed. Different artists from the people of Israel are given the chance to create a space of beauty and worship. The gifts of creatives are used to bring us to a liminal space, one where the line between ourselves and heaven thinned.
When I read the crucifixion story, I am always struck by the moment Jesus dies, when the veil to the temple is torn and the Holy of Holies becomes fully accessible to the people. We are then invited into the heart of the temple, a place to worship where art is used to uplift our heads to the King.
We called the event Through the Veil—a reminder that the art we create is worship, it is worthy to be used to amplify the church, and it can be used to do so in community.
Thirteen artists across Birmingham came together to worship through poetry, spoken word, dance, painting, and digital art. Each created a piece that reflects what Easter means to them. Our goal as artists was to invite people into that meaning with us—to put our hearts on display through craft and ask others to see what it stirs in their own.
We have a unique chance in Europe to meet artists who come from a place rich in the history of connecting art and the church, and to reach them, we have to do the same.
In Francis Schaffer’s Art & the Bible, he says, ‘An art work can be a doxology in itself.’
This is what it means to be an artist, to sing a praise of truth and seek to share beauty in the world here and the world eternal. Art has always been used to connect people from across cultures, oceans, and time periods. It is a heart language that can be understood universally.
Through the Veil was a chance to see how art stirs us to think and interact with the gospel and worship in a way we have forgotten. A chance to reach into the heart of Europe, ignite the fire to see beauty in the church again, and see how God can be glorified in all mediums.
Giving people a place to share their work and the heart behind it was something our community was searching for but didn’t realise it was missing. After the event, artists and attendees alike shared their desire to see more come of this and to keep exploring how we can share the gospel through the arts.
Stepping into this idea, we have churches in Birmingham looking to give a stage to artists, to meet them in their space and let them share truth in beauty with artists who don’t yet know the gospel.
Art is vital to our faith. We seek a creative God, one who looked at the world and gave us beauty for our enjoyment and to point us back to Him. We have a chance to see small pieces of the kingdom here on earth through the art we create in desire of Him. People will always seek the beyond, into something just outside of reach, and fight to make it tangible—we have a chance to make the kingdom available to them.
Pray with us for the artists of Europe. Pray they might seek to know where their desire for creation comes from and might discover the source of all that is beautiful.
About the author:
Kavi Collins serves in Birmingham, UK with Greater Europe Mission.