Artist-in-Community

“I weave liturgy and visual image. One is the warp and one is the weft.” —Nancy Chinn

As an Artist-in-Community, Nancy Chinn has guided dozens of faith communities and organized groups of individuals in the creation of art for worship.

Chinn credits her calling as a liturgical artist to the church’s nurturing presence throughout her life. This, plus close ties to her faith community and exposure to advanced education allowed her to forge her vision for community-created art.

It was during a course on cultural anthropology, while exploring the importance of the visual artist to various cultures, that Chinn developed a vision for what artists could do in faith communities. She took this idea to her pastor who encouraged her to give it a try. The result was her first installation, “Ethiopian Angels” (image upper right). “It was magical” she said, in part because this was a time when creating art in community was unheard of; ordinarily, the liturgical artist worked alone and was responsible for the entire project.

The real magic happened once the banners went up. Soon members of the congregation sought her out, asking how they could be involved in future projects.

Chinn says her understanding of the collaborative process begins with her self-identification as a weaver: “I weave liturgy and visual image. One is the warp and one is the weft. I also work in components, like a tapestry artist would. I always think of the work as something that can be broken into units that can be accomplished by different people and put together to make a whole.” Chinn’s role in the process is to visualize the finished image and encourage the breadth of involvement which brings it to completion (see below).

Nancy Chinn’s creative process: A theological reflection

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