St. Philip’s Children & Family Ministry hosted a viewing of the children’s paintings in the Murphey Gallery one Sunday morning in August 2016. In addition to the art, prominently featured were hors d’oeuvres and balloons, as well as a “welcome” cake for our new Rector. The icons were painted by teams of children in February and were used during the Children’s Way of the Cross worship service on Good Friday last March.
Artist and art teacher Olivia Ramirez, of Brush and Bottle, was engaged to work with the children and teach them the basics of painting. Ms. Ramirez sketched the eight pictorial representations of the arrest, crucifixion, death, and resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ onto the canvases, and then the children painted them.
The children were prepared in advance of the actual painting as to what happened on those days leading up to the arrest and crucifixion of Christ, so that, as they were painting, they were actually thinking and talking about the story. The story of Christ’s death and resurrection comes alive for children when expressed through art, and this was no doubt true for our children. One child looked up from her work with a tear in her eye and remarked, “I wish they hadn’t done those mean things to Jesus,” which gave me the opportunity to reply, “In a way, when we sin, we are all guilty of those mean things.”
Our Interim Rector, the Rev. Canon Frank Clark, blessed the icons during a Thursday Eucharist service and they were displayed on crosses throughout the Children’s Courtyard for the Good Friday Service. Placing our children’s art in the context of worship enhanced the spiritual perception as well as the prayer life of our children.
In October 2016, Children & Family Ministry will team up with potter Pam Ballingham of St. Philip’s Pottery Ministry to work with our older children, as I work with the younger children in making pottery. The point of this project is to make real for children the truth that God is the creator of our lives, just as we are the creator of things in our lives — and, to experience firsthand through the clay how we are molded by God into the person that we are to become. I’m currently writing a curriculum based on the many images of pottery given to us in the Bible.
The overall theology of these object lessons in art with our children is that of creation. God is the creator of all, but as we create, God is glorified by the beauty of our creations. These are truths that Christian children should live out in their lives, just as adult Christians should live these truths out in their daily lives. As our children see themselves honoring and giving glory to God, they will grow in their spirituality and in their personal experience of God.
You can read more about the children’s icons in the Arizona Daily Star here (published Saturday, August 6, 2016).
—Dr. Sandralyn Pierce, Director, Children & Family Ministries
Photo credits: Ambur Mette, Roger Rainbolt