On Thursday, Jan. 21, three graduated art majors returned to campus to present their Senior Integration Projects after a quarter inch of ice froze campus activity on Wednesday, delaying the show. It was worth the wait, and this was made incredibly apparent by the many faithful friends and family willing to brave the thawing campus. The theme was “Meditation: A Discourse Intended to Express its Author’s Reflections or to Guide Others in Contemplation.”
Drake Rustand created a fictitious silent film which, as he puts it, follows “the character as he is trying to find the music of life.” Drake leaves the music itself to the interpretation of the viewer, but tries to assign meaning to the “object” of the headphones as a symbol, saying; “If you see the headphones now as you go about your day, you can think about this and debate about the ideas within it.” Drake fights the tendency to see meditation as something we pre-meditate, and suggests that it is best recognized as the daily rhythm or routine we find in life.
Maddie Allen’s work consists of broken glass bottles and is suspended from a plaster and metal wire structure, resembling tree cover. Of the experience of actually looking up through the trees, she asked, “What is it about this that makes you think about God? I’m trying to render that in an art form.” She stresses engageability rather than mere appearance in the work, suggesting that this structure guides people to come and “experience” what the light God creates does (similar to stained glass) as it interacts with her work, rather than placing emphasis on the structure itself.
Mary Miller’s project highlights the process that created it. She said, “I wanted to make a work of art that was about the discipline of being present instead of attempting to distract myself with my phone or facebook or something else.” Her work is a grid of watercolor leaves accompanied by sheets of colored fingerprints, each of which corresponds to the order she applied each layer of color. Miller said, “There is something about the act of touching your skin to something that jars your senses and tells you you’re here.”
Communion cups also line the bottom of Miller’s grid and help reiterate this discipline—what Miller sees as “recognizing the value of the present moment, and encountering God here in this moment to see what he has to give me.”
Allen explained that their group’s work is an attempt to “address this idea of active living versus passive living. We wanted to ask people to engage with us as we start to engage the experience of meditation.”
These respective artists express an alternative to filling our spare minutes on social media or blasting the latest single through our ear buds. Meditation may have an ambiguous definition in Christian circles, but these projects help collectively guide us to a new one as we seek to experience Christ and grow in our relationship with Him.