Communicating through the Back Door

Who knew that architecture was a great way to promote understanding about other faiths? I found this out first-hand in Chicago recently where I was attending RC Congress and took in a sacred space architecture tour.

The way it works is that for each location, someone from that faith explained the key points of the faith and the worship experience, then this woman who knew a ton of stuff about architecture talked about the building.

It got me thinking—this kind of indirect communication was pretty effective. People who maybe wouldn’t sign up for a multi-faith seminar might very well do an architecture tour.

Here’s another example of this back-door communication, one from my tradition. The United Church of Canada is trying to do this in a creative way (OK, so I’m biased) in its Paint Your Faith project. They brought artists together to create these giant murals/graffiti collections/artworks on the walls of public buildings in Toronto and Vancouver to get people talking about faith.

The Vancouver Paint Your Faith project is taking place as I write. Check out some of the photos from it on their flickr site.

So how else could we apply this?

– Rebekah

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2 thoughts on “Communicating through the Back Door

  1. I think looking at visual expression of faith and culture today is just a coming full circle in faith expression…in pre-printing press Europe, the Gothic cathedrals and stained glass windows communicated the faith and culture to Christendom in a society where few could read and only the rich could purchase a book. Now that we are post-printing press and iPadified, we are leaving the word and letter-generating keypad behind for the touching of icons on a screen…

    Architecture and wall art are great ways to explore faith and culture in a visual way in a newly visual culture, and may explain why our word based liturgies are not so appealing to contemporary audiences.

    A sign of faith and cultural expression through visual arts is Murals DC, a wall art project is running in Washington, D.C., and is offering vitality and canvases for cultural expression in the innercity – Murals DC enables local grafitti artists to use their skills not to tag but express their realities living in inner city D.C. and learn techniques from professional artists as well – some of these young mural artists have launched their professional careers through this project and enriched their neighborhoods – are they building secular “sacred spaces” with their art? See some of the murals…http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/gallery/2010/01/14/GA2010011403123.html

  2. Thanks for the mention of Paint Your Faith, Rebekah. Both the Toronto and the Vancouver events stirred up some good discussions on art and faith — as well as challenged some people’s expectations about “organized religion.”

    Shelia, Chor Boogie, one of the artists who worked with Murals DC, also worked on the Paint Your Faith Toronto mural. He was showed up at the Vancouver event and offered his art to the steeple at First United Church Mission. It’s also an amazing mix of art and architecture that is creating a lot of buzz. You can see some pictures here:

    http://www.facebook.com/#!/photo.php?pid=5717280&op=1&o=global&view=global&subj=20084802978&id=611801997&fbid=420398821997

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