It's after midnight, and this time I really mean it when I say I should be sleeping. Oh, the ache. But I've just gotten home from rehearsing with the band and I've been waiting three days now to tell you about Masterpiece Project 2008:Genesis Eternal!!! In a word: inspiring.
If you're just tuning in, Masterpiece Ministries is an organization (not for profit) whose aim is to encourage youth in their pursuit of art & faith. The idea is that we are called to be excellent at our artmaking and passionately devoted as followers of Christ. Many churches are beginning to rise up and support their resident artists, but it's not always so. And many young people also lack the encouragement of their own families as they begin to pursue the arts. Ahhh, so much to say here. This is conversation to be enjoyed over coffee, rather than alone at a computer in the middle of the night!
This was our first year on the new campus in Scottsville, KY, and the facilities are not complete yet. But the first dorms are there and beautiful (really) and we also had a great kitchen and multi-purpose space, in addition to an in-progress recording studio. Space was tight, but it felt really great to be in our own space now, and it seemed to foster a better sense of community and intimacy than past years. There is a diversity of students that is simply gorgeous...students from different states with different homelives, different musical tastes, different fashion styles, different educational backgrounds, different ethnicities, etc., who came together and were friends--more than that...brothers and sisters.
Every night we have open mic, and just about everyone gets up there at some point during the week--some are hilarious, others very serious (we had dancers, singers, actors, poets, filmmakers, storytellers, painters, photographers), and every single one was met with applause and cheers of affirmation. There is a time for critique and a time for cheering. Open mic is about cheering.
Other highlights of the week included our guest speakers...an art historian from Asbury College who had more joy and sensitivity in her pinky than most of us have in a lifetime...Melinda Peinado, an actress and theater teacher/professional who also led our drama studio...Dale Baker, an all-around great guy and drummer who spent years playing with Sixpence None the Richer and Over the Rhine, among other life achievements (he had us all in the palm of his hands with his hilarious anecdotes and unpolished style).
Also, each year all students and staff come together to work on one collaborative project, which is something totally new each year. This year, we focused on the "word made visual" and had the chance to explore the use of letter forms in art (wish I could tell you the names of some of the artists offhand, but I can't) and then the students chose the words they wanted to create/build. I loved this project. Based on our camp theme this year, which was "Genesis Eternal," the students decided to create these words:
Constant Creation I Am
Here's the catch: The words had to be built on the property in such a way that they would be illegible unless you were standing at very specific vantage points and looking through a tiny little oculus (new word for me, too). We used fabric scraps, pipes, tubing, wood, rope, pretty much any available material and worked for almost two days to build these words, each artist (from all forms) doing his or her part. And on Saturday the arriving parents were guided to these vantage points to peer through the oculi (sp??) and discern the message. Maybe it wasn't so impressive to the visual artists who get to "make stuff" all the time and are well-accustomed to the labor and sweat of stretching canvas or manipulating their materials...but for someone who spends her creative time in an air-conditioned room with a laptop and keyboard, it was all too exciting.
Sidenote: Doing real physical work is so satisfying and underrated nowadays...you feel strong and able and alive when you have the opportunity to exhaust your muscles and be uncomfortably hot, whether you're working in the garden or running a mile (which is my kind of marathon, btw) or helping the team to build letters out of scraps in the middle of nowhere, Kentucky. Really satistfying. Try itl I dare you. :)
Oh, here's another project that was as enjoyable as it was simple. You can definitely try this at home. Get your camera and head out (or actually, you could stay in, too)...look for every letter of the alphabet hidden in your surroundings. I'm talking about the essential shape of each letter, one by one...it might be a bit of piping that contains a "u" or a rambling root that reads "y"--a really delightful challenge. I should warn you: if you do this activity with your kids, prepare to be completely incapable of keeping up with their quick eyes and imaginations. My 7yo daughter helped my team and I finally had to ask her to stop monopolizing the "hunt." I had only begun to consider what the next letter of the alphabet WAS when she would announce she'd "found it!"
Oh, man, I'm getting long-winded and I'll pay for it in the morning for sure. Maybe I'll write more later. For sure, I'll post some pictures as soon as I know I'm legally allowed to post pictures that include students. I would love for you to be able to peek into the week, because it really is a unique time in the lives of many of these young adults. It is very common to hear them say: I've never experienced anything like this--I'll definitely be coming back next year. In fact, it's very common to hear the STAFF members say those words! Four of our staff members this year were students at our very first Project 6 years ago.
Genesis Eternal...Constant Creation I Am...what does it mean to you?