What drew you to this interdisciplinary field?
I have always explored this intersection between the visual and the written, specifically in mixed media and poetic form. Software development in nonprofits and higher education has been what I’ve drawn to in my career, because I love growing things and trying new things. Since the project-based master’s program in Vancouver required a lot of independent study, she took classes at the Emily Carr Institute of Art. I had a South African hair consultant living in the community. You have been able to structure the credits around these experiences.
At Bethel, I spent a lot of my time in the arts department, the English department, and in theology. Those areas and the intersection between them have always influenced what I was interested in and the questions I asked. I really wanted to see what it means to break the sacred/secular divide between art and belief. What is the difference between Christian artist and Christian art? Or a Christian artist compared to art that seems Christian?
Did you come to any answers?
I believe that in every profession, study and research pay off the more you advance in it and realize that there is a privilege to pursue in any practice. Very concretely, poetry has an internal logic. The more you add to your collection of tools and resources, the more unique your craft will become. The artwork is not good because it is message oriented but because the artist knows the aesthetic language and how to apply it to a piece of work. The artwork is good because these inner systems come together and resonate, and are based on larger themes of truth, beauty, and goodness.
Discovering this has been a long journey, but sure enough, one that began with a lot of guides – especially women – in Bethel.
What was the experience of these women in Bethel?
There are four in particular. One of them worked in the president’s office and was seeking an M.Div. She was just a theologically grounded woman, and we’d meet really synergistically. I felt that was what made this experience so important, that she asked me out. At that point in life, I really wanted to learn from someone who had gone ahead.
Another mentor was the Head of Career Development and Communication at the time, and her ability to assess and analyze motivations and pursuits helped me see that the profession, or what we decide to do, is more connected to our identity than anything else. It is that process from birth to death where God continues to summon who we are and who we are against a single point of crisis where we announce the job title.
The administrative assistant who worked in the Office of Christian Formation and Church Relations was this delightful woman who asked such deliberate and inquisitive questions; She was a passionate traveler who loved adventure. We ended up, not planning, to be in Paris at the same time as I was in Bethel.
Then my writing professor gave me the freedom to know that poetry and art were worth pursuing and that I would figure out how to support myself while still creatively processing and interacting with the world. It was good that there was no clear path.