The Value of Art

Written by: Allie Sampson
Photographed by: Sydnee Mela and JD Gravitt

One of the core pillars of the 18 Inch Journey is Creativity.  It stands alongside Worship and Community, two other aspects that we believe are keys to wholeness, and we believe that it is vital to the heart.  We believe that creativity is not a talent, but rather is a natural expression of us connecting with our Father, the ultimate Creator.  During the 18 Inch Journey, the students cultivate creativity in a range of areas, some of which they may have loved for years, and others that may be brand new to them.  Recently, we posted a blog about Collectives: specific small groups focusing on one creative expression spanning the course of the Journey.  However, one of the other areas that students cultivate creativity in is Art Class. 

Twice a week, the students gather together in the Art Barn to receive technical and inspiring art lessons from our Art Director, Justina Stevens and her assistant, Lindsay Armistead.  In their first lesson, the students are taught to make a History Book: a handmade leather book to visually document their journey with God.  Throughout the course of the Journey, the students are given various History Book prompts, or assignments, to help them chronicle their time spent on the land.  In addition to History Booking, students are taught a scope of art techniques, mediums and terminology.  Within the safety of family, the students are released to explore, create and share.  After each prompt is complete, students share what they’ve created with each other and learn the power of encouragement and being seen.  

We cultivate creativity through art throughout the entirety of the 18 Inch Journey because we believe that learning how to see properly is essential to life.  We believe that art is not about what you produce, but who you become in the process.  This year it was our great privilege to take the whole school to the North Carolina Museum of Art and give them space to drink in beauty and be inspired.  As they walked around the museum, students found that their vision has changed.  They began to understand that great art draws something out of us, inspires us and causes us to recognize the beauty that is all around us.  

By encountering, learning and creating art, the 18 Inch Journey students learn to connect visual art and expression with what is inside the heart.  More than the students becoming fantastic artists, it is our dream that they would grasp how to be constantly inspired to produce from a place of wholeness.  As artists, it is easy to fall into the trap of creating from a place of striving or proving, but when this happens, we miss the point.  The Father created out of inspiration and delight, and we believe it is His dream to meet us in our creating.  We believe the point of art is intimacy with Him.  

For more details about the Art Barn or the History Book, check out the videos below: