In my time off this weekend, we went to the Mint Museum in Charlotte. It was there I came across a piece of art made from bread ties. It reminded me of my love for pop art, found object, and even some of Dada, because it uses the things we see each day and lifts them up to art.
Warhol is still my favorite. He speaks to the reality of his childhood life. Painting the things he saw in everyday life. A soup can. A Brillo box. A picture of Elvis or Marilyn. It is also the reminder that people get to decide what their art is, what their beauty is, what their faith is.
I see pastors regularly go into a church and say: that’s tacky, that’s ugly, that’s why no one comes to this church! We need to clean it up, get rid of this, put some “real” art or some “real” music in. Instead of deciding for a congregation (if you read my posts regularly you know what I’m going to say) let them tell you about their space. Learn that that banner that you don’t like because the red is faded and the images are not cut out well was made by a person who was dying of cancer. Find out that the “out of style” baptismal font was handmade by the confirmation class thirty years ago. Appreciate that the images of Christ on the way that you want to take down came back from war with the body of a church member who didn’t.
You think greased pig chases or fish fries are not what the church should be doing? They’re doing it.
You don’t like kitschy crochet blankets and silk flowers on your altar? And? They do.
The colonizing tendency to try to dictate what art and beauty are for everyone and to create a standard of beauty (or faith, or hope, or ministry) when one ends up in a small rural church that decorates with animal fur and pictures of their veterans is not helpful and dangerous to ministry. If anything, Jesus in the gospels allows rural communities permission to live their faith on their own terms and not to listen to metropolitan elites. Faith, beauty, and ministry emerge out of community, culture, and connection to the divine and in their context.
Sure, add some of your personality to it, but don’t wage war on your church because you *need* the “nicest,” “newest,” and “most popular” art. Plus, who wants a church that is not full of handmade arts and crafts made by members past and present as expressions of their faith and life experiences?
2 thoughts on “Bread Ties and Homemade Banners”
In my experience, the problem comes when those things from the past don’t allow space for anything new. What happens when no one knows the stories anymore of the thing that can barely be moved without falling into dust?
(you poked something… thank you for this reflection, with possible invitation to conversation.)
This is a good question. My assumption is that this has become a haunted object then. An object that seems to hold meaning, but a meaning that holds the church hostage. A feeling of: Things used to be this way, or things could go back, or if only we had more people like “memorial plaque.”
I also think people know the stories, it may be the story they carry that they don’t realize. I think asking for space to add is key. I think asking people for why and why the can’t let things go.
Dig into the their story, because it may be their story, not the story of the candlestick that is preventing it from moving.