by James Tughan

Since John Franklin, Phyllis Novak and I toiled over the Lausanne paper, “Redeeming The Arts”, in Thailand 2004, we have each been continuing to apply the clear mandate of that unique global meeting of Christian advocates for the arts. For my part, this has meant finding ways to build a better support system for artists in our own spiritual community, in our churches and in our schools.

It has meant sowing seeds in the minds of young talented visual artists in particular, who clearly lack sufficient encouragement from knowledgeable church leaders, high school teachers and yes parents. By encouragement I mean a commitment to supporting the idea that artists are valued members of the faith community, and that they can have viable paid careers in broad variety of career paths that go far beyond traditional fine art.

We cannot allow these gifted students to simply disappear and give up on being artists. It also means, in working with churches, children, high school students, college students and international groups that my focus has been on “Art as Language”, rich in aesthetics but also potent in communication, no matter how subtle. One recent facet of this work, has occurred in the ongoing fine art program at Redeemer University College, where I work as adjunct faculty.

Our figure drawing students this year completed a project which I believe breaks fresh ground in re-interpreting the metaphor of “Taking Up One’s Cross” in a project called WINGSPAN. Shown below is one of the drawings, this one completed by Denise Bentum.

James Tughan can be reached at