Frequently Asked Questions

Also visit our About Page or Contact Us with additional questions.

How many verses are in the Bible?
You are making art on EVERY verse. How long will that take you?
Do you go through the Bible in order?
Is the project only for visual art? What kind of art is created for the project?
What does “Spark and Echo” mean?
Where did the idea for this project come from?
You say you are illuminating the whole Bible. What do you mean by “illuminate”?
How do you choose artists to be involved?
What are your criteria used when considering an artist to commission?
Do artists get paid to create work for Spark and Echo Arts?
Can I use art I find on this site for my church, project etc.?
I love this work I saw in your site. Is it for sale?
I have a painting that I made in college about Noah’s Ark. You can have that if you want.
Do you involve artists who are not Christian?
Do you censor work created for the project?
Is this a “family-friendly” project?
What are you going to do with the genealogies and numerical lists in the Bible?
When you are done with illuminating the entire Bible, will everything exist in one place?
How does Spark & Echo the Band fit into all this?

How many verses are in the Bible?
31,103

You are making art on EVERY verse. How long will that take you?
We feature a new work created for the project every week. At this rate and with your support we hope to illuminate the entire Bible in 20 years. Some works are in response to a single passage, others to multiple passages or chapters.

Do you go through the Bible in order?
No. We divide each year into several themes and artists create works in response to passages related to those themes. We want artists to choose topics and passages that are particularly interesting to them. When an artist creates work in response to a passage in the Bible, that passage has a special connection to them that can last through their life. Previous themes include Fools, Dance, Joy, Memories, Lies, Sheep, and Harvest.

Is the project only for visual art? What kind of art is created for the project?
We commission new works of visual art, music, poetry, dance, theatre, film and literature. This includes but isn’t limited to paintings, drawings, sculptures, jazz and instrumental music, art songs, poetry, spoken word, rap, hip-hop, performance art, video art, film, classical and contemporary dance, scripts, short stories, theatre in any style, soundscapes, recipes, and more.

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What does “Spark and Echo” mean?
The Bible is the Spark that we Echo.

Where did the idea for this project come from?
Prior to co-founding Spark and Echo Arts in 2010, composer and performer Jonathon Roberts had been creating music and theatre in response to the Bible for many years. The greatest way for an artist to learn about something they are interested in is to create a work of art that forces them to engage with the topic. For Jonathon, this became especially clear when creating a musical and theatrical response to the writings of the Apostle Paul in 2005. Words that he had often skimmed over came alive and took on a new depth of meaning. Inspired by these and other experiences, Jonathon and co-founder Emily Clare Zempel set about to create a framework and platform for other artists to creatively explore the Bible.

You say you are illuminating the whole Bible. What do you mean by “illuminate”?
An illuminated manuscript is traditionally thought of as an important text that is decorated with elaborate letters, borders or illustrations. Earliest manuscripts can be found from AD 400-600, though many are from the Middle Ages. Due to its importance and influence, the Bible is a popular book to illuminate, and the tradition continues today with modern visual artists.

We are inspired by and extend the concept of illuminating the Bible to involve artists working in all disciplines. We also celebrate modern technology and the joys of multi-disciplinary collaboration. We encourage artists to not just illustrate the text but to use their full range of creativity when responding, offering audiences a chance to contemplate the Bible in a unique way. For students of the Bible, this offers a depth of resource that can complement your study. Art has a special ability of allowing words and thoughts to linger in your heart.

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How do you choose artists to be involved?
We have a rotating team of curators across artistic disciplines, selected by our staff, that chooses artists. Each year our curators choose professional artists to create new works for the project. They also consider artists who suggest themselves to be considered for the project. If you are interested in being considered you may submit a work sample via our Suggest an Artist page. Someone from our team will respond if they are interested in selecting you to create a new work for our coming year. You may submit at any time. Artists are typically chosen in the Fall for the following year.

What are your criteria used when considering an artist to commission?
First and foremost our curators consider the quality of the artist’s previous work. We choose artists working at the top of their field and fully invested in their craft. Curators may also consider how the artist’s style fits with the themes we are exploring in that particular year. We strive for diversity in artistic discipline, background and style. We involve a balance of Christians and non-Christians, many of whom have never responded to the Bible creatively. Whether they believe in the Bible or not, we seek respectful artists who are excited by the challenge of creating art on the Bible, that will create thought-provoking work that captures the depth and variety in Scripture.

Do artists get paid to create work for Spark and Echo Arts?
Yes, artists receive a small honorarium. You have the opportunity to sponsor an artist for a personal way to empower a new work. Visit our Sponsor Page for details. We are striving to gradually raise honorarium levels to better support our artists.

Can I use art I find on this site for my church, project etc.?
All work created for Spark and Echo Arts is copyrighted by the artist and featured in our project by a contract between Spark and Echo Arts and the artist. If you are interested in using the work for your purposes please Contact Us and we can connect you with the artist for possible permission.

I love this work I saw in your site. Is it for sale?
Some works may be for sale directly from the artist. Contact us and we can connect you with the artist. Music by Spark & Echo the Band is available on CD and as a download here. (Proceeds benefit Spark and Echo Arts)

I have a painting that I made in college about Noah’s Ark. You can have that if you want.
We commission only new works made specifically for Spark and Echo Arts. If you are interested in being considered by our team of curators please submit a work sample on our Suggest an Artist page.

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Do you involve artists who are not Christian?
Yes. We seek a balance between artists who are Christian and artists who are not Christian. We also involve a balance of artists who have have never created art in response to the Bible and those who have. We love the Bible and the kinds of experiences we have had creating art in response to it and want everyone to have those kinds of experiences. The Bible is powerful and the potential influence of its words on a person is limitless. We want all artists to have memorable encounters with the Bible and forever consider it an integral part of their life and art. Audiences will also benefit by learning how artists from wide backgrounds respond to the Bible. We hope this process keeps the Bible at the forefront of an ongoing cultural and creative dialogue.

Do you censor work created for the project?
No. Spark and Echo Arts is committed to commissioning a diverse collection of artists and giving them the freedom to respond to the Bible honestly. Out of respect for the artists, our policy is to not censor the work created for the project except in rare circumstances.

The Bible tells a true story of redemption that is for all people. Included in this story are moments of unfathomable beauty and the darkest moments of human history. By asking professional artists from diverse backgrounds to respond to every part of the Bible, we are asking them to also respond to those moments of depravity and darkness. The Bible is God’s Word told through many different voices. We are asking hundreds of today’s most talented artists to respond with their voice. You may not feel a connection to, or even feel offended by, an artist or their work. We are not asking you to love, agree with, or understand every work created for this project. We are asking you to stand by and support the act of engaging culture with the Bible.

We also choose artists, whether Christian or not, that we feel are truly interested in engaging and exploring the Bible for the benefit of the audience. Each work created for this project offers you the chance to respond to and contemplate God’s Word in a unique way. Our hope is that through this process more and more people dig deep into the Bible and weave these words into their lives.

There is a trend in many professional arts circles to dismiss the Bible, Christianity, or religion as irrelevant. As lovers of the arts and the Bible this is saddening. Artists shape culture; we want those shaping culture to not toss aside the Bible, but look to it as something worthy of their deep consideration, using their full range of talents. Stand with us, stand by artists who are brave enough to wrestle publicly with something they may not agree with, and stand with the promise that “God’s Word will not return empty” (Isaiah 55:11).

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Is this a “family-friendly” project?
This is a massive project that will grow to thousands of works of art. Each work is different. Artists come from a range of backgrounds and we give them the freedom to respond honestly (explained above). Think of exploring this online gallery like attending a city’s contemporary art museum. Going to the museum is a wonderful family activity; many works may feel “family-friendly” while other works you should avoid with your children. For parents, teachers, pastors and church leaders, as with any culture you consume, this means taking a discerning look at works from the project before you share with those you influence. Keep in mind that a work you may not like may be the spark another person needs to discover the Bible for the first time. In the future we will offer appropriate tools to help you better search the collection.

What are you going to do with the genealogies and numerical lists in the Bible?
Artists started creating responses to some of these passages for our project in 2013. The world is full of all kinds of artists, many of whom would be excited by this special challenge. Every number in the Bible is important, is there for a reason, and is worthy of our thought and intrigue. Each name is a real person connected to God’s greater story. There is so much wrapped up in every word of the Bible that the potential for creative and theological response is limitless.

When you are done with illuminating the entire Bible, will everything exist in one place?
This is living project that we hope will continue to grow even after every verse is illuminated once. We hope artists will respond to one another, creating multiple works on each passage, to increase the creative dialogue. Every work created for the project is currently featured through our online gallery at SparkandEcho.org. We also showcase works at live events primarily in New York City. As technology evolves and support for the project grows, we look forward to exploring other ways to share these works.

How does Spark & Echo the Band fit into all this?
Spark & Echo is a band that grew out of the project featuring co-founders and husband–wife duo Jonathon Roberts and Emily Clare Zempel. Think of Spark & Echo like the “house band” for the project, as well as one of the resident artists that creates art for Spark and Echo Arts. Spark & Echo also acts as ambassadors for the project, performing concerts at music venues, colleges, bars, coffee houses, and churches and sharing news about the project. By doing this they raise funds to keep the non-profit going and connect with new audiences and artistic communities. You can learn more about Spark & Echo and pick up new music that supports the larger non-profit at www.SparkandEchoBand.com

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