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  • A New Language

    allison-daniell_obadiah.jpg Loading Video . . . In response to Obadiah 1:21, photographer Allison Daniell Moix offers this work as in thoughtful and vulnerable reflection. Obadiah 1:21 A New Language By Allison Daniell Moix ​ Credits: ​ Curated by: Laurel Justice 2018 ​ ​ Photography Primary Scripture Saviors will go up on Mount Zion to judge the mountains of Esau, and the kingdom will be Yahweh’s. Obadiah 1:21 Share This Art: Facebook X (Twitter) WhatsApp LinkedIn Pinterest Copy Link ​ This verse at the end of Obadiah is a triumphant close to an otherwise difficult book. The bulk of the book is about God punishing the nations who wronged Israel, His chosen people. There's a lot about judgment. There's a lot about how these pagan nations will be punished in one way or another and then BAM! In the end, the exiles regain their land and the kingdom belongs to the Lord! Woo! We should be pumped. But, this verse happens to find me at a time when there doesn't feel like there's a lot to celebrate — on a personal and a national level. The past two years have been one crisis after another — between deaths of loved ones and marital issues and bodily injury — and that has left me feeling decidedly tired and un-triumphant. The past two years have also felt very polarizing for our country (the USA), as political wars between right and left have heated up and climbed to levels I thought were behind us. In the midst of all these tensions, I understand that there are things worth celebrating, but it doesn't feel that simple anymore because "Life demanded a new language," to quote Nicole Krauss from The History of Love . But, perhaps in the midst of finding a new language for God and my relationship with Him and what I think He wants from us, celebration will ensue. Spark Notes The Artist's Reflection ​ Allison Daniell Moix is part Southern and part wild West. As soon as she graduated college in Tennessee (where she grew up) with a BFA in Graphic Design, she packed her car up (and left anything behind that wouldn't fit!) and headed for Colorado because she had fallen in love with the mountains working there several summers as a camp counselor. She immediately became involved in the photography and arts industries, working under other photographers and with an arts nonprofit until 2008. That's when she started her own business, Stellar Propeller Studio. Since then, she has been hired to photograph all over the world but is still a fine artist at heart. To date, Allison has had five solo exhibitions of her work and is currently working on a personal project to illustrate the book of Galatians. She also has a large collection of sunglasses and boomboxes. Website Allison Daniell Moix About the Artist Allison Daniell Moix Other Works By Related Information View More Art Make More Art ​ View Full Written Work Close Loading Video . . . ​ Download Full Written Work

  • Nambala Wani

    Loading Video . . . Musician Peter Mawanga brings his joyful signature sound to Acts 4:10-12 in this song exploring the person and role of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Acts 4:10-12 Nambala Wani By Peter Mawanga ​ Credits: ​ Curated by: Spark+Echo Arts 2020 ​ ​ ​ Primary Scripture Loading primary passage... Loading Passage Reference... Share This Art: Facebook X (Twitter) WhatsApp LinkedIn Pinterest Copy Link ​ "Nambala Wani" is Chichewa for "Number One." This song was inspired by the book of Acts — particularly chapter 4, verse 12 which reads: "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved." (NIV) Therefore, Jesus remains the center of all the things we do and who we are. He is the beginning and the end: He is number one. Spark Notes The Artist's Reflection ​ Peter Mawanga has attracted worldwide acclaim with his music, the Nyanja vibes, performing on world stages in Africa, Europe and America. Not a stranger to the BBC and other media outlets, Mawanga has established himself as one of the living legends in Malawi and Africa. Blending traditional instruments as the Nyanja’s visekese, malimba , and kaligo , with contemporary instruments, he produces music that is fondly described by many as therapeutic, drawing from the Nyanja’s core values of peace and calm. The Nyanja are the most peaceful people in Africa and their country Malawi, which has never been at war, be it civil or otherwise, is known as the warm heart of Africa. Their instruments are deliberately designed to produce sounds that appeal to different feelings that aim at calming the nerves, celebrating life, pleading for peace and mostly merrymaking. It is from this source that Peter birthed the aMaravi movement and the celebrated Nyanja afro-vibes which mainly took off when he produced the now world renown album, Mawu A Malawi (The Voice of Malawi) , which featured stories of AIDS. For seven months Peter and colleagues had collected narratives from twenty-six of the most inspiring people they had ever met. They shared their loss, pain, joy, courage, and wisdom. The result of the project was Mawu a Malawi . The album was launched at the University of North Carolina and Department of State, making Peter Mawanga the first African musician to perform at the office of the Secretary of State. Since then, Peter’s performances have been holistic, characterized by song, film, dance, talks and sometimes dramatic monologues. His talks, among other things topics, are on: Malawian traditional sounds ; origins, use, relevance, relation to Africa and the world at large, the fusion with contemporary instruments, extinction, and preservation efforts. Music and dance in Malawi , the interplay of music in the social setup. Issues of identity, music as a people’s movement and a catalyst for life. Dance and tribal heritage. Talents of the Malawian Child Project Mawanga’s personal life (self-discovery) and involvement in projects for social change and economic empowerment. Peter, just like the Nyanjas of Malawi, believes that music goes beyond the ear, reaching out into the inner person to produce a healing power. It is one of the keys to a peaceful mind. Website Peter Mawanga About the Artist ULEMU NDAUPENYA ASAMALA Peter Mawanga Other Works By Related Information View More Art Make More Art ​ View Full Written Work Close Loading Video . . . ​ Download Full Written Work

  • Hope

    satsuki-ichikawa-sky1.jpg Loading Video . . . Photographer Satsuki Ichikawa responds to Romans 8:24-28 and the events of March 11th, 2011 as the final artist in a three-part series featuring artists from Japan. Satsuki Ichikawa, Hope Romans 8:24-28 Hope By Satsuki Ichikawa ​ Credits: ​ Curated by: ​ 2015 ​ ​ ​ Primary Scripture For we were saved in hope, but hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for that which he sees? But if we hope for that which we don’t see, we wait for it with patience. In the same way, the Spirit also helps our weaknesses, for we don’t know how to pray as we ought. But the Spirit himself makes intercession for us with groanings which can’t be uttered. He who searches the hearts knows what is on the Spirit’s mind, because he makes intercession for the saints according to God. We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, to those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:24-28 Share This Art: Facebook X (Twitter) WhatsApp LinkedIn Pinterest Copy Link ​ I chose to make work responding to the theme of hope. As long as we are alive we will experience some suffering and pain, we have been given the written promises of God that the pain and the suffering does not end in despair. In Japan, after the earthquake of March 11th, there are many people who are sad and even now are still suffering in some ways. The first photo represents the feelings of these people – feelings of sorrow, anger and tension. I think it is important to express such struggle and emotions. In the second image the storm has subsided and hope is beginning to be found. In the third image I wanted to express the promise of God that there is no hope that the ends in disappointment. The Sky is a canvas – when we view the sky it seems to comfort us, and it can speak into our minds. People who have lost everything can receive a light of hope. 私は希望をテーマにこの箇所を選びました。私たちは生きている限り時として苦しみや痛みを経験します。けれども聖書はここで、それは失望で終わるのではないという、素晴らしい神の約束が記されています。日本は3.11の地震により、今もなお悲しみ苦しみの中にいる人々が多くいます。 1枚目の写真はそんな苦しみの中にいる人々の心情、悲しみや憤り、葛藤などを表現しています。 2枚目は嵐が静まり、希望を見い出し始めた心。 3枚目はその希望が失望に終わる事がないという神の約束を現しました。 空は私たち人間の心にそっと寄添うように、語りかけます。 希望を失った人々に希望の光が届きますように。 Spark Notes The Artist's Reflection ​ Satsuki Ichikawa is a freelance photographer based in Japan/Korea. She specialises in portraiture and landscapes and has exhibited widely in Japan receiving a Mitsubishi Kodak award in 2004. FB: Twitter: @ichikawasatsuki Website Satsuki Ichikawa About the Artist Satsuki Ichikawa Other Works By Related Information View More Art Make More Art ​ View Full Written Work Close Loading Video . . . ​ Download Full Written Work

  • A Silent Movie: in Poem and Stills

    Loading Video . . . Iv Amenti's 'silent film' contemplates the juxtapositions of reality and dreams, foolishness and wisdom found in Ecclesiastes 5:3. Ecclesiastes 5:3​ A Silent Movie: in Poem and Stills By Iv Amenti ​ Credits: ​ Curated by: Lauren Ferebee 2017 ​ ​ Visual Poetry Primary Scripture Loading primary passage... Loading Passage Reference... Share This Art: Facebook X (Twitter) WhatsApp LinkedIn Pinterest Copy Link ​ Ecclesiastes is one of those books of the Bible that has lodged itself firmly into my psyche. It’s commentary about the boundaries of our humanity, within life and death, time and seasons, and what powers we possess to exist within them, resonates with me on various levels. This year it was particularly relevant because I turned 40, and not just 40, but 40 with a vengeance. If you haven’t crossed this bridge yet, let me tell you, there is something quite definitive about it. I found myself looking at the time that has passed, and the time I have left, you know? If I do the same 40 years I have already done on this earth, I will be brushing against my mortality, and that is an enlightening feeling. What have I done with my time? What will I do with what’s left? Ecclesiastes in its entirety, sobers my mind on what is possible. It takes pressure off as it eludes to the omnipotence of God’s plan and how we must simply show up, ready to work, in order to see the plan unfold. As a girl growing up I was most familiar with Ecclesiastes 3, that speaks specifically to everything having its season. All my life I have methodically gone about how to shape each of my seasons. Something in me has always desired the life of a late bloomer. I made personal choices to hold off on my career so I could grow roots with a family first. I also wanted to take time to get to discover what life looks like as a pioneer, charting my own path. Call me for coffee or tea so I can tell you about my experiences with college and jobs, and what it looks like to stand firm in my own dream to be an artist. Which brings me to my chosen Bible verse, Ecclesiastes 5:3 “ A dream comes when there are many cares, and speech marks the words of a fool.” My project, A Silent Movie: in Poem and Stills , takes a look at a girl busy in her world of dreams, led by a poetic narrative that deconstructs her thoughts on Ecclesiastes 5:3. The project itself is a storyboard for a silent film, – “silent film” being used as a metaphor for the absence speech to communicate words. This was my play towards the reference of speech marking the words of a fool, which during this age of politics, and 24 hour access to social commentary has become our social norm. Interwoven between the images of the girl, (portrayed by me), is a poem which examines her personal relationship with her dreams, her intentions to manifest them, her desires to advocate for humanity through her work, and her words of encouragement for her fellow dreamer. Set in three parts, I sought to visually convey the dreamscape, while rooting my words firmly into the reality of our time. During the process I felt moments of a utopian writer synergized with the original author of this book. I imagined what it must have felt like to be feverishly endowed with spirit, and see a vision so wide as Ecclesiastes. I imagine that all of us that have a vision permeating our being such as the author, must share it. I appreciate the author’s wisdom in knowing that if we are fertile with a dream, so must we be in our willingness to make it happen. Often times, when we are in this place, there is very little time to brag or boast the process, there is only time to do, with brief moments of reflections and edits. This is my ode to such wisdom. The storyboard is shot in the Bishop Arts District located in Dallas, Texas. I first saw this area in back 2015 where there was the most enchanting store with a really cool storefront that had all of these inspirational words and sayings painted on benches and mounted on its walls that beckoned any passerby to take a picture next to it. When I saw it, I knew I had to do a photoshoot there. Fast forward two years later and additional more open space art forms popped up around it, and so did this assignment! I operated as the director and co-photographer on this piece. The shots are not overly professional, but they are personal, and so is this story. As said in the film, I am a native dreamer, and now at 40, after proclaiming for myself that I have the right to be a late bloomer, I have decided that it is my time. I also accept the wisdom not only just of this passage, but of the entire book of Ecclesiastes, to know that as long as I show up, ready to work, that I will surely see the plan specifically designed for me unfold. Amen Spark Notes The Artist's Reflection ​ Iv Amenti is a Creative Social Practitioner residing in the city of Dallas. As a professional dancer, storyteller, writer, actress, and vocalist, she partners with communities to create storytelling opportunities using her various artistic mediums. She prides herself in presenting the performing arts as a platform for social commentary and community engagement in a way that creates voice and identity for communities. She studied theater at the University of Texas at Arlington and is an AmeriCorps alumni who received intensive service training on how to enter into communities, administer asset mapping, and build on those assets in a way that empowers underserved neighborhoods. Through arts and service she has developed a sustainable practice in creative social engineering. Well known for thinking outside of the spectrum when it comes to designing and executing projects, her practice has extended into the likes of the TRANSLATION Project, TWU’ Lend Us Your Voice, BC Workshop’s Activating Vacancy, SMU’s Arts and Urbanism’s Complex Movements Cohort, Bricks and Bones performance Cohort, and St. Philips School and Community Center, to name a few. She is the sole creator of the annual !Felabration Dallas!, a music tribute celebrating the life of famed Nigerian Musician and Activist Fela Kuti. A 16 year veteran on the Community Arts Program roster of Dallas’ Office of Cultural Affairs,2015 Cultural Vitality Award Recipient, and self-proclaimed master collaborator. Website Iv Amenti About the Artist Iv Amenti Other Works By Related Information View More Art Make More Art Part 1: Deconstruction of a Dreamer View Full Written Work Close Loading Video . . . Part 1: Deconstruction of a Dreamer Download Full Written Work

  • Kings&Prophets [chapter13]

    Loading Video . . . We are proud to debut Kings&Prophets [chapter13], a new work by spoken word artist Baraka Noel aka grandmaster mumbles. This piece grew out of the theme "Beginning" and was written in response to the passages listed. Mr. Noel was selected to participate in Spark and Echo Arts’ illumination project by 2012 Curator and poet Emily Hazel. Nahum 3:1 Nahum 3:6 Ecclesiastes 1:2–4 Job 28:3–6 Isaiah 26:17 Malachi 1:10–11 Proverbs 23:33 2 John 1:5 Kings&Prophets [chapter13] By grandmaster mumbles ​ Credits: Words and music by Baraka Noel; Production by Lucas; Photos by Merchants of Reality Curated by: Emily Ruth Hazel 2012 ​ ​ ​ Primary Scripture Loading primary passage... Loading Passage Reference... Share This Art: Facebook X (Twitter) WhatsApp LinkedIn Pinterest Copy Link ​ Nahum 3:1,6 “Woe to the bloody city! it is all full of lies and robbery; the prey departeth not… And I will cast abominable filth upon thee, and make thee vile, and will set thee as a gazingstock.” Spark Notes The Artist's Reflection ​ Baraka Noel aka grandmaster mumbles is a poet, spoken word artist, and creative collaborator living in California. “one of the best traveling poet live acts on the planet.” – illiterate magazine Website grandmaster mumbles About the Artist grandmaster mumbles Other Works By Related Information View More Art Make More Art ​ View Full Written Work Close Loading Video . . . ​ Download Full Written Work

  • Love Awakened: Song of Songs

    Love Awakened 4 2011 Cj Cb 19 Loading Video . . . It was a lovely, warm spring night in NYC for "Love Awakened," Spark and Echo's multi-disciplinary arts event held on April 18th, 2011, at 2 Great Jones in the East Village. Jessica Cermak and Joie Bauer performed as lovers in a theatrical performance of one of history's most beautiful love poems, Song of Songs. This piece was directed by Emily Clare Zempel and featured music written by Jonathon Roberts, performed by Roberts, James Hall, and Matthew Talmage. Complimenting the performance was live painting of a mural in response to the text by Linda Serrone Rolon. Song of Solomon 1:1-5:15 Song of Solomon 6:1-8:14 Love Awakened: Song of Songs By Jessica Cermak and Emily Clare Zempel ​ Credits: Adapted by Emily Clare Zempel and Jessica Cermak Actors: Jessica Cermak, Joie Bauer Directed by Emily Clare Zempel Music by Jonathon Roberts Performers: James Hall, trombone; Jonathon Roberts, piano/vocals; Matthew Talmage, percussion; Emily Clare Zempel, vocals Live Painting by Linda Serrone Rolon Presenter: Carey Wallace Artist Location: New York City Curated by: Emily 2011 ​ ​ ​ Primary Scripture Loading primary passage... Loading Passage Reference... Share This Art: Facebook X (Twitter) WhatsApp LinkedIn Pinterest Copy Link ​ This evening was a collaborative experience that we hope can be replicated at other venues starting with the resources on this page. We found the combination of theater, live painting, music, poetry, and audience response time to be an inspiring way for everyone to experience this remarkable text. If you would like to perform this adaptation of Love Awakened, please contact us . Spark Notes The Artist's Reflection ​ Fellow New York actors and theater makers Jessica Cermak and Emily Clare Zempel have a deep love for classical text and devised theatre. This passion and partnership brought Love Awakened to life. Website Jessica Cermak and Emily Clare Zempel About the Artist Jessica Cermak and Emily Clare Zempel Other Works By Following the performance was a talk by special guest author, Carey Wallace, author of The Blind Contessa's New Machine. Ms. Wallace spoke on the unique qualities of love letters and what makes Song of Songs timeless. Audience members were then given time to write their own expression of love to someone special in their life. It was an exciting evening exploring this beautiful text together through the arts. This evening was a collaborative experience that we hope can be replicated at other venues starting with the resources on this page. If you would like to perform this adaptation of Love Awakened, please contact us . Read the Script Scores: Better Than Wine • Incidental Music • Solomon's Get Ready Song • Set Me As a Seal More photos from the event Excerpt from the Evening: Songs from the production: Extended footage of the evening: Related Information View More Art Make More Art ​ View Full Written Work Close Loading Video . . . ​ Download Full Written Work

  • Word of Mouth

    Loading Video . . . Curator Emily Ruth Hazel responds to the theme of "Water" from Isaiah 55:1-13 in this poem. Isaiah 55:1-13 2 Chronicles 7:13-15 Hosea 6:1-4 Isaiah 29:13 Isaiah 41:17-20 Jeremiah 29:12-14 Word of Mouth By Emily Ruth Hazel ​ Credits: ​ Curated by: Jonathon + Emily 2012 ​ ​ Poetry Primary Scripture Loading primary passage... Loading Passage Reference... Share This Art: Facebook X (Twitter) WhatsApp LinkedIn Pinterest Copy Link ​ “Word of Mouth” is a spoken word piece that echoes and expands upon the words of the Old Testament poet-prophet Isaiah, remixing with a contemporary spin the language and themes in the book of Isaiah. I focused primarily on Chapter 55, a passage that brims over with an exuberant sense of hope and possibility as well as an intimate sense of reassurance. Countering the scarcity mentality that is so contagious today, this passage reads as an invitation to engage with God and to live full lives that aren’t defined by our pasts or by our human limitations. Responding to this in poetic form, my aim was to reimagine how that invitation might translate in contemporary images and colloquial language, and how it could be filtered through the lens of the American cultural context to be understood in fresh ways. I wanted to capture the experiences of everyday people working in a tough economic climate. And I wanted to convey a sense of God coming alongside us—recognizing the contributions of those who may be undervalued, acknowledging the struggles we face, and affirming that change is possible, that we can live with a sense of trust and abundance regardless of our circumstances. While my work as a poet is often closely tied to my personal experiences as an individual, one of my goals with this piece was to explore a wider range of perspectives—including but also reaching beyond my own—to reflect our shared human experience. At the same time, I tried to envision God’s perspective on relationships with people. The creative risk in writing a piece that would essentially put words in God’s mouth felt weighty at times, as did deciding how to translate the tone, but I enjoyed the challenge of pushing past some of the traditional assumptions about God’s interactions with and attitude toward people. I wrote this piece with the hope that listeners would be able to find at least a part of themselves in it. Yet it is also a reflection of the speaker: as a person’s character is revealed through his or her own words, this is meant to be heard as a series of verbal paintings, a collective portrait of a surprisingly approachable, deeply relational, and radically generous God. Following the themes of Isaiah 55, I have kept the imagery of different forms of water flowing throughout the piece—although I have incorporated many other images as well. Water speaks of refreshment and restoration, which tie into the themes of thirst and hunger (physical, emotional, and spiritual) and transformation of landscapes (both natural and internal). The process of writing this piece was a little bit like reupholstering a chair: trying to preserve the beautiful, old frame (i.e., the essential concepts in Isaiah and the feeling of the language in certain places) but also taking some liberties in updating it with a contemporary color and pattern. I didn’t want the fabric of the new piece to completely clash with the preexisting parts. My hope is that the infusion of the new may encourage more people to sit in these words awhile and to appreciate the continuing relevance of the original text. “Word of Mouth” was inspired primarily by Isaiah 55, but Ms. Hazel also drew from other passages in the Old Testament with similar themes. Primary Passage: *Isaiah 55:1-13 Other Passages Incorporated: 2 Chronicles 7:13-15 Hosea 6:1-4 Isaiah 29:13 *Isaiah 41:17-20 Jeremiah 29:12-14 [Words and phrases were borrowed from a few different versions of the passage: the New International Version, New King James version, and The Message, (contemporary paraphrase, in colloquial language).] Spark Notes The Artist's Reflection ​ Emily Ruth Hazel is a poet, writer, and cross-pollinator who is passionate about diversifying the audience for poetry and giving voice to people who have been marginalized. Selected as the Honorary Poet for the 25th Annual Langston Hughes Community Poetry Reading in Providence, Rhode Island, she presented a commissioned tribute to the Poet Laureate of Harlem in February of 2020. She is a two-time recipient of national Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Prizes and was awarded a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship for a residency at The Hambidge Center in 2014. Her chapbook, Body & Soul (Finishing Line Press, 2005) , was a New Women’s Voices finalist. Emily’s work has appeared in numerous anthologies, magazines, literary journals, and digital projects, including Kinfolks: A Journal of Black Expression and Magnolia: A Journal of Women’s Socially Engaged Literature. Her poetry has also been featured on music albums, in a hair salon art installation, and in a science museum exhibition. Emily has written more than twenty commissioned works for organizations, arts productions, social justice projects, and private clients. Currently, she is developing several poetry book manuscripts and writing lyrics for an original musical inspired by the life of the extraordinary singer and Civil Rights icon Marian Anderson. A graduate of Oberlin College’s Creative Writing Program and a former New Yorker, she is now based in the Los Angeles area. Instagram: @EmilyRuthHazel Website Emily Ruth Hazel About the Artist In the Wake of the Storm Circling the Waist of Wisdom Give Me a Name Homecoming Runaway Give Us This Day Undressing Prayer Emily Ruth Hazel Other Works By Related Information View More Art Make More Art Then God leans over the cubicle wall and says, Anyone thirsty? All you nine-to-fivers, View Full Written Work Word of Mouth by Emily Ruth Hazel Then God leans over the cubicle wall and says, Anyone thirsty? All you nine-to-fivers, you coffee-carrying assistants holding together corporate empires— come to the water cooler. I’ll give you something to talk about, more to take home than a paycheck. All you hardworking construction crews standing by the roadside in the shimmer of the noonday heat— come out tonight. Drinks on me! All you underpaid nannies pushing strollers in the park, sweet-talking toddlers into napping so you can gather your thoughts like laundry flung about a bedroom; and all you parents at the water fountain hoisting your children to reach that cool stream, stop and take a sip yourself. All you drought-weary farmers, you who have invested everything tending crops that refuse to grow— come outside, the clouds are hanging heavy. When what you’ve prayed for finally falls, you’ll stand in the fields with your mouths open, echoing the earth’s own sigh of relief as the soil absorbs the long-awaited rain. Come, all you teachers tying knots at the ends of your ropes, all of you buried under lesson plans and papers to correct and ruled by the rosy assumption that catching up grade levels is a simple game of hopscotch, the pressure on you like that which makes diamonds out of coal— And all you college students living on Ramen noodles and PBR, surfing the waves of adrenaline as you cram for exams, struggling to stay upright and wondering if it’s worth it— All you truck drivers saying goodbye to your families again, your headlights pushing back the dark, the radio keeping you company as you watch another midnight disappear in your rearview mirror— All of you deserve a rest. So come, put your work aside, and be refreshed: come with your glasses raised, and I will revive your spirits. I will open the spigot in the cask of the sky. Come on, all you marathon runners at the back of the pack, legs rippling as you limp up Heartbreak Hill, panting, spent, wiping the sting of sweat from your eyes— I’m over here, cheering you on, handing you water and oranges. You who depend on coffee to wake you up and cigarettes to calm you down; you who can’t afford to need favors because of your bad credit; you who are tired of standing on buses, who are on your feet eight hours a day ringing up other people’s groceries and have no budget left for food until next Friday—let your children buy milk without lunch money. Then come, pile your shopping carts high at no charge! Bring home enough to make dinner for friends. * Why labor for what doesn’t satisfy, squandering your energy on what cannot nourish or sustain you? Why waste your hard-earned cash on cotton candy—a momentary pleasure, too sweet, that dissolves on your tongue, leaving you hungrier than you were before? Why do you spend precious dough on what is not bread? I’ve seen you staring into your brightly lit refrigerators, surveying their contents as if they hold your future. I know where you stash the chocolate and the bourbon, self-prescribed remedies for stress, insecurity, exhaustion. I know what you reach for when you’re hungry for approval and something resembling intimacy; when you ache to be coupled, and when you are lost in loneliness even in marriage; when the keen edge of disappointment slices you open; when you can’t seem to wash away the residue of shame under all your failures. You kowtow to the god of your stomach, gorge yourselves and still want more. You fill up on empty calories that spoil your appetite for truth while waiting for the real meal to arrive. I’ve come to offer you something better, to serve you a different kind of comfort food. Come with listening spirits and learn from me how to eat well. Come, enjoy authentic flavors; redefine delicious. I will feed you only the finest ingredients, ripe and in season, organically grown. Come to the wedding banquet: let your soul delight in the gifts of abundance. Come hungry, and receive a clean plate every time you ask. Come shameless with your Tupperware ready for leftovers. * Listen closely, you whose ears have been clogged, your inner ears inflamed, a tiny, restless ocean trapped inside— and you who have turned on the white noise of the television, pretending not to hear me, so sure that I would hurl a harsh word at you or misjudge who you are. I understand the pain of being misunderstood: you think you know me, but when was our last conversation? How many times have I tried to reach you and you have not answered? You have felt the pulsing in your pocket and ignored it. Sometimes you listen for a second, then hang up quickly, thinking there isn’t a real person on the other end, just some recorded message that’s irrelevant to you. Or you hear a voice, and you assume it’s someone trying to sell you something you don’t want, or a prank call that you’re not about to fall for —the way you prank call heaven when you say, Oh my God— but it’s me on the line. How can you not recognize the voice of one who loves you? Even now, if you call me while the phone is still warm in my hand, I’ll answer on the first ring. If you seek me out, you will find me; I won’t play hard to get. * Come to me, you who are out of gas, you whose lives are on layaway, whose hearts have gone bankrupt, whose faith has run dry— you who have searched for yourselves as if you were lost coins in between couch cushions; and you who have tossed pennies in a fountain of hope, only to see it be drained for the season, its springs uneternal after the first freeze. You whose lights have been shut off, who have boarded up the windows of your souls as if your bodies were deserted houses— you stumble around unseeing; your glasses are useless. You bark your shins and blame me, but it’s you who have closed your eyes. Come, open the curtains over your calloused hearts, and I will pay off your back bills, restore your power, and give you new lenses to look through. * Let the runaways return to me— the parent who waits by the window, heartsick, who catches a glimpse of the child staggering home, rehearsing apologies, and abandons all dignity, sprints to embrace the one whose wandering heart has wounded— the God who goes beyond forgiveness, the God who knows how to throw a party. Come back to me, the God who leaves the light on for you, even when I know you won’t be home tonight. My offer stands even for the cruel and corrupt, the calculating buzzards—let them come and have their criminal records shredded, throw to the curb their crooked ways of getting by, the stained and broken chairs and itch-infested mattresses with which they once furnished their lives. Let them leave behind the stench of their old garbage baking in the sun and travel light as they take a new road. What can I say? If I look like a fool for spreading such a lavish feast of love before those who are bound to crush me again under their retreating heels, it is simply because I am a God who longs, like you, for something more, weak with desire to lean close, to be known. You who sit in the back and stand on the fringes, thinking no one sees you— when you turn toward me, even the slightest shift, I notice. And when you speak to me, be it a yell or a whisper, I will listen. I linger in the hallway, hoping to be let in. You open the door, then close it again, unlock the deadbolt, but won’t take off the chain. I reach for you, and my hand is caught in the hinge of your indecision. Yet I am committed to you, my faithfulness founded on bedrock— a love that is built to endure disaster, not a flimsy model of affection constructed with Popsicle sticks but a love that is high and wide, fortified, strong enough to shelter you. Your love is like the morning mist, like the early dew that disappears. Still, I wring my heart out for you, drench you in a deluge of grace while you dabble in the shallows. You talk a good line, but your words are made of lace. Your fingers are always in some other pie. But if you will acknowledge me with more than the occasional nod in my direction, if you’re ready for honest conversations, if you will humbly offer yourselves as living prayers, and turn from your unfaithful ways, then I will hear from heaven and forgive you. I will take you back, gather you into my arms: you will be my people, and I will be your God. If you let me, I will set your broken bones, clean your wounds, smooth healing ointment over all the places you’ve been burned. * I’m calling from the other side of night. If you choose me, I will bring you out of hiding— out of a life of crouching and ducking your head, enslaved by fear and cycles of destruction— out through trap doors, secret gates, alleys, and back roads. No yanking by the collar or twisting of arms. You will go forth in peace, and I will lead you— not into a beige, uninspired life, but into an adventure, the kind that keeps you guessing with every turn of the page. I will make your minds more spacious. When you cross over into free country, you’ll run with your arms wide open, leaping and shouting like children, unselfconscious. Even the wallflowers will bloom— closet dancers, those who save their singing for the shower—people from all walks of life, everyone who has tasted this freedom, joining together in a parade of praise. Mountains and hills and the birds that nest among them will burst into colorful song, all creation celebrating your return, your going forward new. You’ll hear my Spirit rustling through the trees; my breath will fill you as it fills the spaces in between the leaves. * You whose lives are like seltzer gone flat, reduced to an endless, meaningless to-do list, I will surprise you with joy that comes bubbling up from the bottom— the kind of joy that sneaks up on you like a hug from behind while you’re leaning over the sink washing dishes, or responding to a flood of business emails, water to be bailed out of your basement. And when you welcome me into the everyday mess, the peace I give you will not be the kind that sits smugly at an empty desk with its hands serenely folded, but the kind that sidles up unexpectedly in the midst of jackhammers and traffic and your partner’s latest rant and your boss’s overwhelming expectations and the children bickering in the dark when they’re supposed to be asleep and the unknown results from a blood test, the worry that gnaws on the edge of your mind. I will show you how to stand in the middle of it all, in a circle of calm, like the shade of a live oak planted in a busy intersection. * My work is a mystery to you: you can sow seeds, but only I can make them grow. The way a new life forms in the womb of a woman is to you a wonder beyond words. So how could you fully grasp all that I am preparing to birth within the hidden places of your hearts? My thoughts see farther than your thoughts, and my ways diverge from yours. My slowest thoughts drive faster than light, less than a breadth apart on cloverleaf interchanges, and never collide. My ideas fly seamless figure-eights miles above you, the infinity sign my signature in the sky. My dreams for you are far beyond what you have dared to imagine. * For the moment, your mouths are parched; you beg for water, finding none. But I won’t leave you thirsty. I am the one who knows your need before the word is on your tongue. As surely as the sun rises, I will appear; as surely as the spring rains come, after winter, I will come to you. I will open up rivers on the barren hills, the heights of desolation; I will change nature’s course and break the laws of gravity for you. I will make springs flow in the valleys, turn the desert into pools of water. Instead of stumbling into poison ivy, you will find the cooling balm of aloe. Instead of toiling like Adam after exile from Eden, only to force thorns and thistles from the ground— instead of a briar patch of curses to claw your way out of, torn and bleeding— instead, you’ll discover a field of blessing, orchards and vineyards, gardens overflowing with flowers. Where only scraggly desert scrub would grow, myrtle will flourish—each fragrant, white blossom exploding with beauty, pollen-dusted stamens shooting from the center like a spray of light. Myrtle will cure your infections, clear the airways so you can breathe again, protect the lining of your health so easily eaten away by anxiety. In the wilderness through which you’ve walked I will cultivate promise. With my bare hands I will uproot the thorn bushes, and in their place plant strong and stately trees: cypress, to stand as thousand-year testimonies, green through all the seasons; olive and acacia; sweet-smelling juniper and pine; redwoods towering in majesty, drawing your eyes to me. Cedars and sequoias will thrive, evidence of transformation in what was once a wasteland. I will write my name across this new creation just as I have inscribed your hearts, so that everyone may know whose work it is—that I, God, am the one who has accomplished this, who has bent impossibility backwards like a wire coat hanger, reviving the landscapes of your lives. Those who know you will recognize the change. Even strangers will come to you with questions, seeing in you the spark of the Spirit. * As the snow that slowly descends the escalator of the sky and does not ascend again until there is a thaw; and as the rain that showers the earth does not evaporate before it soaks in, trickles down below the surface, and waters the deepest roots; so the words of my mouth go out to the people in every part of the world—winged words sent out like homing pigeons, tiny scrolls tied around their ankles. They cannot land without leaving an impression in the sand, and they will not return to me without delivering the message of hope. My promises are never void; backed by the treasury of heaven, the checks I write will never bounce. And wherever you are, my words will run ahead of you to open the door when you arrive. From my lips to your ears, this is news to quench your soul, an invitation to be passed on. This is grace— not something you can buy bottled, but something to be shared, a cupful at a time. And as a paper cup that holds cold water is passed from hand to hand, these words are for you, the thirsty ones sitting in the back. Close Loading Video . . . Then God leans over the cubicle wall and says, Anyone thirsty? All you nine-to-fivers, Download Full Written Work

  • Visitation

    Loading Video . . . Dancer Elizabeth Dishman's rich performance reflects on the exchange between the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon as recorded in 1 Kings 10:1-10. 1 Kings 10:1-10 Visitation By Elizabeth Dishman ​ Credits: Directed, filmed and edited by Elizabeth Dishman Collaboratively choreographed by Elizabeth Dishman and the performers: Julie Seal, with Larissa Asebedo and Corinne Shearer Music by Giuseppe Sammartini, recorded by Camerata Köln Curated by: Spark & Echo Arts, Self-Submitted 2016 ​ ​ ​ Primary Scripture Loading primary passage... Loading Passage Reference... Share This Art: Facebook X (Twitter) WhatsApp LinkedIn Pinterest Copy Link ​ I’ve always been fascinated by this passage…a big time queen decides to play tourist and ends up getting the wind knocked out of her. She had heard rumors but was totally unprepared for the wisdom, beauty and richness she would experience in Jerusalem. She came to test Solomon with hard questions, but instead she can’t even breathe for wonder. I know the feeling. I was born with my arms crossed. I make up my mind about life’s hard edges, but I am more often than I’d like to admit humbled by its greatness, its kindness, the purity of delight that is available to me, but which I doubt or resist. In this work I meditated on that moment of confusion when a belief is tested and found to be shifty. When a deeper truth asks to sit down at the table. The conversation is awkward and glorious. Spark Notes The Artist's Reflection ​ Elizabeth Dishman is the Artistic Director of Dishman + Co. Choreography, a Brooklyn-based experimental dance company founded in 2001. Originally from Colorado, she studied Voice Performance at Emory University, and Choreography at The Ohio State University. In pursuit of ineffable junctures between the abstract and theatrical, the universal and deeply personal, Elizabeth and her collaborators devote themselves to scrupulous exploration and ardent play, probing the elusiveness of live performance in search of lasting things. Over 15 years and 40+ original works, Dishman + Co.’s choreography has been described by critics as “complex skeins and cerebral dreams”, “bodies in rigorous concentration”, and “playful and provocative…raw humanity seeps in”. Website Elizabeth Dishman About the Artist Tide dance in the dances Terra Firma Stranger Name Elizabeth Dishman Other Works By Related Information View More Art Make More Art ​ View Full Written Work Close Loading Video . . . ​ Download Full Written Work

  • Artist in Residence 2017: Lily Maase

    Loading Video . . . 2017 Artist in Residence Lily Maase presents her nearly-completed song cycle, Buried in Wicked Light inspired by Revelations 9:10-20; 11:3-7; Isaiah 8:11; Proverbs 4:23. Proverbs 4:23 Isaiah 8:11 Revelations 9:10-20 Revelations 11:3-7 Artist in Residence 2017: Lily Maase By Lily Maase This album contains some strong language, references to violence, and allusions to drug use, and may not be suitable for all audiences. Discretion is advised. Credits: Composed, Written, and Performed By Lily Maase. 2017 Curated by: Spark & Echo Arts, Artist in Residence 2017 ​ ​ ​ Primary Scripture Loading primary passage... Loading Passage Reference... Share This Art: Facebook X (Twitter) WhatsApp LinkedIn Pinterest Copy Link ​ Buried in Wicked Light is a rock opera about standing tall at the end of the world. It is a series of love letters—from the author to herself and others, and from the author's mother to her memory of herself as a little girl. Written in loving remembrance of my father Steve Maase, and in witness to what we lived through when I was young. I am a grown woman now. I wish you were here to see whatever happens next. Spark Notes The Artist's Reflection ​ Lily Maase is a rock, country, jazz and classical guitarist raised in New Mexico, educated at the University of North Texas, and living in Brooklyn, New York. She is contributing writer for Premier Guitar Magazine and has contributed to Guitar World and Guitar World’s Acoustic Nation, who recently lauded her as a “master guitar teacher.” She is the founder and owner of Brooklyn GuitarWorks, a workshop-oriented center for guitar and bass guitar education located in Williamsburg. Lily is the lead guitarist, musical director and bandleader with the Rocket Queens all-female tribute to Guns N Roses and the Suite Unraveling (Tzadik). She is the lead guitarist with Gato Loco, and is endorsed by Godin Guitars. Her playing has been featured by,, Guitar World’s Acoustic Nation, Teen Vogue, and Elle Magazine. Website Lily Maase About the Artist Look Out Below Lily Maase Other Works By Read the complete set of lyrics to Buried in Wicked Light . Follow Lily's project's development throughout the year by reading her previous first, second and third posts. Related Information View More Art Make More Art ​ View Full Written Work Close Loading Video . . . ​ Download Full Written Work

  • No One is Born Hating Another Person

    Loading Video . . . Iranian composer Niloufar Nourbakhsh explores the poles of love and hate and the paradoxical existence of prophecy from Joel 3:17. Joel 3:17 No One is Born Hating Another Person By Niloufar Nourbakhsh ​ Credits: ​ Curated by: Aaron Beaumont 2017 ​ ​ ​ Primary Scripture “So you will know that I am Yahweh, your God, dwelling in Zion, my holy mountain. Then Jerusalem will be holy, and no strangers will pass through her any more. Joel 3:17 Share This Art: Facebook X (Twitter) WhatsApp LinkedIn Pinterest Copy Link ​ The moment the promise fulfills, the verse stops serving the purpose it has served or was intended to serve for long centuries. The prophecy is therefore intertwined with its counter-promise: If it would actualize, it would become a description of the past. Since a prophecy cannot become a description of the past, it is not to be actualized. The paradox however does not dissuade the promised. Through hate, as the only mean to glory and the Holy, shall the promise be met. And through pursuing hate, the promised reduces the being to US against THEM. And it was only through pursuing hate that its absurdity appeared. That it was recognized that once it is all reduced to the unbounded hate, all shall remain is ruins. This absurdity, provides a rare chance for US to open our eyes to the supposedly obvious: The pursuit of happiness is to be followed through not hate, but love. Spark Notes The Artist's Reflection ​ Described as “stark” by WNPR, Iranian composer Niloufar Nourbakhsh ‘s music has been commissioned and performed by Symphony Number One, Women Composers Festival of Hartford, Pianist Erika Dohi for Metropolis Ensemble Piano Series, Calidore String Quartet and Cassatt String Quartet at numerous festivals including Atlantic Music Festival, Seal Bay Festival of American Chamber Music, New Paltz Piano Summer, SPLICE institute, New Music for String and Stony Brook Chamber Music Festival and more. Nilou is a strong advocate of music education. She has worked as the site coordinator of Brooklyn Middle School Jazz Academy sponsored by Jazz at Lincoln Center. She is currently a Teaching Artist for post grad composition students of NY Philharmonic Young Composers program. Nilou is a Global Citizen Scholarship recipient of Goucher College as well as a Mahoney and Caplan Scholar from University of Oxford. Among her teachers are Lisa Weiss, Laura Kaminsky, Sheila Silver and Daria Semegen. She is currently pursuing her Doctorate degree in music composition at Stony Brook University under the supervision of Daniel Weymouth. Website Niloufar Nourbakhsh About the Artist Niloufar Nourbakhsh Other Works By Related Information View More Art Make More Art ​ View Full Written Work Close Loading Video . . . ​ Download Full Written Work

  • A few concerns concerning the second coming

    Loading Video . . . We are pleased to release a new composition by musician Meaghan Burke, a response to Jesus' foretelling of his second coming in Matthew 24 in which he describes to his the disciples that all the horrors of war and famine will be a mere prelude to the sorrows of the apocalypse ‚Äì only "the beginning of birth pangs." Matthew 24:1-14 A few concerns concerning the second coming By Meaghan Burke ​ Credits: ​ Curated by: James Hall 2012 ​ ​ ​ Primary Scripture Loading primary passage... Loading Passage Reference... Share This Art: Facebook X (Twitter) WhatsApp LinkedIn Pinterest Copy Link ​ This image of birth led me to imagine the chagrin that earth must feel to be told that all the catastrophes it suffers, from earthquakes to civil war, are nothing in comparison to what will come. I envisoned the earth as a mother unable to believe that, after suffering over and over and over again, there is any suffering left to spare. The song alternates between the perspective of this weary world, forced to destroy the children it has borne, and that of a human being, with the very human concerns of being separated from those she loves (“what if I am taken and you are left?”) and being deceived by the so-called “false prophets” (“what if I see Him where I’m not supposed to?”). The final chorus asks, simply, in an anguished bluesy lament, why anyone or anything would build such a beautiful thing as this world, only to destroy it. Spark Notes The Artist's Reflection ​ Meaghan Burke ’s debut album Other People’s Ghosts (for cello and voice) sounds like what would happen if if Jacqueline Du Pré were raised on rock and roll, and folk, and cabaret, and blues, and free jazz, and spent too long in Vienna. Or if Tom Waits picked up the cello, drank several pots of coffee, and had a sex change. Whatever that means. Above all, Other People’s Ghosts is about stories – of bedbugs, of bedfellows, of things like love – and Burke’s rich yet vulnerable, smoky-toned voice and deep, growling cello keep these stories playing over and over in our heads long after the last track is finished. Website Meaghan Burke About the Artist Meaghan Burke Other Works By Related Information View More Art Make More Art ​ View Full Written Work Close Loading Video . . . ​ Download Full Written Work

  • Spirit of God-The Spirit Hovering

    nicora-gangi_2013-air-1_spirit-of-god-the-spirit-hovering.jpg Loading Video . . . A prolific artist, Nicora Gangi responds to the theme of "Light and Darkness" from Genesis 1:2 in her first work created for a collection inspired by each of the six themes for the year as a 2013 Artist in Residence. Genesis 1:2 Spirit of God-The Spirit Hovering By Nicora Gangi ​ Credits: ​ Curated by: Spark+Echo Arts, 2013 Artist in Residence 2013 19 x 25 inches ​ Pastel on Canson Paper Primary Scripture Loading primary passage... Loading Passage Reference... Share This Art: Facebook X (Twitter) WhatsApp LinkedIn Pinterest Copy Link ​ The Spirit of God is the first mover; He moved upon the face of the waters. Herein is hope: the Spirit of God begins to work. And if he works who will hinder? God's Spirit moved upon the deep; He is the fountain of life and spring of motion. The first of all visible things the Lord God created was light. Not that He Himself needs to see in order to work, for the darkness and the light are the same to Him. Rather, He created it that by it we may see His works and His glory in them. "For the one that practices the truth, comes to the light that his deeds may be manifest as having been founded in God." (John 3:21) Spark Notes The Artist's Reflection ​ Nicora Gangi was educated at Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York, USA (BFA 1974 and MFA 1976). She was a Professor of Art at Syracuse University for 29 years. Gangi has been awarded many Grand Prize and First Place awards and grants. She has been and continues to be published in numerous artist’s books on pastel paintings. She has lectured regionally and nationally as a visiting artist at universities and artist’s guilds. She is represented by: Edgewood Gallery (Syracuse, NY), and Gangi Studio (Winter Garden, FL ). Website Nicora Gangi About the Artist This One The Body without the Spirit | 1 The Body without the Spirit | 2 The Body without the Spirit | 3 The Sealed Ones Peace with God The Everlasting Protective Love of God Our Father So Shall Your Descendants Be I See Him but Not Now The Mountain of the House of The Lord Paneled and Ruins Series The Harvest Memories Lies Fool Dance Your Truth from the Great Congregation Psalm 18 Sound of Their Wings Psalm 16 Kiss the Son EAST, WEST, NORTH & SOUTH AT HIS TABLE Nicora Gangi Other Works By Nicora Gangi created a collection of mixed media works in response to scripture and the six themes of the year as a 2013 Artist in Residence. Explore her works created throughout the year: Spirit of God – The Spirit Hovering (This piece) Light and Darkness (February 4, 2013) Fool Fools (April 13, 2013) Dance Dancing (June 13, 2013) Lies Lies (August 22, 2013) The Harvest Harvest (October 17, 2013) Memories Memory (December 12, 2013) Related Information View More Art Make More Art ​ View Full Written Work Close Loading Video . . . ​ Download Full Written Work

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