Art and Transformation

February 24, 2009 at 11:21 am 2 comments

Rhonda Stokes the Fire

Rhonda Stokes the Fire

Last week in my Personal Transformation class we talked about the transforming nature of recognizing our creative nature as human beings created in the image of the creator God. As part of our learning we learned about Anagama kilns and participated in the process of fueling an Anagama kiln near Forest Grove, OR. A continuous supply of fuel is needed for firing, as wood thrown into the hot kiln is consumed very rapidly. Stoking occurs round the clock until an appropriate temperature is reached.

Rhonda Gets her Stripes

Rhonda Gets her Stripes

We each had the opportunity to throw firewood into the kiln and then were initiated. They had us say something like, “I initiate you into the brotherhood of the Anagama Warriors.” Well, there were a few of us sisters that decided to change the initiation – and Rhonda started it all! Rhonda was initiated into the “sisterhood” but decided to go a step further when it was my turn as she initiated me into “this group of people doing things with fire.”

The Marks of an Anagama Warrior

The Marks of an Anagama Warrior

We were near the end of the line and after the pronouncement of initiation, the person who had tossed the wood just prior would take soot from the door of the kiln and mark the newly initiated with a stripe of soot on the cheeks. Well, Rhonda likes to mix things up, so she decided to not only change the words of the initiation rite but to use TWO fingers to mark me up with soot! Rhonda offered a great example for me, so I marked up the next person initiated them into the Anagama Warriorhood with as much soot as possible. With our continuous efforts of fueling the fire we were able to help achieve the much desired temperature in the kiln and Mark Terry, our Anagama instructor and Assistant Professor of Art at George Fox University.

My Anagama Warrior Look

My Happy Warrior Look

Rhonda's Anagama Warrior Look

Rhonda's Anagama Warrior Look

In our learning, I was reminded of some of my prior learning on the topic of art in relation to our faith and spiritual development. Here’s a piece I wrote that encapsulates some of my thinking and learning that has been reinforced through this experience with the Anagama Kiln.

Where is art in the Christian heart,
Is there only faith or is science a part?
Why discrete spaces inside our being,
Why separate our ways of thinking and seeing?
God’s people have feared what art can do
Thinking a picture, a sculpture – taboo!
Some even will go so far as to say:
All your instruments, put them away!
Somehow we believed that reason is king
No more sensing, perceiving, or even feeling
Keep your feet on the ground, is said to the young man
Whose imagination is dying to give voice to his pain
In the realms of the unseen we find healing and hope
We find kindred spirits to help us cope
The Word made flesh still dwells among us
To create, restore, inspire and release us.
When the Spirit of God unites with a soul
We become free, our inner being made whole
But what of this freedom, is it only in our minds?
Or are we free to create and express the divine?
Our imagination should fly beyond the stars
Creating ways to break through prison bars
Imagination – it’s not just make-believe
But the tool of understanding to help us receive
Truth that comes not by reason or argument
But by intuition and perceiving not logic or judgment.
Can we open our spirit, our body, our soul
And allow Jesus to make us whole –
Whole in our thinking of faith and art
Whole in our acting like God’s people with heart.
God, restore to us all that you have given
May we think about art here on earth as in heaven.

Anagama Kiln Fired Pieces

Anagama Kiln Fired Pieces


Entry filed under: art, creativity, faith, imagination, incarnational.

Influential or Inspirational or Both? Time to Write


  • 1. cindyinsd  |  February 25, 2009 at 10:43 pm

    What a great experience for you, Elizabeth! I’m jealous. I’d love to participate in an anagama firing. And such beautiful pieces. Great poem, too.

    You’re right. We’ve too long sought to divorce our right brain from our left. God gave us both, as well as a new heart when we believe, with which to hear from His Spirit and to know the mind of Christ. His voice to us comes through our mind, but it originates in the communication of our spirit with His Spirit, with Whom we are made one. He’s so good.

    Grace and peace, Cindy

  • 2. Elizabeth Chapin  |  February 26, 2009 at 9:10 am

    Cindy, it was a great experience though I wish I could be there when they unload the kiln after the firing!

    If you want to read a good book on the body/brain/emotions topic I would recommend A General Theory of Love.

    Thanks for your interaction here on this blog. You are a constant encouragement to me.

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