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What is… The Arts Group?

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Tyler Rogness is a Woodland Hills Covenant Partner, a contributor to weekend art elements, a poet, and the volunteer leader of Woodland’s Arts Group. We asked Tyler to fill us in on how the Arts Group works and what it’s all about.

What is the Arts Group?
The arts group is a space for open conversation, collective artistic exploration and grace. My hope is it becomes a place where we can link arms to encourage and sharpen each other as sub-creators made in the image of a creative God.

What kind of things does the group do?
Grateful Heart is our main event in the fall: a time for words, music, images and delicious pie. It’s a gathering where we get to share creative work with the greater Woodland Hills community.

We also did a recent book study on Andrew Peterson’s Adorning the Dark. It is a deeper dive into questions around creativity, faith, and the interplay between the two. I saw this as a conversation starter, and a chance to start bringing our fellow sub-creators together to encourage and challenge each other in our creative work.

What’s this upcoming Arts Group Night?
If Adorning the Dark started the conversation, Arts Group Night is a continuation of it. This is an opportunity for fellow creatives to come together at the intersection of faith and art and talk about the road we’re on. It’s a chance to share and celebrate the work coming out of the community and to encourage each other in the work.

Why does art matter in the church?
Art requires us to step back from the way we’ve always seen things and consider them from a new perspective; and that goes for work we create ourselves, as well. There’s something deeply incarnational about creative work: taking an idea or a feeling and putting word or image or shape to it; something both deeply human and deeply divine about the process. Even more beautiful are those times we get to come alongside each other, and have our art – our hearts – seen and acknowledged and appreciated by others. In community our art is made into more than it could have been alone. It’s learning to love – and be loved – together.

What kind of artists do we have at Woodland?
All kinds. Writers. Painters. Poets. Photographers. Musicians. Dancers. Potters. Collage-ers. Composers. And I’m just scratching the surface.

What is your vision for art and the Kingdom?
Gerard Manley Hopkins begins the poem “God’s Grandeur” with the words, “The earth is charged with the grandeur of God. / It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;” and he later says, “There lives the dearest freshness deep down things.” I go back to these lines when I need a reminder of why I try to tease beauty out of my own pen. It reminds me of the depth of this world and the beauty of this life we’re living even in the midst of the chaos of the age and the grind of the years. This is also about coming alongside others who are doing the same and to say, “Hey, I see what you’re doing. And it’s good. Let’s make something even more beautiful together.”

How can we incorporate art as worship in our own lives?
Slowly. I can only speak confidently about poetry, but I think it goes for any art form. To really take something in and appreciate it requires us to slow our frantic pace. Find a painting or a photograph that you like without knowing why, and spend time answering that “why.” Pick up a book of poetry and take weeks to chew on the words. The different perspectives we encounter will shape and sharpen us as we take them to Christ and let him mold them in us.

Anything else you want to add?
For anyone feeling the desire to create but also the overwhelm of comparison, create anyway. You have your own ground to tend, your own style, your own experiences, your own voice that you bring to the table. Be a student of your craft, and give yourself the grace to not be the best. Do it because you love it, and sooner or later you’ll find a garden growing under your feet.

If you’d like to learn more about the Arts Group, there’s information on our website here, or you can email arts@whchurch.org. And don’t miss our Arts Group Night coming up on Monday, July 31 – please RSVP so we can plan refreshments!

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