Congregational Aesthetics – beyONd our walls (3/3)

In this short blog series I’ve been exploring this question: What is the aesthetic profile of your congregation. Otherwise put: What do the artwork and architecture and liturgical accoutrements of your congregation reveal about its faith and identity? And how do they shape your faith and discipleship?

In my first post I explored how we might respond to the artistic heritage passed down to us from earlier generations. In the second post I considered the importance of contemporary, artistic expressions of faith in our IMG_2868worship and community spaces. Now in this final post I want to push us out of the church building, into the wider community.

Too often the church has thought of itself in terms of a fairly strict separation from the world. The church has failed to identify with the world – it has failed to live for the world, in the world.

While we have to think about these issues carefully (theologically speaking), I’m of the view that we can and must conceive a much more porous boundary between church and world. This doesn’t mean watering down faith convictions, but it will require transforming mindsets and structures and programs – and in ways we may not yet be able to imagine. Such transformations must be defined precisely by our life for the world and in the world, since this is the only life that we can possibly embody in faithfulness to the one who is our life – Jesus Christ.

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What holds us together? (Urban Art 003) #ndg #diversity

So we’re back to the theme of urban art in NDG. In this neighbourhood urban art (socially and politically approved) has been a spreading phenomenon. In this post I’m looking briefly at a mural that fills a wall at the corner of Cavendish and Somerled – it is the wall of Antico Martini restaurant, next to the gas station. This mural is really in my neck of the woods – we live a few blocks west. Here’s the mural:


The colours of this piece are earthy and rich – the greens and yellows and browns capture attention without being stark. This isn’t urban art that screams out for attention. Rather, it sits comfortably and even nonchalantly on the corner – it beautifies without being in your face. Which isn’t true of all urban art!

This piece was created by MU, which is non-profit organization in Montreal dedicated to public art – both to supporting artists and to social development within the city. On its website, MU describes this mural (called Diversitree) as follows: Continue reading

Reaching for an identity (Urban Art 002) #OurLadyOfGrace

I was at a recent meeting of the Borough Council for my neighbourhood of Côte-des-neiges/Notre-dame-de-Grâce, at which the council approved a new mural for a building up in the northern wastelands of Snowdon (at least I think that’s where it is). The counsellor for that district, Marvin Rotrand, made a point of saying that he would approve the mural since the building owner had approved it, but that he didn’t think much of it as a piece of art.

Rotrand went on to say something to this effect: “It’s kind of like that mural on Sherbrooke Street west – I don’t think it’s too impressive. I’m not sure why people call it art.” Here’s the mural that Rotrand was referring to – just three blocks over from Kensington church:


As with the graffiti art (word art) on the side wall of the Akhavan market, the group that completed this mural has very real artistic skill. It is a carefully executed urban-art variation on the works of Alphonse Mucha, a Czech artist from the first part of the last century who inspired the art nouveau movement. Mucha’s own style is almost immediately recognizable, and is recognizable in this mural. Much of his work has a definite ‘decorative arts’ feel – as if it belongs on a large panel in a living room or in lobby of a theatre in the early to mid 1900’s. The team that created the mural (the A’Shop) did their research and went successfully beyond what was a natural fit for them in terms of style and content. Continue reading