Jason Leith – Part 3

making new friends faces drawn on finger tipsEveryday Icons

Our main project in both Spain and Berlin was called Everyday Icons. It was one of the main ways worked with Saddleback Berlin’s creative community in how they could use the arts to make the church more beautiful and reach out to the city. Everyday Icons showed people that their lives have value by drawing their portraits to show their identity as children of God.

It began with a large freestanding frame, seven feet tall and anywhere between seven and fourteen feet wide, placed in a populated public space, in the streets or in a park. The canvas was transparent plastic, so that artists could work from both sides. The frame was composed from recycled materials and junk we had found locally in the city. Even before we began painting, the setup was a spectacle.

But then we’d begin drawing. Someone would ask, “Hey, what are you guys doing here?” and we’d say, “We’re drawing portraits of people we meet here. Do you want to have yours done?” Usually, they’d say yes, surprised that it was free. We would draw their portrait there on a transparent wall, looking into their eyes, capturing the details of their expression.

After the initial marker drawing is when the magic began. They’d get to step back and watch another artist come and paint a colorful halo behind their head, making the portrait pop with color. Then another artist would come and write words of truth and encouragement around their face, such as “Your dreams are important,” “Spirit of Boldness,” or “Lover of Truth.”  Then another would come and paint gold onto the section of the recycled picture frame nearest to their finished portrait. The junk was turned into something precious and beautiful.

And all while this was happening, Cody would be playing the custom beats he had created, or rapping for the crowd that stood watching. Or Megan would be playing guitar and singing. This gave the place atmosphere and energy. It became an experience of sight, sound, and conversation.

After about two hours, the frame begins to fill with these dignified portraits of people we met on the street that day. Anywhere between fifteen and thirty faces all drawn on the same canvas. We draw connecting lines that give them unity, all the while, placing them all around one central image. This image could be a hand with a key or three gold circles, all representing God at the center who gives us life.

Everyday Icons was more than a way to start conversation. It was an affirmation of their value and worth in God’s eyes as shown through the eyes of His people, our team. The locals got to see that message unfold before their eyes and, if they chose, be a part of that message. It was the message that our lives have value and purpose. Even when we see our lives as worthless, meaningless, God takes us into his family, speak words of love over us, saints us, and gives us purpose.

We executed Everyday Icons four times between Spain and Berlin.

So many walls go down when you get to put away the written document that explain Christianity through logic and share the gospel through an art piece that speaks to the heart.

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