Art Teacher Creates an Art Piece for Upper School Chapel

“This fall, Mr. Short asked me to speak in Chapel during our series on the book of James.  I was honored by the request and excited about the topic I was assigned:  Wisdom.  As I prayed over the message, I knew that I wanted to implement a creative element that would capture our student’s attention.  A captivating story, visual, or token can often help students retain what they heard and remember what God was pressing on their hearts that day.  So in the initial stages of writing my sermon, I reached out to our High School Art teacher, Ms. Janine Strickland, and asked her if she would be willing to share a piece of artwork for use during the upcoming Chapel. 

When Ms. Strickland asked about the premise of the message, I was still formulating the details, so I shared this big idea:  God is the creator of wisdom… therefore He is the owner and keeper of this great gift… and the reason why James 1:5 directs us to ask God for wisdom when we need it.  

Ms. Strickland (Left) and Mrs. Wright (Right)

With only a month before the message was scheduled, I was hoping that Ms. Strickland would simply share an existing piece of artwork or something simple like a canvas with the word “Wisdom” on it. The artwork was meant to be an analogy for students.  Just like Ms. Strickland was the creator of this painting and therefore its owner, wisdom must belong to God since He is its creator.  We cannot fabricate true wisdom from our own intelligence or experience, but instead must humbly approach our loving Heavenly Father and ask Him to give this gift generously.  

You can imagine how blown away I was when I saw what Ms. Strickland had created in her own free time for this Chapel message.  Her painting displayed incredible artistic talent and was large enough for a true stage presence when displayed in our Chapel auditorium.  But when I read her artist’s statement for the piece, that was when I was truly floored.  Ms. Strickland and I had not communicated the contents of my message on Wisdom outside of the brief “big idea” that I had shared a month earlier. 

Throughout that month, I prayed over my message often and it took shape over a series of weekends as I edited and honed what I felt God wanted me to share.  During this same time frame, Ms. Strickland was praying over her canvas and asking God how to display this valuable virtue of wisdom through a visual medium.  When we paired our two pieces together, they matched perfectly!  Throughout the entirety of my spoken message, I was able to point out intricate details of the painting and refer to Ms. Strickland’s artist statement to emphasize the message.  The painting is currently displayed in our upper school hallways to remind students of the message they heard that day.

I’m so grateful for a school where we invite God into each detail.  Our teachers pray over their classrooms and lessons… our administrators pray over decisions and direction… our staff prays over every student… our parents pray over our hallways.  When we invite God into our school, He shows up and at Christian Life School, we are continually blessed by His faithfulness!

– Carrie Wright, Upper School Principal

As I prayed over the gift of Wisdom and contemplated how to illustrate the moments of opening one’s heart in humble submission to Christ, request of and gift received while in communion with God; I too made a request and asked for His guidance… His wisdom. I chose to communicate the conscious act of a quiet moment in prayer. The padlock heart is openly displaying the intentional choice to surrender, allowing Christ to work within and the light illuminated in mind through the very same Key that unlocks the heart. I intentionally chose to limit the color palette, choosing only to add hints of warm gold to the symbols representing Christ’s presence within. He is not only the key to our heart; He is the key to our understanding. While the world may believe that wisdom is simply knowledge of the mind, we as followers of Christ will find that His gift of wisdom includes understanding and knowledge that flows from both the heart and mind (1 Corinthians 1:30 & Colossians 2:2-3). The only thing we need to do to receive this incredible gift is to humbly submit ourselves to Him and ask (James 1:5).

-Janine Strickland, Upper School Art Teacher