Image turned thirty years old this April. As we reflect on what’s ahead, we asked fifteen visual artists and two singer-songwriters to tell us what they learned and how they changed after turning thirty. Click here for the full collection.
I became an artist when I turned thirty, much to my surprise. I had never seen myself doing that, not as a child who loved to draw and not as an undergraduate studying studio art. My twenties were spent moving from one office job to the next, depressed that I had not figured out a career. Eventually, I chose to take courses in art and theology at Fuller Theological Seminary, because I had felt a pull to visual art—and also towards understanding how God works in the world.
My classes were eye-opening. Until then, I had struggled with the nagging idea that art was frivolous. But I discovered the unique place art can have in faith. Most significantly, I saw how art divinely shapes our reality and ourselves, through small and big gestures that reverberate into a wider future.
I became drawn to constructing site-specific installations and sculpture. At thirty, I decided that this was what I wanted to try to do professionally, however unlikely my success seemed. After so many years of feeling lost, I went into my thirties feeling alive in the joy and excitement of making art. I have since felt that I am doing exactly what I should, living out everything I can offer. As my artistic life grows, my spiritual life also matures; as I practice listening to the Spirit, I become a better artist. Over time I have learned that making art is a collaborative process for me. I am coming to a place where I work together with the Spirit on an installation. I have learned to sense this movement in my gut and to trust my intuition.
My recent installation Lucent Shifts reflects these last years. Made of highly reflective plastic that mirrors the activity in its surroundings, it progresses from low to high, creating a sense of transcendence. It reminds me of how changed I am as an artist and person. I have come to feel grounded and connected. Yet I am looking hopefully to a future where I will continue to learn how to thrive. In who I am and in my work, I am striving towards creating a space where divinity meets the ordinary world. I know I will continue to make art that expresses the possibility and freedom that lie within the enormity of grace.
The Image archive is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.