Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Ethno arts… What’s that?

The Star of Bethlehem, the birth of Jesus,
and the Magi portrayed in the Kwoma visual language

Merry Christmas to all!

Check out this article about Wycliffe Australia member Peter Brook and his ethno arts research among the Kwoma people of Papua New Guinea.  Using photography and video Peter documents local artistic expressions, seeking to better understand world views, cultures and cultural art forms.

The article briefly explains the importance of cultural art forms and the challenge to preserve and adapt them in an increasingly globalized world.  It also defines what an Arts Specialist is, and how one's research can be used to benefit indigenous societies and the church.

Monday, December 16, 2013

2014 Indigenous Christian Art Calendars

Greetings in this advent season, as we anticipate the Christ Child's incarnation and also reflect upon the year that is coming to a close.  In anticipation of the year to come, I've found two 2014 calendars (so far) that feature indigenous Christian art.

The first is another art calendar by Missio Aachen, a Catholic Mission organization.  This year's 2014 art calendar features contemporary Egyptian icons by artist Joseph Khalil.  Each icon depicts a scene from the life of Jesus, along with text in German, English and French.  The calendar can be ordered here.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

"Wise Men Still Follow the Star" by Native American Artist Jerry Yellowhawk

Wise Men Still Follow the Star, Jerry Yellowhawk
From Wesleyan Native Ministries:

Dr. Jerry Yellowhawk, a Wesleyan Native leader and Respected Elder... placed his faith in Christ in 1953, at age 18. Married to Johanna, he has pioneered new churches and served as district superintendent of the Wesleyan Native District. 
He has also assisted Wycliffe Bible Translators in providing a version in his native Lakota language. In 1995, Oklahoma Wesleyan University conferred a doctorate of divinity to Yellowhawk. 
Dr. Yellowhawk is retired now, but still preaches at the Lakota Chapel in Eagle Butte, SD from time to time, and still influences others to answer the call to minister. His grandson, Steve, is one of those who has answered the call and is now working on his Masters degree in preparation. 
“The sun is setting for me, but there are young men obeying and answering the call,” said Rev. Yellowhawk.

For a 2002 article about Dr. Jerry Yellowhawk, click here.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Logo of

I recently found this cool logo of, a site that provides a Peshitta New Testament in Aramaic/English Interlinear format along with other resources.   The Peshitta is sometimes called the Syriac Vulgate and is "the standard version of the Bible for churches in the Syriac tradition" (Wikipedia), specifically the Assyrian Church of the East.  This logo represents the Aramaic word for Yah, a shortened form of Yahweh in the Old Testament.  Yah occurs in the Old Testament "about" 50 times.  The Aramaic form of Yah is used by the Church of the East on their altar and holy books (in the photo the logo is on the center of the cross).   You can see a cool pewter pendant with this form of Yah inscribed on it here.

Shamasha Paul Younan, the founder of, simply added a cross to the word to create the logo for his website. Concerning the dots above and below the Aramaic, Younan writes:

... the dots above the NAME reveal our belief in Tla Qnumeh b'Kha Kyana (three substances in one nature).  These are not vowel markings, merely decorations on the text. This isn't present in the Hebrew obviously.  The consonants Yudh-Heh (the NAME of God) are what is common between the two languages.  In the older texts, you can see the Yudh-Heh without these decorative dots which symbolize the Trinity.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Tree of Salvation Author to Speak at Georgetown in December

For those of you in the Washington D.C. area on Friday, December 6, here's a possible chance to hear Professor G. Ronald Murphy present highlights of his recent book Tree of Salvation: Yggdrasil and the Cross in the North.  This is part of Georgetown's German Department Holiday Party, so I don't know if it's open to the public– but hey, why not email Conor Sinclair at the address provided and ask?  For more info, click here.

Murphy's book Tree of Salvation "shows how the image of Yggdrasil persisted in the Christianity of the Anglo-Scandinavian-Germanic North" and "explores the origins of the uniquely shaped churches of the North, the oldest English poem, Viking grave crosses with pagan mythology, the mystery of the runes' alphabet, the Yule wreath and the Christmas tree."

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving via The reForming Relationships Art Tour

Creating A New Family by Ovide Bighetty

On this Thanksgiving Day here in the U.S., I thought I would share a link to an art project from the Christian Reformed Church in Canada that could be seen as a model for reconciliation among Native and non-Native American Christians in the U.S.  I would suggest that it would be even more beautiful to see something collaborative done between artists from both of these two groups here in the U.S., but I think that an important part of that process would probably involve them working separately as well, as in this example.

I hope to write more about the reForming Relationships art tour in future posts, but thought I would go ahead and at least make you aware of it in the meantime.  Please check out the wonderful images painted by Cree artist Ovide Bighetty.  Indian Metis Christian Fellowship commissioned Bighetty to paint this series of paintings called Kisemanito Pakitinasuwin - The Creator's Sacrifice.

From the reForming Relationships art tour website:

Monday, November 25, 2013

2013 ION Conference Report

Back in September I attended the 2013 ION (International Orality Network) Conference near St. Louis where I learned more about the orality movement in missions, and the role that indigenous arts can play in the process.  For an explanation of how indigenous arts can help support orality and missions, click here for a great article by Erica Logan called "The Arts: Effectively Packaging the Gospel for Oral Audiences."  Kudos to Erica for organizing the arts focus at the ION conference, which I think made a great impact on everyone who attended (it certainly did for me!).

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Contextualized Prayer Beads

Check out this blog post at Circumpolar regarding the use of contextualized prayer beads among Muslims, or at least how they're being used by one worker.  I'm not sure if prayer beads can be considered art objects or not, but the post is worth noting nonetheless.  What do you think?

Friday, November 22, 2013

Annunciation - Mehndi Style by Marcia Carole

Here is artist/missionary Marcia Carole's latest beautiful design in her mehndi Christmas card series, which will be available for purchase at her blog:

Annunciation, pen and ink, watercolor by Marcia Carole

She writes:

For this piece, I began with fiery watercolor yellows. Heaven has come to earth! (The rescue mission for mankind has begun!) I have used large flowers for Mary, suggesting she is a virgin, along with a typical Indian dupatta. She shows surprise in her face at this news because she has not been with a man. I have portrayed Gabriel as a creature who is powerfully breaking through into earth from heaven. I have used many mehndi symbols and forms in Gabriel's attire in order to portray the concept of rich other-worldliness. I have also suggested the presence of the Holy Spirit through the dove woven into Gabriel's attire.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Mehndi-style Nativity by Marcia Carole

The Nativity, pen and ink, watercolor by Marcia Carole
Artist/missionary Marcia Carole is working on a series of watercolor and mehndi Christmas cards based on her travels in India and study of mehndi/henna designs.  Above is the first one of the series, The Nativity.  She writes,

I am working on a series of watercolor and mehndi Christmas cards. I jumped right in with creating the nativity scene. Some of the piece developed around the flow of the watercolor. I used lots of flowering lotus blossoms representing the flowering of God's plan to recuse us through Jesus. I tried to also portray a cave, the barn of sorts, for the setting, and the unusual star assigned to mark the spot where the savior arrived.

The Nativity is beautiful and I can't wait to see the others in the series!  Check out her blog for future images and ordering info.  You can also order 11x14 giclee prints of her other recent mehndi painting, God's Story:

God's Story, acrylic on canvas, by Marcia Carole

Monday, November 4, 2013

Diwali 2013

From Reuters: Hindu women arrange oil lamps and flowers around a "Rangoli",
a traditional pattern made from coloured powders, during the celebrations ahead
of the Hindu festival of Diwali in the western Indian city of Ahmedabad [on]
November 1, 2013. Diwali, the annual festival of lights will be celebrated across
the country on November 3.

Sunday marked the beginning of the 5-day Northern Indian Hindu festival of Diwali, or the Festival of Lights (in South India it is called Deepavali).  Like Dashain in Nepal and Navratri in India, Diwali celebrates to victory of the Good over the Evil and Light over Darkness.  On the first day of Diwali, part of the festivities include drawing designs called rangolis on the ground in front of the entrance to one's home, as a form of welcome to the Goddess of Wealth and Prosperity, Lakshmi.  Here is my own version of a Christocentric Rangoli that I've posted about previously:

 [A rangoli is] meant to be sacred welcoming [area] for the Hindu deities" (Wikipedia).  This one shows the pierced feet of Jesus in the middle, welcoming Him into one's home.  John 1:1-5 tells us,

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

This week may Christ's light shine in our hearts and be made manifest in our lives through His Holy Spirit!  May His Gospel speak to others through us as we welcome Him each day.  Pray for Hindus throughout the world that Christ would speak to their hearts during this festival and reveal Himself to them as the true Light of the World who has come to save us.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Australian Aboriginal Artist Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr-Baumann Recognised with Educational Foundation

Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr-Baumann

NT News reports that Australian Aboriginal artist and educator Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr-Baumann, "who has an honorary PhD in education, has been made the chair of the new Miriam-Rose Foundation."  The foundation has recently been established to "raise money to help remote indigenous children get better access to education and learning opportunities, including by boarding in cities." writes that "in 1998, Miriam-Rose was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia, for her services to Aboriginal education and art, and for services to the Nauiyu community having been for many years a member of the local community council, often in the role of President."

"Despite never attending secondary school, Miriam-Rose became the NT's first Indigenous school teacher and principal of St Francis Xavier in her home community. Influenced by her bush-tracker uncle, Miriam advocates teaching both western and traditional ways in Indigenous communities" (105.7 ABC Darwin).

Monday, October 21, 2013

Maya Archaeological Expert to Speak in Asheville area TWICE this week!

Palenque. Image: INAH

George Stuart
Archaeologist George Stuart, former National Geographic vice president for research and exploration, will present "Recent Discoveries at the Maya City of Palenque,” twice this week in the Asheville, NC area.  Stuart will be speaking on Tuesday, October 22 at 7:00 p.m. at the Fairview Library, as well as at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, October 24, in UNC Asheville's Ramsey Library, Whitman Room. In both presentations Stuart will give an overview of Palenque, its importance as a Mayan city and recent discoveries made in the city’s ruins. Both events are free and open to the public.

During his career with the National Geographic Society, Stuart rose to the position of senior archaeology editor of National Geographic Magazine, and chairman of the Committee for Research and Exploration. He is the author of eight books and more than 40 articles, including his book Palenque: Eternal City of the Maya (Thames & Hudson, 2008), co-authored with his son David Stuart.

George Stuart also founded the Boundary End Archaeology Research Center (BEARC), a not-for-profit organization based on his Barnardsville property, which houses a 12,000 volume library on American archaeology. BEARC promotes research related to the archaeology, art, and writing systems of ancient America. Stuart’s many awards include the Tatiana Prokouriakoff Award from Harvard University and a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Fifth Annual Maya at the Playa conference.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Runestone of Harald Bluetooth, Jelling, Denmark

Jelling Runestone (replica). Erected by King Harald Bluethooth at Jelling in
Jutland, Denmark, 960-980 AD. This honors his parents who made the Danes Christian.
This deserves an extensive post, which I'll try to get to eventually.  In the meantime, feast your eyes on this colorized replica of the Jelling Runestone erected by King Harald Bluethooth at Jelling in Jutland, Denmark, 960-980 AD.  The crucifixion image is extraordinary!  This is a monument mentioned in the book I'm currently reading, Tree of Salvation: Yggdrasil and the Cross in the North by G. Ronald Murphy.   I can't wait to finish devouring it and start blogging about it!

More to come eventually...

Monday, October 7, 2013

Tree of Salvation: Yggdrasil and the Cross in the North

Tree of Salvation: Yggdrasil and the Cross in the North is a new book written by Father G. Ronald Murphy, Professor of German at Georgetown University.  It sounds fascinating and I can't wait to get my hands on my own personal copy (soon, my friend!).  I'm interested to read the author's angle on the subject since I've never read much about it, but I'm sure that there will be much to learn from it about contextualization (and/or syncretism?) of the Gospel.  The book is available in both a hardcover and Kindle edition.  You can read a short article about the book's content here.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Psalm 36:7-9

Yesterday I was reading Psalm 36 and verses 7-9 jumped out at me.  I think they are such a beautiful, poetic description of God's love for us:

How precious is your steadfast love, O God!
    The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
They feast on the abundance of your house,
    and you give them drink from the river of your delights.
For with you is the fountain of life;
    in your light do we see light.

I once painted a couple of versions of verse 7-9 on ceramic panels.  Here is the larger version:

Friday, September 27, 2013

"Travelling the Ancient Land" by Safina Stewart

Check out the latest wonderful painting by Aboriginal Christian Artist Safina Stewart, called "Travelling the Ancient Land"!

Safina writes:

I love the stain glass window effect, patch working and the mix of Aboriginal designs across the landscape. I painted it in honor of the many traditional owners of this diverse Australian continent. My hope is that when people see this painting they'll be prompted to appreciate the land, people, culture and history of the land they dwell on and travel. 

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Native American Identity, Christianity, and Critical Contextualization by Eric Bates

I was just made aware of this new book (thanks to Paul Neeley at Global Worship): Native American Identity, Christianity, and Critical Contextualization by Eric Bates.  I haven't read it yet so if any of you do, let me know!

From Amazon:

The idea of being both ‘Native’ and ‘Christian’ has been especially challenging among American Indians. Indian people have endured five hundred years of colonial dominance and the results have left divisions between those who are traditionalists, keeping to the old ways, and those who are progressives, embracing the new. Since the mid-1990s there has been a resurgence among Indian evangelicals who wish to break down the ‘identity crisis’ related to being Native and Christian. Native Christians are encouraging other Natives to meet somewhere in the middle of traditionalism and progressivism. 
Eric Bates addresses the question of Native American identity, a question that has been problematic among both Native Americans and non-Indians. Blood quantum as an indicator of Indigenous identity has led to constructions of different levels of Indianness. Pan-Indianism has brought together Native peoples from a variety of tribal backgrounds and has formed a new sense of collective identity as Indians versus tribal affiliations. Using situational analysis, Bates examines contextualized ministry via a Native Christian conference which allows Christian Indians to express their Indianness by wearing Native regalia, using Indigenous instruments, and employing other forms of Native expression.

For more about the author, Eric Bates, check out his NKU faculty profile or page 31 of this alumni magazine.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Stained Glass Window at Yuendumu Baptist Church in Northern Territory, Australia

Stained glass window at Yuendumu Baptist Church in Northern Territory, Australia,
showing the Cross of Christ surrounded by the Dreamings of the various Warlpiri clan divisions.
Photo by Louise, 2009.

I'm doing more research on Ivan Jordan's book, Their Way: Towards an Indigenous Warlpiri Christianity, and found this image of a stained glass window at a church in the area where he and his wife Verl were missionaries from 1973 until c. 2000 (his ministry was centered in the church at Lajamanu).  The church was built in 1967 under the direction of Ivan's predecessor, Tom Fleming, who worked at Yuendumu from 1950-1975.  Ivan writes this about Tom and the window above:

The beautiful stained glass window in the Yuendumu church building with the cross in the centre of the various Dreaming designs of the Warlpiris, is further testimony to Tom's attitude.  The window reminds those entering the building that all people come into God's family through the cross of Christ.  It also reminds them that every person who comes into God's family comes as they are; not as a White person or Westerner, but as a truly Aboriginal person, and for the Warlpiris, they come as a member of their kinship group.  This approach of architecturally relating the people to God in a graphic way is similar to what has happened at other places such as Yirrkala and Maningrida, in Arnhem Land (148).

Click on the image above to see more photos by "Louise" from the church (including more artwork, though sometimes blurry).

Monday, September 2, 2013

Jesus Washing His Disciples' Feet by Hindu artist Bhanu Dudhat

Jesus Washing His Disciples' Feet by Bhanu Dudhat, 30" X 24" Acrylic on Canvas
Take a look at this interesting folk-style painting by Hindu artist Bhanu Dudhat of India.  You can see more of his paintings here (26 total).  The paintings are great, though at least one is bit off on the details– the Last Supper has 13 disciples!  Overall, however, they are a pleasure to see.  There is also a long scroll painting showing many scenes from the Old Testament (click here, or here for the entire image at once).

According to Bhanu's biography, he is a Hindu ("He has full devotion to Lord Shiva. He believes Lord Shiva as the source of motivation").  Unfortunately, his biography is also long, rambling and badly written in English.  So I would suggest that you stick to browsing the artwork by Bhanu and his wife, Prabha– whose Hindu paintings are almost identical in style to her husband's biblical paintings (I'm not sure which one developed the folk style first, as Bhanu paints contemporary abstracts as well).  The folk style of the biblical and Hindu paintings may have begun with Bhanu's mother, who (according to Bhanu's biography) also painted.  If you want to slog through the biography to figure it out for yourself, go for it!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Book of Kells Now Free to View Online

As of March 2013, the Book of Kells in its entirety has been made viewable in the Trinity College Library’s new Digital Collections online repository, provided by the Library’s Digital Resources and Imaging Services.  Read more here.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Colorized Mehndi Tree Of Life by Marcia Carole

Here is the watercolor version of a pen and ink drawing by Marcia Carole, who recently returned from a trip to India.  She and friends from an English Institute in Varanasi painted a black and white mural of this same image while she was there.  You can see the mural here.

Here is Marcia's description of the tree's symbolism:

In the base or root system, I have symbols that represent creation - sun, moon, stars, fish, birds, mountains and water, Adam and Eve, the fruit(apple) is connected to 2 hearts with the symbol for Jesus in the trunk. The stars reappear as Abraham's promise, then a symbol with 12 swirls representing the 12 tribes. and life with the leaves going up the trunk. The Holy Spirit is the flame symbol in the branches, with fruit - heart leaves, flowing out of the flame. New life in Jesus produces healing from sin and death, so the flowering areas of the tree. I have the 12 disciples in there and early church.

You can read more about the watercolor version at her blog, The Creative Call.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Sacred Hoop as the Cross of Christ

This is the Aboriginal logo created for the Sudbury Catholic Schools by Hauk Toulouse, a 15 year old Anishinabek Canadian from Sagamok Anishnawbek and former student.  He aspires to be a professional artist, specializing in Graphic Art.  The Sudbury Catholic District Board, located in Ontario, strives to improve achievement among First Nation, Métis and Inuit students, and to close the gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students.

So, what does the logo symbolize, and is it representative of First Nation, Métis and Inuit students in Ontario, as well as of the school itself?  Unfortunately, no explanation of the logo is given.  I was, however, able to find some information about the circle and colors behind the cross.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Mehndi Tree Of Life by Marcia Carole

Tree Of Life, Pen and Ink, by Marcia Carole

Check out this wonderful pen and ink drawing by Marcia Carole, who is currently on a trip to India.  Marcia uses her talents to create collaged stories. She also helps others share their stories through collaged pages, story ropes & story tags.  You can read more about Marcia's ministry at her blog, The Creative Call.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Photos of the July 2013 Festival of Native Peoples

Here's a link to a great set of photos from the July 2013 Festival of Native Peoples (I did not take these photos; but the one on the left is mine).  The photos show several of the groups that performed dances in Cherokee, NC from all over North America and Mexico (the Hawaiian group is based in Virginia).  The costumes are incredibly beautiful (especially the Aztec dancers!), as well as some of the musical instruments like the drums in the photo at left (in the photo the man on the left is Andy Everson, Northwest Coast artist and graphic designer– check out his great art at

Below is a video of the Raven Gwawena Dance, performed by the Le-La-La Dancers of Northern Vancouver Island.  They are a traditional Kwakwaka'wakw (pronounced kwa kwa key wok) dance company that has shared their culture by entertaining and educating throughout the world for over 25 years under the direction of George Me'las Taylor (he is on the right in the photo above).

Monday, July 22, 2013

Art as Culture: Chapter 5 Review

Timkat, the Ethiopian Orthodox celebration of the Epiphany

Today's post is my summary and review of of Chapter Five of Art as Culture: An Introduction to the Anthropology of Art by Evelyn Payne Hatcher.  Chapter Five's title is "Why? Social Contexts and Social Functions," and examines three theories that attempt to explain how art helps hold societies together (i.e., its "social function").  Hatcher does this by exploring the type of situations in which visual art forms are utilized by indigenous cultures, and the reasons why.

Here's a basic outline of the chapter:

How Does Art Help Hold Society Together? There are Three Primary Theories:
     I. Art as a psychological means to social ends: Art functions as a safety release valve for negative emotions or excess energy. 
     II. Art as social setting: By providing aesthetic pleasure to large groups during gatherings, art helps to reinforce a sense of community or communitas. 
     III. Art as a symbol of society: Art can reflect and reinforce proper social relationships, through the use of collective cultural symbols.

Dot-painting tips for tourists draws MP's ire

Picture: Steve Strike.  Source: The Australian

The following news story from Australia is a warning for Christian workers and others about the divisions that can result when utilizing indigenous sacred art forms.  There were no Christian workers involved in this case, but it shows that participation in indigenous art forms by non-natives can sometimes create animosity among indigenous groups.  So, always be careful and preferably come alongside local believers when exploring the use of sacred art forms.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Jacob's Ladder

I just read Genesis 28:10-22 this morning, and was reminded of a bowl I once painted.  It depicts v. 11-13a:

And [Jacob] came to a certain place and stayed there that night, because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place to sleep. And he dreamed, and behold, there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven. And behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it! And behold, the Lord stood above it...

My image is painted in a Southwestern Acoma/Mimbres-inspired style.  Mimbres pottery was the first nonwestern art style that I experimented with when I first began painting contextual images.  I think I also had in mind the idea of a Pueblo Kiva, with their ladders ascending to the outside of the room.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Raven Icon

Raven Icon ©1998 by Bill Hudson
12" x 16" Acrylic and gold leaf on panel

The icon painting above was created by Bill Hudson for the Alaska Folk Festival's 20th annual festival.  He writes that had originally proposed "for the 20th anniversary, a Russian Orthodox style icon of the Mother Mary playing a Russian balalaika," but festival board members felt that might be too offensive to some viewers.  So he came back with this Raven icon.  He writes, "Although Raven is well known among Alaskan Natives as the Creator of the World — which in my mind certainly ranks him up there with the Mother Mary — no one complained that the new design was religiously offensive."

So the image isn't intended to be a religious icon, but rather to represent the Russian orthodox and Native American communities of Alaska collectively.  But it got me to thinking, what would it look like to combine the icon format with Northwest Coast art style to produce biblical depictions of Christ, saints, stories, etc.?  Hmmmmm...

Thursday, July 11, 2013

An Interview on Contextualizing Ecclesiology

A traditional Kazakh rug.  Photo by Mark Heard.

I found this interview over at 9Marks Blog.  9Marks is a ministry dedicated to equipping church leaders with a biblical vision and practical resources.  The interview is with Ed Roberts, a church planter in Central Asia for nearly twenty years.  Ed discusses the importance of contextualization in his (and all Christian workers') ministry and gives a list of five suggestions for good cross-cultural contextualization.  I found the first suggestion to be especially insightful:

Realize that our goal in contextualizing should always be to clarify the gospel and biblical doctrine. Our goal must not be to make others comfortable with Christianity or the Bible. It’s not to minimize persecution by minimizing the offense of the cross. And we do not want to confuse our culture with the gospel. We do not proclaim ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord (2 Cor. 4:1-6).

Check out the link above to read the rest of the interview.

Monday, July 8, 2013

2013 Festival of Native Peoples and Cherokee Indian Art Market

Coming up this weekend (7/12-7/13) in Cherokee, NC is the 2013 Festival of Native Peoples and Cherokee Indian Art Market.  It is the "finest showcase of native dance, art, and culture in the southeast. Indigenous tribes from across the Americas gather for the Festival of Native Peoples... the event honors the collective history, customs and wisdom of some of the oldest documented tribes."

Some of this year's performing groups include the Totonac pole flyers of Mexico who gracefully unfurl from the top of a ninety-foot pole while attached to ropes; the White Mountain Apache Crown Dancers of Arizona; the Halau Ho'omau I ka Wai Ola O' Hawai'i hula dancers based at Hope United Church in Alexandria, Virginia; and Cherokee's own Warriors of AniKituhwa.

The festival will also play host to one of the southeast’s largest Native American art markets. The Cherokee Indian Art Market will feature over fifty nationally recognized, juried craftspeople and artisans from around the country displaying and selling their handmade traditional and contemporary works of art ranging in price from $10 to tens of thousands of dollars. Artists will also demonstrate techniques passed down from generation to generation.

Adult admission to the festival is $10.  To see a detailed performance schedule for both days, click the image at the top of this page.  Below is montage video of the dance groups from 2009:

Yesterday was Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sunday in Austraila

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sunday fell on July 7th (sorry about the ond day delay in posting this!) and brings together the entire Catholic Community to celebrate the gifts that Australia's first peoples bring to the Church in Australia.  It is an event sponsored by National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholic Council (NATSICC), an organization which seeks to act "as an avenue that helps Aboriginal and Torres Strait people to have a voice in the Catholic Church in Australia."  Printed online resources for this Sunday's observances can be downloaded here.  For a description of the organization's logo (left), click here.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Latest Painting by Aboriginal Christian Artist Safina Stewart

Manna Gum by Safina Stewart

The painting above is the latest by Aboriginal Christian Artist Safina Stewart, who I've featured previously here at Indigenous Jesus– go Safina!  She posted the image June 5th on her Facebook page and included the following description:
Just thought you all might like to know what's been keeping me busy lately. I've been working on a number of commissions. One of which I unveiled with the Mayor, Cr. Jim Child, and presented at the Yarra Ranges Reconciliation lunch yesterday! 
The Shire of the Yarra Ranges and their Indigenous Advisory Committee commissioned me to paint this "Manna Gum". There is a deep story in this painting. In a sense it is a self-portrait of our local Indigenous community - a metaphor for how we see ourselves and how we interpret our Ways of Being as an urban contemporary Indigenous community. Everything in it has a special meaning and reminder. It was awesome speaking about the story and journey in painting it. The Manna Gum is characterized by its resilience and endurance - a perfect image to represent our Indigenous community. This is a piece of purpose, hope and pride. 
The Shire of Yarra Ranges launched their new Reconciliation Action Plan yesterday at the lunch. My artwork has been used throughout the RAP booklet (looks too deadly!) My Mum, Doseena Fergie, was one of the guest speakers and was so inspiring, challenging and engaging. On ya, Ma! 
The original (3x5 feet) will hang in the Yarra Ranges Council Chambers when it is not on tour in other exhibitions. So keep and eye out for it if you are a local on Wurundjeri country! 
Safina also posted a wonderful short video showing her painting Manna Gum, which is really great because you get to see how she applies the paint (sometimes with her hands) and her struggle to bring the image out of her mind and onto the canvas.  I really liked seeing the close-ups of the detailed patterns as she applies them to the trunk of the tree and the soil beneath the tree's roots.  Safina writes that the "actual painting took...6mths of planning, thinking and stewing over ideas and then about 10 days of painting scattered over 2 months. The life of a mother and artist, eh!"  She even filmed and edited the video herself!  Congratulations and great work Safina!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Upcoming Book of Australian Aboriginal Christian Art

Painting of the three crosses by Anangu artist Yvonne-Edwards.

Dating from September 2012, this article profiles the author/compiler of an upcoming book on Australian Aboriginal Christian art, Christobel Mattingley.

The article states, "Together with Bible Society Australia’s Remote and Indigenous Ministry team, Mattingley is working on compiling a book of Aboriginal art with biblical subject matter. Artists are invited to submit works which depict a Bible story which has meaning for them. Altogether, the book will include about 100 images."

Mattingley goes on to say that "Pictures speak to everyone. I’m hoping that this book will speak to everyone, and contribute towards the long slow process of reconciliation. I believe that reconciliation can’t be imposed from above. It has to start in the hearts of each individual person. This book may light the spark that leads to a true spirit of reconciliation."

There is no indication as to when the book will be published.  Mattingley writes on her blog that "it takes time to try to spread the word about the project, so if you know any Aboriginal artists, please tell them about it and ask them to get in touch with me or Louise Sherman at the Bible Society."

If you would like more information about the project or to submit an artwork, email

To read an article about the recent National Reconciliation Week in Australia written by Christian blogger Josh Dowton, click here.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Contextualized Mongolian Banner Update

In 2011 I posted about a worship celebration in Mongolia that commemorated 20 years of the Gospel in Mongolia.  The organizers of the event made nine contextualized banners that used two different Mongolian alphabets and cultural symbols.  One of the banners was based on a bowl painting of mine called Risen Lord of Heaven and Earth. The banner itself was called "Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life" and was based on John 14:6.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Global Christian Worship - A Sinful Woman Washes Jesus’ Feet: Chinese, Japanese, Mayan, Cameroonian art

The latest post over at Paul Neeley's Global Christian Worship blog is "A Sinful Woman Washes Jesus’ Feet: Chinese, Japanese, Mayan, Cameroonian Art," which includes four nonwestern images inspired by this Sunday's Gospel reading in the Lectionary, Luke 7:36-8:3.  The artwork depicted is by Chinese artist He Qi, the Jesus Mafa artist, Sadao Watanabe of Japan, and the last by yours truly.  Check them out!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Searching for a Practical Theology of Contextualization

I've been spending a lot of the last month or so working on my shade garden, hence the lack of posts here on Indigenous Jesus.  However one thing that I've been thinking about in the back of my mind for some time is the subject of a theology of contextualization. I have a few books on contextualization (see below), but was wondering if there is a standout book that both discusses the theological background of the subject along with practical missiological examples, especially if they relate at all to the arts. I know that a lot has been written on contextualization, which makes it a bit difficult to narrow down to just one or two books.

I do think, however, that a theological foundation is essential to engaging in the practice of contextualization in ministry. And until or unless I take some theology classes on the subject, I'd like some thought-provoking reading that might help pull together all of the various strands– history, theology, examples– and give a practical, working theology of contextualization.

The books that I own are:
Contextualization in the New Testament: Patterns for Theology and Mission by Dean Flemming
Contextualization: A Theology of Gospel and Culture by Bruce J. Nicholls
Contextualization: Meanings, Methods, and Models by David J. Hesselgrave and Edward Rommen

The most recent new title I've seen is Contextualization in World Missions: Mapping and Assessing Evangelical Models by A. Scott Moreau, who teaches in the Missions and Intercultural Studies Department at Wheaton College. It looks very thorough and may be what I'm looking for.  Has anyone read it?

Other books on contextualization that I'm aware of are:
Christianity In Culture: A Study In Dynamic Biblical Theologizing In Cross-cultural Perspective by Charles H. and Marguerite G. Kraft
Contextualization and Syncretism: Navigating Cultural Currents by Gailyn Van Rheenen
Models of Contextual Theology (Faith and Cultures Series) by Stephen B. Bevans

Any other suggestions or insights? Thanks!