One of my favorite recent trends in church is the desire to tackle “hot” issues from the pulpit. It’s interesting to see how far is too far for a pastor in terms of the edge-factor, and it’s also interesting to see what kind of insights they can pull from Scripture in order to tackle nuanced modern issues like systemic racism, feminism, gender and sexuality, mental illness, violence, oppressive religious mindsets, etc. Our North American Christian worldviews can often cloud our ability to adequately approach tough subjects. Film is a medium through which we can experience the worldviews of other people; we can put ourselves in the shoes of someone in a totally different social, political, religious, or historical context, and live their story for a short while. Here are some (of my favorite) films that I think are more effective at making you think deeply about a subject than any sermon your pastor will give on Sunday morning.
Mars’ Hill: Tell us a bit about your project, “A Testimony in Cloth.”
Bailey Snider: A Testimony in Cloth is a project that came out of a socially engaged art class I’m in this semester, which pretty much means it is an art project that is focused on working with a community and creating relationships as an art form. I really wanted to work with the women of TWU and hear more about the sexism that they face, because honestly it isn’t something that’s talked about a lot. I wanted to explore the things that women are told to carry with them that make them feel lesser or as though they are unable to be the equals of their male counterparts, and bring it together with my love for embroidery. A few weeks ago, I held an event where women, and men, were invited to come together to talk about sexism and the subtle things that have been said to them and to embroider them on their clothes as a kind of badge of honor.
Art theft: the crime that skyrocketed the Mona Lisa to fame in 1911. This covert crime also exists at Trinity Western University, however, no TWU artists have yet achieved fame as a result. Every week, students hang their carefully crafted masterpieces in the hallways of RNT, often unaware of the risks they are taking.
You have children, and you love them dearly, but you regret becoming a mother. You were the cause of an accident, not by accident. You’re female, and you masturbate. You’re on antidepressants. You cry every night. You honestly think you’re beautiful. You actually hate yourself. You’re ready to cut again/vomit again/binge and purge again, or you’re doing it right now. You’re having sex for the right reasons. You’re having sex for the wrong reasons. You’re not having sex at all. You’ve thought about suicide. You’re working a minimum wage job and love going to work every day, that’s what you want to do. You suck at your job. You’re lonely. You don’t want to have kids. You are 19 and want to have kids, not in a few years, now. You went back to a bad situation, over and over. Your parents aren’t living together right now. Your parents are hanging on by a thread.
What is beauty? Is it lacquer and lipstick, blemishes vanished beneath blush, painting and masking until only that which is most acceptable remains? Does beauty, success and acceptance require that we put on a façade before stepping out the door? When we do this, do we really ever step out the door? Or are we just closeting our souls, minimally participating in the world but never really giving ourselves to it, or allowing ourselves to fly?
During my four years of studying Art + Design here at Trinity Western University, I have received an invaluable education on how to make it in the real world. I haven’t really grown in my artistic “skills” per say (the most I know about graphic design is how to change a Myspace background and I find all forms of sculpture so stressful that even the thought of origami triggers my amygdala). Nevertheless, the valuable things I have learned through my years here transcend the value of any “artistic” skill. I have learned that succeeding in the elitist art world is really all about making yourself into a living art piece. If you know the Ins and Outs of high culture, you can convince anyone that you are a cool, enigmatic nonconformist (C.E.N) that is not defined by any boundaries. However, the trick is that nobody is a C.E.N by nature; it is a state achieved only through a motherload of practice. But luckily, being cool and cultured is not at all about authenticity——it’s about deception. Over the past four years of intense observation and note taking, I have caught on to a few general characteristics of C.E.N’s: