Introducing the Kingdom Artist Initiative
Hi. My name is Marlita Hill and I am on a mission. My mission is for my own life and for others like me. I am an artist, and I am a Christian pursuing a life where I thrive in both: a life in art, lived for God. I want to help others do the same. I invite you to join me.
My mission has a name. It is called the Kingdom Artist Initiative (KAI) and it is something that God anchored in my heart many years ago, in 2001. This Initiative is about seeing ourselves as professional artists in relationship with God through a Kingdom lens. It is about walking out the difference that relationship makes in our art life. Through the Kingdom Artist Initiative (KAI), I am working to foster a community of artists who thrive in the balance of their faith, art and career. I am not looking to foster a community whose artists have a career with their faith on the side. I am not looking to produce artists who are strong in faith and artistry, but fearful and bound in their career. I am working to help artists cultivate a synergistic relationship between these three elements, where each element influences and betters the other. To accomplish this, I believe an education, a re-education, and a reframing is needed; specifically around these areas:
— How to flourish in the duality of being an artist and Christian in our career
— How to engage in artistic freedom in collaboration with the Spirit of God
— How to live out and apply our faith in the creative, business, and social aspects of our art life
— How to be salt, light, fragrance, and love among others who speak, see, think, believe, and act differently
— How to contribute the Kingdom perspective to cultural dialogue through our art life
Living as an artist of faith (AOF) can be fraught with pressure: from within yourself, the church, the art community, peers, etc. There are many decisions to make, many boundaries to consider, many expectations to navigate, many questions to answer. Then there is the boldness factor, to walk out your particular path among those “many’s,” as God has shown you in your heart. But, before I go further, I want to clarify how I am defining an artist of faith: an artist (of any form and genre) who is Christian, but makes art about “non-religious” subject matter and presents their art in non-religious contexts.
For me, the most foundational question as an AOF is how do I exist as an artist AND as a Christian. More so, how do I thrive in that duality? How do I create synergy between the two? Many of us have found ourselves in the place where we’ve felt the pressure to choose: Do we live for God or do we pursue the art life we envision. The only way many of us have known to bring these two together is to use our art to preach the gospel or lead the church in a worship experience. If the art life we envision is different than that, we have had an interesting road forward. Still, one thing I have come to learn is that our art life is an integral part of living for God, and our career is to be housed within our relationship with Him.
Over the past few years, God has been teaching me how to thrive in this duality. I am not perfect in it, but I am absolutely convinced of it. This blog is me sharing the truth that God has taught me about thriving artistically and spiritually as an artist of faith. Through this, I am simply hoping to encourage, resonate and connect with others who want to do the same.
The KAI Ethos.
1. Our artistry is both a way we engage with God, and how we express life in Him.
2. There is a bigger “for” to which our artistry is accountable. Our career is only part of a bigger picture.
3. Evangelism is a priority; and more effective through demonstration.
4. The only responsibility you have as a Christian in the art world is to be, and to be led.
5. Our relationship with God is to be weaved into the fabric of our art life. And, our art life is to bear evidence of that relationship.
6. We have an ambassadorial responsibility to our Lord, just as we have an artistic responsibility to our form.
Tell me, how can KAI help you thrive in the balance of your faith, art, and career?
Read the next essay: The Whole Truth about our AOF Identity
Originally published at marlitahill.com on December 23, 2015.