Look down and see the art

United Methodist artist, the Rev. Ted Lyddon Hatten, has spent most of the week on his knees.

Wearing black knee pads, Hatten is creating 10 dry paintings on the floor outside the plenary hall which change daily and reflect the events occurring inside the plenary sessions at the United Methodist General Conference.

The designs change fast…so fast that I fear I’ve missed a few. One of the earliest designs depicted the continents of the world. I didn’t get a photo thinking I’d return a bit later when more contrast was added. When I returned the world had “evolved” and only one continent remained.

There have been swirling winds, an eye of a hurricane, a butterfly representing brokenness and resurrection and materials ranging from myrrh, mustard seeds, glass and stone. This isn’t just Tampa sand. The sand in the designs has been collected from all over the world. One day General Conference attendees were even invited to become involved by shredding paper which was added to the design.

Hatten is a campus minister at Drake University and part of the design team of the 2012 United Methodist General Conference. He calls his designs “ephemeral mosaics” and tried to explain to me that they are created in the same spirit of the art practiced by Tibetan, Buddhist, Navajo, and Hindu which is not meant to last. Imagine that – in our age of art which we carefully frame or sculpture we place on pedestals these beautiful designs will only last in memory or on our digital discs from cameras and cell phones. Plenty of conference attendees have paused to take photos.

I can’t wait to see what the butterfly evolves into as the day goes on. Hatten has promised to offer 10 views of the world, “one each day using materials connected to our mulit-layered story.” He adds, “this kind of work comes out of my belief that the visual experience has a unique ability to deepen our connection to the gospel and to each other. I call it visual holiness.”

I call it awesome.

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