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.

Sign up for our newsletter!

umnews-subscriptions
General Conference
Bishop Warner H. Brown preaches at the opening worship for the United Methodist 2016 General Conference in Portland, Ore. File photo by Maile Bradfield, UM News.

Ask The UMC: How are General Conference delegates chosen?

Every four years, delegates gather from all over the world to make decisions on behalf of the denomination. Learn more about these members of the church's highest legislative body.
General Conference
On Jan. 3, a 16-member group of United Methodist leaders offered a proposal that would preserve The United Methodist Church while allowing traditionalist-minded congregations to form a new denomination. UM News will host a panel discussion on the Protocol of Reconciliation & Grace Through Separation proposal at 9:30 a.m. EST on Jan. 13. Graphic by Laurens Glass, UM News.

Video archive: UM News interviews protocol developers

Leaders who helped develop a separation plan for The United Methodist Church answered questions about their proposal during a live event Jan. 13.
General Church
Delegates pause for prayer at the 2019 special General Conference in St. Louis. A group of 2020 General Conference delegates and other church leaders from Africa, Europe and the Philippines is proposing a new form of unity. File photo by Kathleen Barry, UM News.

Delegates offer proposal for church unity

United Methodist leaders from Africa, Europe and the Philippines are offering a “Christmas Covenant” and inviting others to sign on.