A Place Friendly to the Arts

Arts are important to the members of Hope Church. A group of people who have facilitated arts activities at Hope Church (and elsewhere) for purposes of reflection, spiritual growth, and self-expression met to talk about how the renovations could support the practice of arts activities. Participants in the discussion were Laurie Baron, Kari Miller Fenwood, and Rachelle Oppenhuizen.

What’s most common for both writing and visual arts is a group of five to 10 people. What’s most important for writing groups is comfort and a sense of security; there are different additional criteria depending on the visual arts medium and method. There’s a bonus if there’s room to move, so that, for example, individuals in a writing group can migrate apart from each other to complete writing exercises.

In our current facility, obstacles to overcome are temperature; acoustics; places that are overly formal, too large, or institutional; and noisy, uncomfortable, or immobile furniture. There’s also, for some arts activities, the concern about making a mess or the simple logistics of set-up and clean-up.

The idea that evolved into a shared vision was to make the renovated Room 106 into a space specifically friendly to arts activities, a place where creativity is explicitly honored. This would mean a wipe-able floor, with a highly functional sink (think “slop sink” or a farm kitchen sink) for wet activities and cleaning brushes. An area rug in one corner of the room could anchor an assortment of soft seating (sofa, wing chairs) for writing, conversation, or sketching. There’s also room (physically and conceptually) for shelves of relevant books. Other furniture in the room would be very mobile, like the square tables currently used in the youth room and stackable seating or backjacks for variety. Good distributed light is important (on a dimmer is ideal for varied activities), as is some task lighting; color of the light is important. Freestanding folding screens could be used to make spaces of various sizes for different activities. Groups of up to 12 people would be expected; provision for coffee, tea, and light snacks would be a part of the hospitality. While activities for families or for children would be welcome, this was described as a “youth room for grown-ups.” Having a door that is larger (double?) than typical would help with moving supplies, finished products, and furnishings and equipment in and out.

The group envisioned that this space could also be friendly to small groups or for small meetings.

Other arts-related topics came up in the discussion, as well:

  • Inclusion of art in worship services was not the discussion focus, but it will be included in discussions about the chapel design.
  • The Commons continues to work well for large-scale arts activities, in part because there’s enough spaciousness to give people room.
  • We wondered about the potential to use the Choir Room for writing and other activities.
  • Storage is an issue bigger than Room 106, since some supplies are shared. There are also questions about whether work-in-progress storage is needed and by whom.
  • Storage of artwork is another issue for longer-term exploration.
  • Where does artwork that is produced get displayed? Is there wall space (perhaps magnetized [which preserves artwork] or tackable) in Room 106? In the Gathering Area? Other hallways? The Commons?

This page represents conversation in process; the Living Hope Design Team will continue to develop this thinking, and Hope Church members are welcome to add their perspectives. If you subscribe to this blog, please look online for the latest version of any post.

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