Jubilee College of Music

News & Events

Christ Centered Art and JCM Dean Dr. Merril Smoak

March 30, 2015

“Several years ago I admitted to myself that I am a visual learner,” stated Dr. Merril Smoak, Dean of Olivet University’s Jubilee College of Music. “Colors, shapes, and images speak volumes to me about God’s amazing creation and the possibility of spiritual formation through the visual arts.” This discovery led Dr. Smoak to create the Christ Centered Art ministry at his church in Livermore, CA. This coming April 25-26 Christ Centered Art will present its seventh annual art show. This year’s theme is “A New Heaven and A New Earth” from Revelation chapter 21.

Each year Christ Centered Arts taps into the spiritual life of the Tri-Valley community by selecting a theme based upon a single chapter in the Bible. Christian artists are asked to read this specific chapter, meditate on its meaning, and then create original works of art that depict the theme. In past years about 40 artists have participated from various churches. Art for the shows has included watercolor, acrylic and oil paintings, sculpture, photography, collage, mixed media, stained glass, and computer generated graphics. In 2010 students from Olivet University’s San Francisco campus participated in the art show. The art show is held each year at Trinity Church in Livermore where the church’s stage and foyer are turned into a weekend art gallery.

The idea for a Christ Centered Art organization surfaced in 2007 when Dr. Smoak asked artists to create original paintings for the church’s Good Friday worship gathering. The paintings were displayed on the stage as part of the evening’s drama, music, and scripture reading. “I will never forget what happened next,” relates Smoak. “After the worship service ended the vast majority of the audience made it way to the stage to view the five paintings up close and personal. They were amazed at the colors, shapes, and images portrayed in the paintings and how they related to the Good Friday experience. The idea of a Christ Centered Arts group was planted in my mind.”

Holy Week, the week between Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday was the theme of the first Christ Centered Art Show in 2009. The 2010 theme was Pentecost from Acts chapters 1 and 2; 2011, Let All Creation Praise the Lord, Psalm 148; 2012, The Parables of Jesus, Matthew chapter 13; 2013, Creation, Genesis chapter 1; 2014, Celebrate the Resurrection, Luke chapter 24. “Through out the centuries of Christian history art has played an important role in communicating the truths of the Bible,” continues Dr. Smoak. “Christ Centered Art encourages Christian artists to continue this visual tradition. Christ Centered Art is committed to keeping scripture and Christ at the center of its mission and ministry.”

Dr. Smoak invites Olivet University students to participate in this year’s Christ Centered Art Show. Please see details and registration forms at www.trinitylivermore.org. The 2015 Christ Centered Art Show will be held at Trinity Church, 557 Olivina in Livermore, on Saturday and Sunday April 25-26. The guest speaker for this year’s event is Jason Leith, Director of Ex Creatis Arts Initiative, a ministry of Saddleback Church, Lake Forest, CA.