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WeMakeStuff volume 01 features 100 Christian artists from Vancouver

October 29, 2012
Many Christ-following creative people find themselves caught in a tension. Either their creativity is not understood by their church family, or their faith journey is not valued by their creative peers.

What do you do when the project you’ve been consumed by for the past seven years isn’t even close to meeting its fundraising target, just days before your deadline? You pray.

And that’s exactly what the organizers behind the WeMakeStuff project did. With just ten days left to raise $35,000 to publish a book featuring one hundred Vancouver-based artists and innovators “exploring the collision of faith and creativity,” the team of editors gathered in the home of visionary David Vandas and simply prayed.

Ali Cumming, Arts Administrator at Regent College, and one of the sixteen editors tasked with selecting the artists for the book, describes the moment this way: “I was there [at David’s place] at 5:15 pm and we finished praying around 11:30 pm. I arrived a little anxious. Crowd-funding sales were in a lull, and with just ten days to the deadline, we still had more than half the amount the raise. If we didn’t raise $35,000 by the deadline, we’d lose everything, and have to start all over. So I asked David, ‘Do we have a plan B??’ But David said he was really at peace about it. From the beginning, he had felt this was God’s project, and if God wanted it to go ahead, it would. We prayed some bold prayers, not just for the project, but for the arts and artists in Vancouver. By the end of the evening, we all felt that same peace.”

And from that point onwards, the money started rolling in. The group ultimately met its fundraising target three days ahead of schedule, and by the deadline of Monday, October 15, they had raised a total of $41,090. While most of the money came from individuals pre-ordering copies of the book, a few sponsors helped tip the scales.

The book is an ambitious project. The sixteen editors, who are all artists in their own right, were asked to select five creative people within their sphere of influence, which could include everything from the more traditionally understood creative pursuits such as music, film, the visual arts, literature, dance, and theatre, to design of all forms (web, graphics, clothing), sailboat building, pastoring to a creative community, cooking, snowboard art, working for social justice, staging collaborations among artists, programming arts festivals, or magazine publishing. And that’s just a sampling of the variety of creative expressions in this book. “Yet there’s a unity in the diversity – these artists are all representatives of the body of Christ,” says Cumming. “They are the scattering of the church in culture,” adds Naomi Lippett, one of the artists and editors. “All of these people are culture-makers, they’re engaged in the public square.”

WeMakeStuff volume 01 includes a number of Regent alumni, students, and staff. These include Ali Cumming (MCS 2008), playwright and arts administrator; Lance Odegard (MCS 2011), poet, pastor, and musician; Nelson Boschman (MCS 2005), pastor and jazz musician; Ron Reed (DipCS 1982), Director of Pacific Theatre; Carolyn Arends (MCS student), songwriter and columnist for Christianity Today; Jason Goode (MCS 2004), filmmaker; Jill Cardwell (current student, MCS), collaborative arts facilitator; and Naomi Lippett (current student, MCS), events facilitator.

One hundred artists may seem like a lot, but this project can’t possibly be exhaustive, nor does it claim to be. “We know we’ve missed some substantial artists. This is not meant to be an elitist book. One fifth of the artists featured are under twenty years of age. We wanted to do something to start an ongoing network and conversation,” insists Cumming. “There is a tendency for artists to work in isolation. This is a way of bringing people together to collaborate. We hope the book will serve as an inspiration for those who struggle as artists.”

Perhaps an even more significant hope for this book is that it will spark a dialogue and lead to greater understanding between creative people and the church. As David Vandas writes in the introduction, “The life of a creative person is a unique odyssey. As creative people, we take from the invisible and push the boundaries of our reality, both internally and externally. In this time in church history, creativity is often underrated and undervalued... Many Christ-following creative people find themselves caught in a tension. Either their creativity is not understood by their church family, or their faith journey is not valued by their creative peers.”

One of the next steps after the book launch in November will be an effort to engage the church community. “We’re still figuring out how WeMakeStuff can engage with local churches. We want to invest back into the churches and the community,” says Cumming. “The book is a catalyst. We don’t know what will come next, but God is definitely doing something beyond the book.”

Several next steps are already in place. There will be an exhibition of some of the visual art featured in the book at the Lookout Gallery at Regent College in mid-January. And, of course, there’s already talk of putting together volume 2.

About WeMakeStuff

WeMakeStuff Volume 01 is a stunning book that will showcase one hundred artists and innovators from Vancouver exploring the collision of faith and creativity. It will be a historical document showcasing creative people expressing their process, intent, and the tensions of their reality. The one hundred are artists, innovators, inventors, engineers, architects, designers, film-makers, dancers, programmers, entrepreneurs, chefs and writers. For the first time, their collective voices are being recorded in one ground-breaking publication.

About Regent College

Regent College is an evangelical, international graduate school of Christian studies based in Vancouver, and affiliated with the University of British Columbia, Canada’s third largest university. Regent College is a theological graduate school—a place of academic rigour, cultural engagement, and vibrant faith that transforms intellect, imagination, and character. Here, people from around the world are inspired and enriched with a deep and practical Christian faith extending into all spheres of life and enabling them to live more thoughtfully in varied vocations in the church and the world.

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