Art Symposium opens discussion for Christianity in art

Vocalist Ruth Naomi Floyd and the Storling Dance Company conclude the annual Art Symposium.


Jessica Lindner

Dancers performed at the Art Symposium on March 3, 2012. | Jessica Lindner/THE CHIMES

Jessica Schildt, Writer

Dancers performed at the Art Symposium on March 3, 2012. | Jessica Lindner/THE CHIMES

Many members of Biola as well as the broader community attended the 2012 annual Art Symposium this past weekend, which consisted of various performances and seminars featuring talented artists, authors and speakers. All of the events, held March 1-4, centered around the theme of Sacred Space and provided a forum for discussion on Christianity and the arts.

Glorifying God through dance

Acting as a finale for the weekend’s performances, the symposium offered a collaboration of music and dance called “An Unforgettable Evening of the Arts,” featuring vocalist Ruth Naomi Floyd and the Störling Dance Company.

For Mona Störling-Enna, who owns the Störling dance company with her husband, the night was a success. Initially, the company had some challenges with the small size of Sutherland Auditorium’s stage, but she felt the event went smoothly.

“It was really wonderful to be able to do this together with Ruth [Floyd] also. We had a really great connection right away, so it was inspiring to do these collaboration pieces. We kind of energize each other,” Störling-Enna said.

Her hope for Biola students is that the event will inspire them to glorify God through whatever field they wish to pursue. Störling-Enna, native to Finland, began dancing at age 12 and became a Christian two years later.
“[Becoming a Christian] lit a fire and a yearning in me to glorify God through dance,” Störling-Enna said.

Evangelism through art

Adriana Detrinidad, a junior transfer student and communications major at Biola, especially admired that in both the music and the dancing, women played strong, admirable roles. She was impressed with the performance.

As far as the other events throughout the weekend, she particularly enjoyed the seminars, as well as hearing Roberta Ahmanson speak.

Similarly, Floyd enjoyed performing for the symposium. She believes that Christian college students are eager to use the arts both for evangelism and expression.
“Congratulations to Biola for doing this,” Floyd said. “And may they continue to be a forerunner for other universities and colleges to follow — to not be ashamed of the arts and to use it as a way to comfort those in grief, to strengthen those who are weak, and most importantly to bring praise and honor to our great God.”

Intersection of culture and faith

The auditorium was full of students, family, community members, faculty and guests. President Barry Corey opened the night with a few words, calling this event the “capstone” of the weekend. He believes that the combination of arts, culture and faith intersecting in this event facilitated an important dialogue.

Paige Harris, an undeclared freshman Torrey student at Biola, left the dance performance pleased, and the audience was buzzing with excited energy after the show.
“Ruth Naomi [Floyd] was delightful and creative, and pairing her together with the dance company was really fantastic,” said Debbie Schuster, former adjunct member at the Institute for Spiritual Formation.

Engaging in art teaches about God

This evening of music and dance was only one of the events occurring this weekend, but it fit into the overall purpose of opening dialogue about Christianity in the arts.
“I think we saw a number of great models of how to think deeply about the arts as Christians. This conference seemed particularly optimistic about the possibilities for a more robust engagement with the arts, as well as solid thinking about what the arts teach us about God,” said Jonathan Puls, assistant professor of drawing, painting and art history at Biola.

Looking forward to next year, Puls said that “if every symposium were like this one, it would be amazing.”

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