Students react to the transformed Calvary Chapel

The Biola community is divided upon the unveiling of new art renovations.


Sung Min (Sam) Lee, Freelance Writer

Calvary Chapel, which serves as a hub for those seeking to fulfill their chapel credits or to find solace, underwent some major changes last summer. Massive renovations were completed early this semester, replacing the white and gray color scheme with stained glass and gold accents, complete with a golden cross hanging over the entrance.

Built in 1975 by Pasadena, Calif. architect John Andre Gougeon, Calvary Chapel has served as a place of worship and a spiritual home for students and faculty alike. Now, under the direction and design of world-renown Danish artists Peter Brandes and Maja Lisa Engelhardt, the chapel has taken on a new look.

The chapel is adorned with stained glass panels, each decorated with a piece done by Brandes, that depicted biblical stories and events. This is a major departure from Calvary Chapel’s previous look of a minimalistic interior decorated only by pews and texts that lined the white plaster walls.

The change is not always wholly accepted though, as it has created some controversy among students and faculty. With the chapel serving as both a place of worship and a classroom, there are students who find the renovation of the chapel a bit of a hurdle.

“It’s distracting,” said junior communication sciences and disorders major Josh Rajan. “And with all the artwork inside, your eyes begin to wander.”

Rajan went on to explain that he preferred the chapel’s previous look compared to its current incarnation, stating how the abstract pieces that fill its walls clutter the building, removing focus from more poignant matters like classroom and chapel lectures.

Sophomore art majors Maddie Miller and Anna Winters feel differently.

“Art should attract your eyes,” Miller said. “And if it does, it’s doing its job right.”

Miller explained that the artwork being shown means there is a greater meaning behind its display, serving a purpose and a message.

“Undoubtedly the work shown in the chapel has a message the artists want to deliver,” Winters said. “I think it’s beautiful.”

The two visited the Resurrection event currently on display at the Earl and Virginia Green Art Gallery to better understand the artists’ intent when designing Calvary Chapel. Inside, the walls and stands are decorated with pictures of the art by Brandes and Engelhardt which serve as a foundation for the chapel’s final design. There are also plaques detailing the inspiration and message behind each work.

Miller spoke passionately about how she wished people would look deeper into the story behind the art to develop a more educated and well-rounded opinion about it rather than judging it on first impressions.

Calvary Chapel and The Earl and Virginia Green Art Gallery are currently open for self-tours where all students, free of charge, can explore the new aesthetic of the chapel and determine the answer for themselves on whether the chapel’s new appearance conveys a deeper message or simply serves as a distracting decoration.

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