Dordt College News

Seeing Lent through art

May 24, 2013

On Ash Wednesday, professors in Dordt’s Introduction to the Arts class decided to do something a little different.

The class, which is divided into sections that focus on theater, music, visual art, and film, met together to look at how art has traditionally been used for Lent.

“Lent is about stepping away from our normal routines,” said Dr. Bob De Smith. He and the other instructors wanted students to think about Lenten themes and practices through the arts.

According to De Smith, the class “is about looking at how art is relevant to our lives” and connecting art to an event that is very relevant to the lives of Christians made sense.

“It was not what students were used to, in terms of class or in terms of their particular Christian tradition,” said Art Professor Matt Drissell.

“I appreciated the way the professors approached the subject,” said Junior Reuben Van Gaalen.

Music Professor John MacInnis said that the class was mainly about exposure, both to Lent and to art. His goal was to “expose students to great music” and teach them about historical Lenten practice and help them think about how we can approach Lent today.

Students were presented with Lenten themes and practices in different media throughout history and challenged to think about and incorporate what they’d seen and experienced in how they think about and celebrate Lent. They left the class in silence in order to further reflect on what they had seen and heard.

Students were challenged by Theater Professor Josiah Wallace’s encouragment to know something “by heart.” He noted that congregations often read and sing the same things, but “need to decide what it means and have a reason why they say it.”

“I really liked the theatrical presentation of Psalm 51,” said senior Shannon Spargo. “Professor Wallace showed us the value of engaging Scripture in different ways.”


Class protocol

Normally, Introduction to the Arts is divided into four half-semester options, with each student taking two of the four sections. All students and professors meet together at the half way point to explore an aspect of art from the perspective of all four arts.  This year’s schedule gave an extra day to the first session and professors decided to connect it to Lent.

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