Calling all artists

Episcopal Church and Visual Arts (ECVA) has issued a call for art to express Ubuntu, the theme of General Convention 2009:

The call of this exhibit is to express Ubuntu through the particular type of public narrative that is image—that is art. As an artist, you are invited to weave together the threads of your personal and our communal story to create a compelling and hope-filled image, or series of images, that will express the meaning and application of Ubuntu in a way that awakens a new awareness of mission and in a way that invites and challenges your viewers to action.

Ubuntu is an African term meaning that what makes us human is the humanity we show each other. It speaks of a relational worldview that sees humanity as a web of family rather than a mass of individuals. Ubuntu, then, can be seen as a way of taking the sense of connection and caring we feel within whatever groups we share (for example, families, schools, churches) and extending it to include those beyond our group borders, so that those borders disappear.

Like Christ, Ubuntu invites us to build bridges to each other, to tear down the barriers that separate us, to release the past and engage the future as a creative response to the challenges of living as One Body. Bonnie Anderson, President, House of Deputies and chair of the General Convention’s Joint Committee on Planning and Arrangements, explains the connection between Ubuntu and Christianity in this way:

“As Episcopalians and Christians,we seek not only to love our neighbors as ourselves, but to internalize that love of neighbor so that it becomes a part of our very being.”

According to Cape Town Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, someone who models Ubuntu is:

…open and available to others, affirming of others, and does not feel threatened that others are able and good, for he or she has a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole and is diminished when others are humiliated or diminished, when others are tortured or oppressed.

In preparation for the General Convention and during the convention, the themes

of Ubuntu, Identity, and Mission will be explored using PUBLIC NARRATIVE:

… a leadership art that can be used by members of the Episcopal Church to articulate the call to action that is rooted in one’s own journey and that of one’s community.

Artistic images can play a unique role as a public narrative—expressing the story of self in the context of community and building that into an urgent call to hope and action that functions at the imaginal level, going beyond words to the heart. If we stand, as individuals and as a community, at a choice point—if each moment is a choice point, what is it that we choose? How do we act, and what is our desired outcome? If we act with a sense of Ubuntu, what would the action and outcome look like?

So what would that look like to you?

What can an image or series of images express about who we are as individuals and as a community, and how, together, we are called to embody this sense of Ubuntu?

Your image will link some concept of self (how you have been called) and community (your perception of its shared purpose and values) with a proposal for action (the challenge, the choice, and the potential outcome) that conveys both a sense of urgency and a renewed commitment to mission.

Your image will be accompanied by an artist statement in which you will answer (in no more than 250 words) one of the following questions:

In the context of your own understanding of Ubuntu,

1. How does the mission of understanding and communicating Ubuntu speak to you?

2. What does this image created by you say about the Episcopal Church, what it believes, what we as a community are called to, and why?

3. What does this image created by you say about what we are called to as a community, the choices we are called to make, and the hope to which we aspire?

CURATOR, Diane Walker


The Rev. Brian Prior

The Rev. Paul Fromberg

The Rev. Melford (Bud) Holland

The Rev. Robert Two Bulls


The Very Rev. Canon Dr. Michael J. Battle

The Rev. Fran Toy


Bonnie Anderson

President, House of Deputies

Artists who are members of THE ARTISTS REGISTRY at ECVA may submit from one to three images. These images must be in either GIF or JPEG format and sized so that they are at least 600 pixels on the longest side at a resolution of 72 pixels-per-inch (ppi).

Images must be sent in an e-mail (one image per e-mail) along with an artist statement for that image. The statement should answer (in no more than 250 words) one of the questions stated in this Call. Also include in the e-mail, your name as you wish it to appear in the exhibition and the title of the image as you wish it to appear. The subject line of the e-mail should contain your name and “ECVA Imaging Ubuntu Exhibition,” along with an image number designation (for example: 1 of 1; 1 of 3; or 3 of 3, etc.) depending on the number of entries you will submit. Do not use previous ECVA entry forms.

Please note: Images submitted for this Call must not have been shown in a previous ECVA Exhibition. By submitting entries for this exhibition, you agree that we may use

the images on the ECVA Web site, in printed and visual promotional material produced by ECVA; in the ECVA Newsletter; at Episcopal Cafe; and at Image & Spirit.

Entries must be sent to If you have questions, please send them to


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