Saturday, June 22, 2013

Latest Painting by Aboriginal Christian Artist Safina Stewart

Manna Gum by Safina Stewart

The painting above is the latest by Aboriginal Christian Artist Safina Stewart, who I've featured previously here at Indigenous Jesus– go Safina!  She posted the image June 5th on her Facebook page and included the following description:
Just thought you all might like to know what's been keeping me busy lately. I've been working on a number of commissions. One of which I unveiled with the Mayor, Cr. Jim Child, and presented at the Yarra Ranges Reconciliation lunch yesterday! 
The Shire of the Yarra Ranges and their Indigenous Advisory Committee commissioned me to paint this "Manna Gum". There is a deep story in this painting. In a sense it is a self-portrait of our local Indigenous community - a metaphor for how we see ourselves and how we interpret our Ways of Being as an urban contemporary Indigenous community. Everything in it has a special meaning and reminder. It was awesome speaking about the story and journey in painting it. The Manna Gum is characterized by its resilience and endurance - a perfect image to represent our Indigenous community. This is a piece of purpose, hope and pride. 
The Shire of Yarra Ranges launched their new Reconciliation Action Plan yesterday at the lunch. My artwork has been used throughout the RAP booklet (looks too deadly!) My Mum, Doseena Fergie, was one of the guest speakers and was so inspiring, challenging and engaging. On ya, Ma! 
The original (3x5 feet) will hang in the Yarra Ranges Council Chambers when it is not on tour in other exhibitions. So keep and eye out for it if you are a local on Wurundjeri country! 
Safina also posted a wonderful short video showing her painting Manna Gum, which is really great because you get to see how she applies the paint (sometimes with her hands) and her struggle to bring the image out of her mind and onto the canvas.  I really liked seeing the close-ups of the detailed patterns as she applies them to the trunk of the tree and the soil beneath the tree's roots.  Safina writes that the "actual painting took...6mths of planning, thinking and stewing over ideas and then about 10 days of painting scattered over 2 months. The life of a mother and artist, eh!"  She even filmed and edited the video herself!  Congratulations and great work Safina!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Upcoming Book of Australian Aboriginal Christian Art

Painting of the three crosses by Anangu artist Yvonne-Edwards.

Dating from September 2012, this article profiles the author/compiler of an upcoming book on Australian Aboriginal Christian art, Christobel Mattingley.

The article states, "Together with Bible Society Australia’s Remote and Indigenous Ministry team, Mattingley is working on compiling a book of Aboriginal art with biblical subject matter. Artists are invited to submit works which depict a Bible story which has meaning for them. Altogether, the book will include about 100 images."

Mattingley goes on to say that "Pictures speak to everyone. I’m hoping that this book will speak to everyone, and contribute towards the long slow process of reconciliation. I believe that reconciliation can’t be imposed from above. It has to start in the hearts of each individual person. This book may light the spark that leads to a true spirit of reconciliation."

There is no indication as to when the book will be published.  Mattingley writes on her blog that "it takes time to try to spread the word about the project, so if you know any Aboriginal artists, please tell them about it and ask them to get in touch with me or Louise Sherman at the Bible Society."

If you would like more information about the project or to submit an artwork, email

To read an article about the recent National Reconciliation Week in Australia written by Christian blogger Josh Dowton, click here.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Contextualized Mongolian Banner Update

In 2011 I posted about a worship celebration in Mongolia that commemorated 20 years of the Gospel in Mongolia.  The organizers of the event made nine contextualized banners that used two different Mongolian alphabets and cultural symbols.  One of the banners was based on a bowl painting of mine called Risen Lord of Heaven and Earth. The banner itself was called "Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life" and was based on John 14:6.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Global Christian Worship - A Sinful Woman Washes Jesus’ Feet: Chinese, Japanese, Mayan, Cameroonian art

The latest post over at Paul Neeley's Global Christian Worship blog is "A Sinful Woman Washes Jesus’ Feet: Chinese, Japanese, Mayan, Cameroonian Art," which includes four nonwestern images inspired by this Sunday's Gospel reading in the Lectionary, Luke 7:36-8:3.  The artwork depicted is by Chinese artist He Qi, the Jesus Mafa artist, Sadao Watanabe of Japan, and the last by yours truly.  Check them out!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Searching for a Practical Theology of Contextualization

I've been spending a lot of the last month or so working on my shade garden, hence the lack of posts here on Indigenous Jesus.  However one thing that I've been thinking about in the back of my mind for some time is the subject of a theology of contextualization. I have a few books on contextualization (see below), but was wondering if there is a standout book that both discusses the theological background of the subject along with practical missiological examples, especially if they relate at all to the arts. I know that a lot has been written on contextualization, which makes it a bit difficult to narrow down to just one or two books.

I do think, however, that a theological foundation is essential to engaging in the practice of contextualization in ministry. And until or unless I take some theology classes on the subject, I'd like some thought-provoking reading that might help pull together all of the various strands– history, theology, examples– and give a practical, working theology of contextualization.

The books that I own are:
Contextualization in the New Testament: Patterns for Theology and Mission by Dean Flemming
Contextualization: A Theology of Gospel and Culture by Bruce J. Nicholls
Contextualization: Meanings, Methods, and Models by David J. Hesselgrave and Edward Rommen

The most recent new title I've seen is Contextualization in World Missions: Mapping and Assessing Evangelical Models by A. Scott Moreau, who teaches in the Missions and Intercultural Studies Department at Wheaton College. It looks very thorough and may be what I'm looking for.  Has anyone read it?

Other books on contextualization that I'm aware of are:
Christianity In Culture: A Study In Dynamic Biblical Theologizing In Cross-cultural Perspective by Charles H. and Marguerite G. Kraft
Contextualization and Syncretism: Navigating Cultural Currents by Gailyn Van Rheenen
Models of Contextual Theology (Faith and Cultures Series) by Stephen B. Bevans

Any other suggestions or insights? Thanks!