On March 19 and 20, 2013, artist Bryn Gillette, whose artwork is on display in Cairn’s Connie A. Eastburn Gallery until the first week of May, visited campus to share with students in class and in chapel. Gillette is currently working on a series of 12 doors called Haiti – Beyond the Ruins. As he sees it, his work in the series is “painting glimpses of Haiti as it is and glimpses of Haiti as prayerfully I believe it can and should be. Beyond the Ruins is my personal digestion of God’s kingdom come in the moment we live in.”
Tuesday evening, Gillette joined students from Cairn’s Introduction to Painting course, taught by Andrea Fiori, director of the Arts & Culture First Year Program. He shared with them over dinner and then took them to the gallery where he gave them an artist’s tour of his work on display. He then joined them in the art studio where he gave a demonstration of technique using a painting he is currently working on.
On Wednesday morning, Gillette was introduced in chapel by Travis Webber, a member of the Campus Services staff, who lived in Haiti for 18 months before coming to Cairn. As program manager for the Samaritan’s Purse Rubble Removal Program, Webber was part of a team of Americans and Haitians working to clean up following the earthquake. “Our first goal was to share the Word of God with the people of Haiti,” Webber said. “It’s a hard way to witness to people when they’re watching their house get torn down, but we would pray with them and give them a Creole Bible. In every Bible I handed out, I wrote Psalm 91.” The team also worked to build roads, using the rubble as the foundation, and to build orphanages and clinics. They also provided training in heavy equipment operation to nationals.
Gillette, who has been worked in partnership with contacts in Haiti since 2008, is the co-founder of TeamOne:27, a non-profit dedicated to serving the needs of Haitian orphans, and spends the majority of his artistic time as an advocate and champion of the needs of his Haitian “family.”
During Chapel, Gillette shared with the student body a broad-scope overview of the meta-narrative of history, informed by the Kingdom of God. “So often we’re caught up in details of everyday life and we can’t see the forest for the trees,” he said. After giving a sweeping overview of how God has worked throughout history, he challenged the students to consider, on the grand scale, the day in which we live. “Science, warfare, global technology, and art are going through the biggest renaissance in history, but we can’t even see it. You stand at a point in history where your decisions, your life, and our collective ability as the Bride of Christ to host His kingdom right now will do more to impact the next five hundred years of history than anything before has.”
He finished with these thoughts as a benediction to the students: “Should the Lord tarry, I want history to look back at this point and say, ‘The Church, as a bride, realized who she was, put her armor on, and started bringing the Kingdom in power.’ It’s your job now. May you know your place in the meta-narrative. May you collectively know how beautiful you are as the Bride of Christ. May we, as a unified global church, the body of Christ, be His agents of the Kingdom to the world. May we shape the next trajectory of where the world goes.”