The artist Georgia O’Keefe claimed, “I found I could say things with colors that I couldn’t say in any other way—things that I had no words for.” History stands as a witness to this artistic vision, poured out through painting, sculpture, dance, music, literature, architecture, film, and photography. On April 8–10, Cairn University and Harvey Cedars Bible Conference hosted the CREATE conference, a weekend arts retreat for high school students. More than two dozen students and several Cairn faculty, staff, and alumni gathered together to celebrate the arts and explore how an understanding of human creativity heightens the learning experience.
The conference was kicked off Friday night with a general session from keynote speaker, Assistant Professor Chris Palladino ’94. After reading a passage from Genesis, Palladino proceeded with a lecture on creation, redemption, beauty, forms of art and expression, and the approaches to creativity. He also posed questions which served as topics for group discussion.
On Saturday morning, students broke out into three different tracks: Creative Writing (led by part-time faculty members Charlotte Gleason ’02 and Amy Dunlap ’07), Studio Art (led by Professor Andrea Fiori), and Film & Photography (led by Michael Rothermel ’14 and Sarah Zimmerman ’04/G’12).
Buoyed by the charge and the early morning discussions, students took to their craft. Before long, the cinematography students were outside recording rain drops and the sounds of the ocean for their artistic adaptation of The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe. Meanwhile, visual arts students learned and applied a variety of new techniques such as encaustic painting, screen printing on silk, and sketching. After an inspiring discussion, the creative writing students worked on plot and character development of short stories and novel concepts. In the evening, some students continued their pursuits, while others opted for a viewing of The Monuments Men.
Sunday morning began with a beautiful sunrise and a leisurely breakfast as students anticipated the climax of the weekend: The Showcase. The main meeting room, transformed into a gallery, was bedecked with the artwork of the visual arts students. The creative writing team debriefed the rest of the group in a panel format and the cinematography students presented a screening of their haunting rendition. The morning session was truly a celebration of who God has made us to be.
Special thanks to John Bolton of HCBC and Saritha (Petthongpoon) Rothermel ’12/G’15 of Cairn University for casting the vision and organizing the event; the Cairn faculty, staff, and alumni for leading the breakout tracks; and Heather Palladino for assisting as a consultant.
We look forward to future conferences to come!
Article by Chris Palladino
Photography by Saritha Rothermel