Bay Area Artist Drew McSherry's contemplative pieces will be on display during the season of Lent.
By Hilary Orzel
Drew McSherry is just beginning to share his paintings with churches, and he has a special purpose in this. "In history, churches have always been a haven for the arts. Artists who laid the foundation for the development of Western art, like Michelangelo, Titian, and Caravaggio, were all patroned by the churches." Today, music is a big part of church, just as it was in history. Fine art, however, seems to have lost some importance.
Bringing fine art back into churches will make church more accessible to people, according to Drew. "I believe that more people would be drawn to church and you would see a broader audience." Drew also sees painting as a way to make religious stories more personal and meaningful for individuals. "Art teaches people to appreciate different visions and ideas. Art does not judge people."
Among the many pieces that will be shown at the church during Lent, eight will tell the story of "An Old Man with Enormous Wings." They are about an angel who walks the earth, but who doesn't look like a typical angel. He is skinny, old, and has raggedy wings. People treat him like an animal and an object, gawking at him.
"This story asks the questions, 'Would you recognize an angel if you saw one?' 'Would you recognize Jesus if you saw Him?'" says Drew. "This will get people to open their minds to the idea that there is more than just one rigid way of looking at stories in the Bible."
Other pieces that will be shown in Watsonville include contemplative portraits, where Drew explores a range of human expressions and feelings.
"I think this exhibit is important for a number of reasons," says the pastor of Watsonville First, the Rev. Robin Mathews-Johnson. "First off, we all need to prepare spiritually for Easter, and artwork during Lent can help us enter into that reflective process. Plus, we are inspired by artistic expression such as Drew's.
"We also hope to share this art show with our congregation and our neighbors, because artwork such as this, in our view, crosses barriers of language, culture, and class. In a way, art speaks all languages.
"Lastly, as a congregation we see this exhibit as a way to model new connections with folks from the broader community with whom we do not usually get to interact – including, specifically, young adults such as Hilary and Drew. This age group is a target demographic now for The United Methodist Church and our Conference, and we are excited about working with them both."
Drew started painting at the age of five and loved it right away. When other kids lost interest in painting after a few minutes, Drew couldn't stop. "It was beyond a simple interest," he says, "It became a part of me."
His interest and special gifts with art took him to Loyola Marymount as an undergraduate student, where he studied art of many mediums. Eventually, Drew received his Masters in Fine Art from the Art Academy in San Francisco.
Drew offers some tips to help his art become more meaningful to observers. "I encourage people, when they're looking at my art, to look at it for what it is. Don't worry about what I was thinking. Think about what it means to you."
It's such a wonderful opportunity for us to incorporate spirituality into artwork. I believe the exhibit will be something that helps many people have inspired Lent journeys!
NOTE: Drew McSherry wants to make his art available to other churches. If you're interested in hanging religious art in your church during any season, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at 650.771.3683.