Kerry Jackson is an artist. He is also a church planter.
Early in his childhood he discovered his passion for art. His pursuit for more knowledge and skill led him to obtain a Bachelor of Arts degree in Painting from Mississippi State University. After several years working in the commercial art industry, he opened his own art studio called KBJ Studios. After six successful years, Kerry felt called by God to become a minister. Kerry sold his business and moved his family to Texas to attend Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary where he recieved the Masters of Communication Arts.
After graduation from seminary, Kerry accepted the position of Exhibit Designer with the North American Mission Board in Atlanta, Georgia. In 2006, Kerry and his wife, Twyla, were commissioned as Mission Service Corps missionaries. They currently live in downtown Atlanta where Kerry serves as lead church planter/pastor of Bezalel Church … a creative community of faith.
To see examples of Kerry’s art and ministry, check out Drawing to the Rock Ministries.
I asked Kerry to spend a little time thinking with me about creativity, art, and our faith.
PN: You have been an artist for many years. When did it start? What triggered your desire to make beautiful things?
I’ve always loved art. As a kid, I used to draw on the church bulletins and Mama would try to make me stop because she thought I wasn’t paying attention. Little did she know how drawing was my way of focusing on what was being said. Realizing as a young child that I was gifted in art made want to pursue even more.
PN: Art is often a solitary journey, how do you know when something beautiful has been accomplished?
One is trained in art school to know “when it is finished.” But for me, I just have a deep feeling that the piece is one and it’s time to stop.
PN: In our modern culture, much of what we call art is expressed as music. What are some of the unnoticed ways that creativity can be expressed through the church and with our faith?
The church has done well in celebrating and promoting music as the way lead in worship. But’s it’s certainly not the only way. Visual art (drawing, painting, sculpture, etc.), dance, theater, written and spoken word, photography, and videography and other disciplines that need to be included in the corporate worship setting.
PN: What is the role of discipline (or work ethic) when it comes to beauty and creativity?
Just like in anything we do, we should expect and work with excellence when it comes to our creativity. That means studying and practicing to better our skills so that we can bring glory to God through the gift He has given us.
PN: Are there biblical guidelines or principles that we need to observe when engaging in art? Are there any parts that should be off-limits in expressing our faith?
Freedom in Christ is there for us as artists as long as we are abiding in Him in regard to our art. With freedom comes responsibility. One should be careful not create something that would cause our brother or sister to stumble.
PN: Are there such things as “creatives”? I guess I’m just wondering if there is any hope for people like me.
One thing we teach at Bezalel Church is that we are created in the image of God… the Master Artisit! Therefore, we all have creativity within us. It’s just expressed differently.
PN: Beauty is a concept that seems to be embraced by artisans and sometimes ignored by theologians. What does the academy need to learn from the poets?
Not to put God in the proverbial box.
PN: OK. So what do poets need to learn from the theologians?
See them as creative in their own right.
PN: How do you remain in a posture so that you God is the inspiration of your art rather than creation becoming your muse?
It’s a constant battle due to my flesh overcoming my desires to abide in Christ. With excellence comes accolades… then pride comes into play. Asking God to help you remain humble as you strive to bring glory to Him is a daily thing.
PN: Artists often use the word “revelation” in a way different from theologians. What do you mean in the use of that word?
Not so much different for me. God reveals images to me for the purpose of communicating His beauty and message.
PN: How can the church better engage the artists and arts community in their city?
I’d offer three ideas:
- The church needs to find ways to serve its local arts community. There’s myriad of ways to do that help the artists be successful. This will go along way to breaking down walls that have been built up for centuries.
- The church can start to once again be a patron of the arts. Purchase art that will help bring God glory and help the aesthetics of the church facility.
- Use the church to offer creative arts classes since they are being removed from our public schools.
PN: Thanks for spending some time with us on these ideas.