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Pinterest? Uninterest?

I tend to be a bit wary of trends that get too popular too fast. Pinterest, the online social networking app for collecting and sharing ideas visually, was one I was certain wasn’t a good thing—especially for “serious” artists working with visuals for worship. Serious artists—that’s us, right?

As I planned this article in my head, I knew I would have to mention the cheesy crafts (too many of which involve burlap and pallet wood), the annoying sponsored content, and the sometimes-sly way these social networking apps are designed to feed you a steady diet of what you told it you liked. It’s like having a friend who always tells you what you want to hear: not always good for you.

Another Look

When I got around to writing, though, I figured I’d better take another look to make sure my previous notions were correct. Doing a search using the words “worship” and “visual” and “banner” did indeed turn up a bunch of less-than-great ideas, but more than a few caught my eye. One was designer Jeremy Kennedy’s “Light” wall created for Summit Church in Orlando, Florida, a church he’s been a member of for the last dozen years or so. Based on John 1:5 (“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it”), it’s definitely “crafty,” using an age-old technique of string wound around nails, but the colors and the overall look are fresh and beautifully executed.

The artist’s statement isn’t bad either:

If you look closely, the word “Light” is constructed from hundreds of points that each take[s its] own path around this wall. Over time, each of these points became connected with another, then another, weaving in and through the other points around the wall. The result has created something bigger than any point could have made on [its] own.

We are the points. We’re connect[ed] beings, made for community with each other and with God. In Matthew 5:14, Jesus declares that “You are the light of the world, a city built on a hill cannot be hidden.” This “light” is made up of millions of believers around the world. We’re set apart and we can’t be hidden anymore. So shine.

Wondering if anyone notices your great work? Kennedy told me the installation was originally planned to be displayed for a month or two, but everyone fell in love with it and it stayed up for nearly a year. The installation was adapted for one of the church’s satellite campuses, and it became the inspiration for a sermon series with workbooks and more borrowing from this installation’s look.

Working the Network

Okay, so maybe I was a little quick to judge Pinterest. If you search Pinterest for “Summit light wall,” you’ll no doubt find Jeremy’s design, but following it is any number of designs that use smaller things—from nails and string to light bulbs, plastic bottles, and straight pins—to make a larger whole. The trick is to get past the possibly tacky use of these things but not so far past that you can’t imagine the technique being adapted to the design challenge at hand.

That’s what serious artists do, right? They take what is obvious to everyone else and reinterpret it in a new way that just begs for a second look—kind of like my initial distaste for Pinterest.