Shining Through

Since I first saw pictures of Janet Echelman’s sculpture made from thirty-five miles—yes, miles—of technical fiber hanging over a park in Greensboro, North Carolina, I’ve been thinking of ways to capture some of the same airy, flame-like look for a Pentecost visual for worship.

What if we strung netting of some sort—dyed or left natural—from floor to ceiling? But to keep it from looking like a spiderweb, it needs an anchor of some sort—something to give it focus and a purpose.

Inspiration Everywhere

I’m sure you’re like me: Design problems float around in your head until they are solved or discarded as undoable or impractical or are no longer interesting enough to solve. The flowing lines of this black-and-white poster by designer and technologist John Maeda caught my eye—and solved a design problem. The shapes here appear to be computer-generated letters morphed along a flowing line. What if we created a word out of foamcore or Masonite board and draped our netting from and/or behind it? But what word? Ζωή; life? Πνεῦμα might also be good. It’s Greek for wind, breath, spirit. It also has some nice shapes: πνεῦμα

Of course, the word could also be “SPIRIT,” or “PENTECOST,” but there’s something intriguing about an unrecognizable word for this purpose. You’ll want to explain what it means, of course—but maybe do that after folks are given some time to wonder about it.

Down in Front

One potential problem for this idea is the way many of our worship spaces are laid out: There’s likely a projector or flat screen in the way. But is that a bad thing? What if the word was projected through the netting—or displayed on a flat screen behind the net?

It’s high time that big, bright rectangle gets integrated into the space around it.

Dean Heetderks ( is art director of Reformed Worship and director of Proservices for the Christian Reformed Church.