Written by Allie Sampson
Photographed JD Gravitt
The 18 Inch Journey is built on the pillars of Creativity, Community and Worship. Though it isn’t necessarily an art school, we do a lot of art. We love creativity in all forms. We are a community of photographers, artists, writers, musicians, cinematographers, chefs, bookmakers and dancers. What we love most about art is the way that it is so expressive of the heart. Art, in all true forms, is a mirror that reflects what is going on inside of the heart of the artist.
Every Tuesday and Friday, our students participate in a rotation that we call Art/Heart. During this time, the students are split into two groups. The first group spends the first half of the time in an art class with Justina while the second group spends the time in a session where one of the staff members shares something they wrote for the Eighteen Inch Journey book. The students spend an hour and a half in the session and then switch—the students who were in Art go to the Heart session, and the students in the Heart session make their way to Art.
In the art classes, the students typically spend time working in their history books. History books are an artistic tradition at the 18 Inch Journey. A history book is a space to creatively log your history with the Lord. In the art sessions, Justina along with the Art Interns, Kateland and Lindsay, teach art lessons on color theory, line quality and technique. Additionally, the students are given various art assignments, referred to as prompts, to explore their heart and the work of their hands. These lessons and prompts are completed in the students’ history books. Some of the students that come to the Journey are art majors and others have never held a paintbrush in their hand. There are all levels of experience, and in the art barn, all of the students are working alongside one another creating and discovering who they truly are as artists.
In the heart session, the students have an opportunity to hear from one of our staff members and learn more about their personal journey and experience. Each session, a different staff member leads the students through a piece that they submitted to the Eighteen Inch Journey book. The Journey students get a chance to listen and ask questions and are often given a prompt to complete in their journal. At the last Art/Heart session, Chris Miller shared on the Goodness of God and his experience of hearing from a farmer at an orange grove in Valencia, FL (pg. 49 of the Eighteen Inch Journey book). Chris then released the students to craft a prayer to the Father about His Goodness.
We have found that these times we’ve set aside for Art and Heart are a beautiful way that the students are finding themselves coming more and more alive. They are simultaneously discovering their true identity and from that, they are unearthing their identity as artists. They are choosing to let the Father soften their hearts and are bravely embracing the creativity of the Trinity and in doing so, they are becoming so vibrant and full of life.