That’s what we keep saying as we look back on our first “official” year. Our dream at InSpero is to seek out and care for creative community so we can bring beauty and hope to the city we love. It’s happening, not only in the big events that touch all parts of our city, but also through our small ongoing community-cultivating activities and speakers.
InSpero’s inaugural event was an open-invitation art show, “50 Years of Hopes and Dreams,” with artists from around the city creating around the themes of forgiveness, healing and reconciliation as we remembered the 50th anniversary of the Sixteenth Street Church bombing. It opened with a city-wide prayer breakfast at the Mosaic Church at the Avon Theater. Cahaba Brewery hosted the art show, along with a children’s display, through the month of September 2013 and singer-songwriter Gabriel Tajeu played for the opening reception on September 6.
“Thy Love Inspires,” held on November 10 at Leeds Presbyterian Church, was a special night of new and old hymns from well-known local songwriters and musicians. They included Corey Nolen, Adam Wright, Stokes and Connie Skellie, Chandler Parker, Keith Davis, and Landon Rogan. InSpero is excited to help host this event for the second year. It will be held at Leeds Presbyterian Church on November 9, 2014 and the public is welcome.
Leeds Presbyterian also hosted InSpero’s Advent offering on December 1. Creation Waits featured singer-songwriter Jenny Pruitt and artist Gina Hurry. It featured traditional Advent hymns with new arrangements and original music from Jenny fueled by her meditations on Old and New Testament truths of the coming Christ. “These songs come from a deep longing to slow down and refocus on the reality of Christmas.”
Gina painted live in response to the music. “The Advent season to me is like a passage way between two worlds, inviting us to slow down and pay attention,” says Hurry. There was a question and answer time with the audience after the event.
InSpero will offer another Advent offering of music and art featuring Jenny and Gina on November 30, 2014. The public is invited and more details will follow.
InSpero collaborated with West Elm at the Summit to present BraveHearts: Becoming Who You Really Are Art Show in February. It featured five InSpero artists (Amy Grimes, Gina Hurry, Melanie Morris, Sally Powell and Tricia Robinson). West Elm opened the show with a wine and cheese reception on February 13 and the art was displayed through the month.
Through our Easter People Facebook page and our InSpero website, we offered a 40-day Lenten devotional exploring the biblical themes of light and darkness called “No Longer Afraid of the Dark…or the Light” with images of original art from area artists and meditations written by Nancy Carroll.
We finished our first year with a unique Pentecost offering on June 8 at Oak Mountain Presbyterian Church. “Hearing in Their Own Languages: A Pentecost Conversation about the Role of the Holy Spirit, Beauty, and the Arts in the Church” included original art by more than 40 artists, music by Jenny Pruitt, dance by Alisa McCool and company, and a conversation between artists and pastors led by Dr. Gordon Bals of Daymark Counseling.
To prepare for the public Pentecost conversation, InSpero invited six local pastors and six artists (a sculptor, actor, painter, writer, photographer and musician) to a beautiful feast prepared by Gianmarco’s Michael Brady at the Clubhouse on Highland in May. They talked about how art can be better used in the church and how the church can better understand artists.
InSpero spent the year gathering, nurturing, and inspiring artists and “creatives.” A small group of artists met monthly for soul care, conversations, meals and shared projects. In January, a group of 15 artists had a retreat at Purcell Farms. InSpero hosted a one-day Lenten retreat in March at a beautiful farmhouse to prepare artists for the Lenten season and challenge them to use that time to create.
“Healing is impossible in loneliness; it is the opposite of loneliness. Conviviality is healing. To be healed we must come with all the other creatures to the feast of Creation. " -Wendell Berry
We also had the privilege of hosting speakers who challenged us on the calling of creativity. InSpero, in conjunction with Urban Avenues, hosted Steven Garber in the fall and Kate Harris in the Spring. Rick Holladay from the Art Factory in Germany spoke in the winter and Berenice Rarig from Australia inspired us in April.
This past year has shown us how much beauty matters to our city and to our churches. It also shows us how much those who create beauty matter. We’re excited that we will host Thy Love Inspires in November and will continue to highlight events around Advent, Lent/Easter and Pentecost.
Our ultimate dream is for a PLACE of beauty as our HOME.
A place of hospitality and welcome--of nurture and rest, a place to offer as a gift to those artists, pastors and creatives who need to be restored.
A PLACE for community and feasting, a picture of HEAVEN.
PLEASE HOPE AND PRAY WITH US FOR THIS DREAM TO BECOME A REALITY.
The Inspero "vision" has unfolded organically and we have been surprised and stretched by the opportunities and extravagant beauty we've had the privilege of walking into and creating.
So many hearts and hands have been involved from the very beginning. We are thankful for each of you, for our Board of Advisors who have so gracefully entered into our story, and for our place at Clerestory, Inc. Thank you for carrying us, praying for us, helping us, encouraging and dreaming with us.
Join with us as we long to see Birmingham flourish as the City Beautiful as a result of these small things done slowly over long periods of time. We need our village to keep believing in the value and power of beauty to bring hope and healing to this broken world.
“These are the truest truths of the universe: we do not flourish as human beings when we know no one and no one knows us; we do not flourish as human beings when we belong to no place and no place cares about us. When we have no sense of relationship to people or place, we have no sense of responsibility to people or place." - Steven Garber, Visions of Vocation
Know this place with us.
Love this place with us.
Celebrate this place with us through the eyes, hands, voices and hearts of our artists and creatives.
Savor with us the good they are making.
Pray for us, hope and dream with us.
Be part of our upcoming events.
And finally, support us! Click below to give tax-deductible donations and respond below in our comment section to find ways to help us in our many dreams and events:
It was at Rivendell the hobbits think through the vocation they have been given, carefully working out the who and what and where of the odyssey that will be theirs. But integral to all that they were, and to all that they would need to be, was the table at Rivendell, a place for the best conversations and the best food and the best drink — simply said, a wonder of wonders." Steve Garber
The never-ending hope of Easter, Writer Andrew Shaughnessy shares reflections on Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and why hope and beauty matter. "We hope because we know a day is coming when, to paraphrase Sam in The Lord of the Rings, “everything sad will come untrue,” when our Creator King will dry every tear and bind up the broken hearts and restore the sundered cities and turn the world upside down."