The World Needs Christian Makers

You are not alone in your longing for sound theology and robust making. The Maker Institute of Studio Art and Theology is here to help you grow in both.

“All things are transparent manifestations of His power and wisdom. It is the very nature of creation that the whole world is like a burning bush even though we walk around all the time with our shoes on.”
- Calvin G. Seerveld

Art and Design are not ultimate, yet they are pervasive with inestimable impact, value, and human-flourishing effects.

All things in our cultural life have been influenced, affected, and shaped by art and design,including the clothes we wear, the cars we drive, the home we live in, the plates we eat from, the typography that enables us to read, and the aesthetics that permeate most of our life.

Christian Makers commonly feel they must choose between their identity in Christ and their identity as an artist.

The Church has created a dilemma that leaves many stalled on choosing between devotion to their Maker or making. This is a false dilemma. Our identity in Christ and our work are not at odds. The world withers if we remain confused, stalled, and absent.

Without the gift of Art and Design, we would be left naked and starving to death in a desert.

Often stuck in a tension between secular art education/practices and theological training, many Christian makers lack the know-how and confidence to be effectively faithfully present, leaving massive holes in our shared experience for others outside of Christ to fill.

Art and Design are not ultimate, yet they are pervasive with inestimable impact, value, and human-flourishing effects.

All things in our cultural life have been influenced, affected, and shaped by art and design. Including the clothes we wear, the cars we drive, the home we live in, the plates we eat from, the typography that enables us to read, and the aesthetics that permeate most of our life.

Christian Makers commonly feel they must choose between their identity in Christ and their identity as an artist.

The Church has created a dilemma that leaves many stalled on choosing between devotion to their Maker or making. This is a false dilemma. Our identity in Christ and our work are not at odds. The world withers if we remain confused, stalled, and absent.

Without the gift of Art and Design, we would be left naked and starving to death in a desert.

Often stuck in a tension between secular art education/practices and theological training, many Christian makers lack the know-how and confidence to be effectively faithfully present, leaving massive holes in our shared experience for others outside of Christ to fill.

The Maker Institute of Studio Art and Theology develops theologically-minded, adept culture makers who faithfully seek to glorify Christ in all things. The Maker Institute believes the fullness of a maker comes forth when the heart, head, and hands are working together in unison. Therefore, our approach includes sound theological training, robust professional and studio practicum, and applied spiritual formation.

Heart
Discerning one’s calling as a maker is often tricky but of critical importance. The heart of a Christian is new upon salvation; a new heart comes with new desires and giftings to match. The confounding pressure for art to serve artists as a functional identity idol has had damaging effects on Christians in the arts. Makers must find clarity regarding their desires so that we can bring Christ glory and love neighbors well instead of being frustrated as we try to force making art in ways that are not according to our calling or the identity Christ has richly provided us.
Head
Whether in one’s devotions, academic-theological studies, Bible reading, cultural anthropology, or practically in the studio, makers must steward the life of their minds well. Abraham Kuyper famously stated, “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, ‘Mine!'” The rule and reign of Jesus affirm that the quandary between sacred and secular is no longer a core problem that Christian makers must contend with constantly. That said, it follows that “All of life, for all of Christ,” entails ongoing theological development. All of life and creation are sacred, including vocation and calling in the arts. How we think concerning God, art, and design must be tended to and cultivated. As artists and makers, we must not opt-out of lifelong learning.
Hands
The incarnation of Christ, with His grace-filled, sin-atoning work and forgiveness on the cross, coupled with the gift of new creation demonstrated by His resurrection, has manifold implications for our work as artists and designers. Firstly, it means the physical world can be worked with and made much of with our hands and that God cares deeply about physicality and the quality of what we make. Secondly, Christian makers must spend more time learning to make with excellence by demanding more from themselves regarding relevant skills and know-how. Thirdly, knowledge of the physical world and its effects is paramount. Christians should look to what Christ has made so that they might learn to employ such effects in ways that seek human flourishing and follow after the artistic and design patterns found in God’s good creation.

Through our two-year program, which includes group courses and individualized mentorship, you will gain a renewed sense of the meaningful role of Art and Design in shaping and stewarding culture to the glory of Christ. You will learn to cultivate reality in a way that ignites the imagination of a dying world to the hope found in Christ and reignites the imagination of your local church to its glorious participation with the work of Jesus in the world.

God calls His Church to lead the charge when making, thinking, and speaking about all things as all things are affected by the gospel, including art, design, and culture. We want the world to see what Christ has to offer through His Church as we seek to honor His Lordship in all ways with greater degrees of clarity and creative flourishing. A robust theology understands that all things are under the rule of Jesus and that no area is free of His will and Lordship. Rightly knowing God will free our creative output in ways that genuinely flourish our surroundings.
Our vision is to see Christians who are visual artists, designers, and makers, deeply rooted in the local Church, make art with excellence across all spheres of influence. These makers will not be marked by a particular style or mode of making; instead, they will be marked by their excellent theological knowledge, increasing know-how, and visionary faithfully-present impact on a watching world through their creative outworkings. They will be disciples who love Christ and their neighbors as themselves through their makerly production and people who are able to teach and advance Christ’s Gospel Kingdom with humility, mercy, grace, and truth.
Our faculty comprises Christian makers educated in top-tier arts and research institutions across North America. These educator-makers have been full-time professors teaching in the country’s best programs, consulting universities on curricular innovation and how to think about art and design, and so much more while maintaining studio practices, running galleries, and generating opportunities for other artists throughout the globe.
We live in a unique time requiring a fresh way to think through know-how and what we do with it. Whether you are just out of high school or graduated with a BA, BFA, or MFA- this program is for you. Perhaps you are working as a university professor and need enrichment- this is for you. Maybe you are working as a practitioner in your field but need more- this program is for you. Are you someone with no formal education or training but a strong desire to operate practically and theologically at a high level? The Maker Institute exists for you. The Maker Institute offers a certificate of completion and ongoing alumni resources. In this hybrid two-year model, as a Maker Fellow you will receive some of the best of what an MFA program, portfolio program, and apprenticeship offer, as we have worked to shape something fresh and relevant for the times we are living in. We Christians must do more than get a degree; now is the time to do more. We hope you will join us.
In short, the education you receive at the Maker Institute can apply to a broad range of fields where cultural production is an outcome. We aim to see Maker Institute graduates launch galleries, make incredible paintings, produce films, write stories, design and craft objects, build brands, and so much more.

The Maker Institute offers a two-year Fellowship program for artists and designers seeking to deepen their studio practice and relationship with Christ. Through in-depth mentorship and teaching, the Maker Institute focuses on an individual’s heart, head, and hands, realizing that each part contributes to the richness of human flourishing. This holistic approach enables students to use their skills and talents as makers with clarity and excellence to advance Christ’s kingdom in their homes, churches, cities, and beyond.

The program consists of a core of eight academic courses (24 credit hours) and four studio courses (12 credit hours) alongside four elective courses (12 credit hours) that the student chooses. Classes will exist online in tandem with several in-person yearly intensives in Richmond, VA.

Academic courses consist of art and theology, discipleship development, and professional practices, including studio practice. These courses incorporate individual reading and writing, lectures, discussion groups, and student-to-student interaction. The art and theology courses aim to ground students in the literature surrounding theology and the arts while providing a space to explore and discuss its content and application across the field. The purpose of the discipleship development courses is to push deeply into calling and desire-discernment, specifically as these areas relate to the place of Christian artists in a confrontational culture so that students may live freely as Christian makers who are emboldened to the calling of Christ.
Absolutely not! It is quite the opposite; we want thinking and making to walk together and get worked out practically. Studio courses exist in the two broadly defined areas of Art and Design depending on the student’s area of interest. These courses are led by an area expert with the role of coach, mentor, and critic, working alongside their students to enrich makers through consistent intervention into the creative process. These courses require individual studio time as well as in-depth critique and writing. Studio courses allow students not merely to intellectualize the arts; instead, these courses help students understand that words and conversations about the arts are best explored while making.
Elective courses for the program center on independent studies, topics courses, and professional practices. Independent studies are crafted by the student and presented to their faculty mentor. Once approved, these courses act as a space for the student’s individualized application of other courses as they explore their calling and place in the Kingdom of God as makers and cultural stewards. Topics courses will change throughout the year but will be based on topics in professional practice and specific authors (subject to individual availability). These courses allow students to craft a more specific degree based on the context in which they will work. Professional practices courses aim to connect art practice to the business of a responsible life by exploring business practices, career planning, and individualized mentorship.
Each student is approached as an individual, but every student can assume that any given week will contain reading, writing, speaking with classmates, check-ins with faculty and dedicated studio time. In addition, we believe that the holistic integration of the arts into a student’s life is paramount. This means, we do not want you to put your life on hold. We want students to work, have families, and be active in their churches. A normal week would look like a normal week does for you already; we just want to add a layer of deepening through a highly specific community of Christian makers eager to grow in the faith and knowledge of Christ.

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Our full website will be launching soon, and we will be starting classes in the fall of 2024. In the meantime, sign up to receive more information about faculty, courses, and more.