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Stories

The City Beautiful The Church Beautiful

Gina Hurry

Two InSpero events last month show the power of creative collaboration to bring hope and beauty to our city and churches.

Our first Magic City Storyteller event at the beautiful Clubhouse on Highland

Our first Magic City Storyteller event at the beautiful Clubhouse on Highland

Magic City Storytellers: A Night of Story and Song

More than 130 people packed the Clubhouse on Highland on May 14 to enjoy wine, cheese and Milk-and-Cookie Happy Hour and hear from Birmingham-area artists, including short stories (Nancy Carroll and Riley Kross), poems (Charlie Ritch, Nathan Klose and Irene Latham), and songs (Bradley Harris, Allison Ritch, Joel Madison Blount). Many thanks to Bob McKenna for opening up his beautiful home which is one of Birmingham’s favorite venues.  

Joel Madison Blount (with Josh Vignuelle) sharing his original music

Joel Madison Blount (with Josh Vignuelle) sharing his original music

Baking Bandits provided Milk and Cookie Happy Hour after the readings and songs. 

Baking Bandits provided Milk and Cookie Happy Hour after the readings and songs. 

Nathan Klose, poet and emcee (and semi-wild man), for the evening.

Nathan Klose, poet and emcee (and semi-wild man), for the evening.

Pentecost, the Holy Spirit and the Mystery of the Creative Process

InSpero partnered with Independent Presbyterian Church on May 17 for “Waiting for the Muse: Pentecost, the Holy Spirit and the Mystery of the Creative Process.” IPC Pastor David Seamon engaged singer/songwriter Joel Madison Blount and potters Susan Gordon and Lana Hobbs in a conversation about the creative process and invited the audience of 150 to participate. This was concluded by a concert by Joel, and band members Josh Vignuelle and Will Weer, and Susan and Lana creating on pottery wheels and audience members contributing their own clay handiwork.

Some of the audience's clay contributions 

Some of the audience's clay contributions 

For those who weren’t able to come, read as these artists muse about the creative process, the purpose in failure, and work as worship.

Joel playing and talking about his songwriting process at Waiting for the Muse

Joel playing and talking about his songwriting process at Waiting for the Muse

Describe your creative process:

Joel: Dedicating time to write music everyday is the only way I'm going to actually write new songs and continue to refine my skills as a songwriter.  All that to say, I can’t always write every day. Some weeks the responsibilities of life consume me and I'll be a nervous wreck because I haven't had time to write. However, if I carve out a few hours to develop an idea, I feel much more at ease at the end of the week. 

Each day, productive or not, that I invest in becoming a better singer, songwriter and guitar player builds upon itself like compounding interest. Waiting for the perfect time, situation, equipment, people or idea is procrastination. My best songs are usually written during the most hectic and tumultuous times of my life.  

When I write, I sit in a hard chair, alone in a room with as few distractions as possible to give my mind room to wander uninhibited. When I feel stuck, it's time to get up and invest in relationships. I'm inspired to write most often through shared experiences with my friends and family and witnessing how God is working in our lives and in our communities. 

What blocks your creativity? 

There will always be work by others that is better, more interesting or more intriguing than anything I‘ll ever do. That's hard to accept. But, when I focus on doing the best work I can with the tools I have now, I end up happier and more productive than when I allow myself to wallow in self-pity or fall into a death spiral of comparing myself to others.

Lana Hobbs on wheel

Lana Hobbs on wheel

What do you do when nothing seems to work?

Lana: There are days, weeks and months where nothing goes as planned and nothing comes out as envisioned. When I lose a piece or open the kiln to find something ‘hideous,’ it feels wasted and I’m disappointed. But upon reflection, I go back to the value of the process and everything I learned along the way. There is always a take-away from the process, a nugget of goodness in the failure.

Susan Gordon finishing pitcher

Susan Gordon finishing pitcher

Do you see your creative work as a way to worship?

Susan: When I throw on the wheel, making humble mounds of clay into beautiful and useful vessels, it reminds me of how the Holy Spirit transforms and makes us into vessels for his glory. The clay is, in some ways, a child to me. My hands shape and tell it to bend this way or be straight that way. I worship Him through my dependence on Him and delight in the often-surprising result of the work of my hands.

Upcoming InSpero Events

The Spirituality of Wine: Wine Tasting Event with Dr. Gisela Kreglinger  Friday, June 26 

Gisela grew up on her family winery in Germany and has a doctorate in the theology of the imagination and has spoken extensively in Europe and North America. She will talk about the spirituality of wine in the Bible (based on her upcoming book) and will show us how to befriend our senses more fully as we come to the wine tasting. Limited to 30 people. $25 to cover cost of wine, material and instruction. To register, go to our website.

The Five-Man Gallery Show: Steel City Makers

Friday, October 23, The Nest, Avondale, 6-9 pm

Photo by Alan Matthews

Photo by Alan Matthews

Five up-and-coming Birmingham artists (Marty Balencie, Bruce Phillips, Ty Smith, Matt Underwood and Michael Whitten) are collaborating to show their paintings, sculpture and mixed media art. Suggested donation of $25 covers the show and wine, beer, appetizers and live music from Gabriel Tajeu.

We're finalizing our 2015-2016 calendar of beautiful events.  To subscribe to our mailings, fill out the form on our contact page. You can also keep posted by liking and following InSpero on FacebookInstagram and Twitter

To make a tax-deductible donation to InSpero, please click on the donation link on our website or make checks to Clerestory, Inc. and designate in a separate note that it is for InSpero and mail to Clerestory, Inc. at Two Perimeter Park South, Suite 550 East, Birmingham, AL 35243.