a group of people talking outside near trees

For a few days in June, 275 artists from around the world convened on Biola’s campus for the 2011 Christians in the Visual Arts (CIVA) conference. CIVA, an organization founded in 1979 to help artists, arts pastors, collectors, critics, designers, historians and videographers explore the profound relationship between art and faith, partnered with Biola’s art department to bring the biennial conference to La Mirada.

The theme of this year’s conference, “Matter and Spirit: Art and Belief in a Digital Age,” focused on the role of physical matter in art, and included plenary addresses from speakers such as iconographer Father Patrick Doolan, poet Malcolm Guite and contemporary sculpture artist Lynn Aldrich.

“The Judeo-Christian worldview enjoins us to believe in matter,” said Aldrich in her talk on the role of matter in contemporary art. “It is the stuff of creation, of which we ourselves are constituted. ... Matter is declared good by the living God.”

an audience watching a performer in a music hall

Presentations during the June 15–19 conference included both academic lectures and artistspresenting their current work. Cal State Long Beach art history professor Karen Kleinfelder gave an impressive presentation on the role of spirit, matter and technology in early 20th century modernist art, for example, while contemporary artists such as painter Bruce Herman and environmental designer John Chan showed videos and images of their recent work.

The conference also featured numerous breakout session workshops and seminars, including tracks on film, spiritual formation, arts education and arts in the church. Conference attendees could also participate in figure drawing workshops, photo critiques and a mural painting workshop led by Kent Twitchell.

The weekend conference also included late night performances, curated exhibitions, art excursions to local museums and galleries, a silent auction for CIVA member art works, a Saturday night “arts festival,” worship and prayer, and a “Soul Space” in Giamurra Courtyard for coffee, conversation and creativity.