About six months ago, art professor Barry Krammes popped into my office unannounced, looking eager to tell me about something (and ready to ask for some serious real estate in an upcoming issue of the magazine).

The something turned out to be the rough plans for Biola’s “Year of the Arts,” an ambitious university-wide celebration of art and its place in the Christian life. Led by influential art patron and longtime Biola supporter Roberta Green Ahmanson — who agreed to serve as Biola’s “visionary in residence” for 2011–12 — the festival of events would work to instill appreciation of the arts into students of all backgrounds and bring some truly exciting artists to campus during the coming year.

After months of planning, the yearlong celebration kicked off this fall, and in its honor, we’ve decided to devote much of this issue of Biola Magazine to highlighting art, artists and the idea of “Sacred Space,” which Ahmanson has selected as the year’s theme.

In the pages that follow, you’ll find reflections from President Corey and Biola professors about the importance of art and the role that it plays in helping us to slow down and recognize the sacredness of our time and surroundings. In our “Ask an Expert,” Ahmanson — who has appeared on Time magazine’s list of the 25 most influential U.S. evangelicals and was recently profiled in a lengthy Christianity Today article under the headline “Connoisseur for Christ” — explains the year’s theme and makes her case for why evangelicals should care more about the arts.

We’ve also profiled several Biola artists, including music professor Li-shan Hung, filmmaker Zach King and visual artists Ryan Callis and Gregory Michael Hernandez. Hernandez has created what I believe to be a first for Biola Magazine: an interactive piece of art that you can cut out, fold up and display. (A great project for any little future Biolans you may have at home.) Lastly, we’ve included an overview of some of the most noteworthy Year of the Arts events — just a fraction of what’s planned — in case you want to make plans to attend.

My special thanks goes out to Krammes, who has orchestrated much of the Year of the Arts planning, contributed the essay on page 17 and offered great support and brainstorming for this issue. Be sure to watch for more coverage of this year’s events in the months to come.