Client: Carmel Lutheran Church, Carmel, IN
Location: Carmel, IN, United States
Completion date: 2012
Artwork budget: $10,000
Students and Staff
Linda Witte Henke
Linda Witte Henke, LLC
Titled “Holy, Wholly, Whole” and measuring 19 feet wide by 19 feet high by 1 foot deep, this project was conceived and designed by artist Linda Witte Henke and created in collaboration with more than 150 students and staff of the 2012 Fine Arts Academy for permanent installation at Carmel Lutheran Church in Carmel, IN. Enthusiastically received by both the academy participants and the congregation, the finished artwork makes a dynamic statement in the congregation's contemporary worship space.
The goals of the project were  to commission an aesthetically pleasing work of art suited to the particularity of the space and in a design that was both simple enough to reflect the youthful perspective of the co-creators and sophisticated enough to speak with relevance to viewers of all ages;  to afford students the opportunity to collaborate with the artist in creation of the work.
The collaboration resulted in the creation of a stunningly beautiful work that exceeded all expectations. The compelling design and the vibrant palette combined with the rich textures created by the contributions of many hands to create a work that transformed an unremarkable space into a space that emanates energy and life.
The artist worked with the congregation's Project Team to develop a vision that would ensure coherence with both the worship space and the theme of the 2012 Fine Arts Academy program. The artist then translated that vision into a design that  referenced the six days of God's creative activity (as described in Genesis) and invited reflection on God's ongoing creativity;  referenced the Holy Trinity;  employed imagery that would inspire awe for God's creative power and commitment to humankind's calling to serve as partners in that creativity;  incorporate all colors associated with the Christian liturgical seasons; and  include a background of student-generated "doodles" that would give youthful expression to God's ongoing creative activity.
Throughout the Fine Arts Academy session, students of all age levels met daily with the artist to create doodles and apply paint to the project's surface, activities that provided opportunities for relationship building and age-appropriate conversation about how art and faith intersect in interesting and powerful ways. Inspired by what they observed happening, faculty and teenagers also soon sought out opportunities to participate. The sense of shared accomplishment forged an enduring bond among the students, staff, youth, and artist.
As an artist and designer, one of the challenges that I experience in facilitating collaborative projects is the need to surrender a measure of control over outcomes. My participation in this collaborative process affirmed the amazing capacity of collaborative processes to generate outcomes that far surpass conventional perceptions of beauty. Through participation in the creation of "Holy, Wholly, Whole," both people and materials underwent significant transformation.