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Art Installation to Debut on Palm Sunday

“Along the Path”

Installation: Palm Sunday, April 9
Reception: Sunday, April 23
3:00 pm in the Sanctuary


On Friday, November 30, 2015, members and friends of the Pinnacle Presbyterian Spiritual Art Committee gathered to brainstorm ideas for their next large scale art project.  Each project that the committee undertakes always begins with a scripture passage.  In this case, the group was guided by Matthew 21:8 (NIV) “A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road.”

Inspiration: The committee was inspired by the intriguing work of Katharina Krenkel, an Argentine born fiber artist who lives and works in Germany.  Her large scale, soft sculpture, fiber installations include an enthralling freeform crocheted one that was installed in a beautiful German cathedral.  The idea of “freeform” fiber art incorporating crochet and knitting appealed to the group, because individuals could each stitch individual yarn pieces without patterns that are known as “scrumbles”.  These could be combined to make larger fiber units, which in turn would be joined to form an extended paramount or artistic altar cloth. The goal was to bring together many hands working individually at home and then come together each week to work in fellowship at the church.

Preparation: Tyvek, a type of sheeting used in home construction, was used to create the template of the overall shape, with dimensions of approximately eight feet in width, undulating to a length of some twenty-two feet, the size allowed the art piece to drape over the front of the communion table and flow across the floor and down the steps to the sanctuary floor. Individual pieces cut from plastic tablecloths were used to map out particular colors, shapes and placement.

Lessons:  Several skilled crocheters and knitters from the congregation helped guide and inspire women from the congregation who wanted to participate, but were new to the crafts.  All skill levels were welcomed and some twenty-five needle workers ultimately participated in the undertaking.  Among them were women of various age groups and walks of life, including recent widows and women undergoing chemotherapy treatments, all of whom formed amazing bonds.  They reflected the core philosophy of the Spiritual Art Committee, that is: to bring people together for fellowship, congeniality and spiritual inspiration.  Who knew that just sitting together and turning balls of yarns into bits of crochet and knit would be so much fun!

Work began:  The overall design was defined by color and size, and each worker took a particular yarn color to work with each week in the privacy of her own home. Then, all would gather together weekly to share their creations. Each woman was inspired by the creativity of her co-workers.  Some scrumbles were purely abstract and freeform, while others were adorned with buttons, charms, beads, trinkets or crosses.  Some scrumbles were formed into leaves, flowers, hearts, even doughnuts and bunnies!  The project grew little by little every week as the scrumbles were gathered, organized by color and sewn together.

Time involved:  Initially the committee was overly optimistic in estimating the length of time it would take to finish a project of this size.  Starting in December of 2015, the goal was completion for Palm Sunday, April, 2016.  Fifteen months later the art piece was completed for Palm Sunday, April 9, 2017.  The children processed down the center sanctuary aisle, waving palm fronds and singing “Hosannas”, they then surrounded the resplendent communion table where the cloaks had been laid before Him!

About the Spiritual Art Committee:  In late April of 2013, four members of the Pinnacle Presbyterian Church of Scottsdale, Arizona traveled to Mendocino, California to attend
a three day workshop with Nancy Chinn.  Chinn is an internationally known liturgical artist, who uses humble, inexpensive materials in her art projects.  She has produced commissioned, large scale installations in The National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., and Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, among many others.  She is a published author. Chinn has taught many congregations throughout the United States about her techniques, use of materials and philosophy of how to include the congregation in production of large scale, scripture based and life enhancing works of art.  The mission of the Spiritual Art Committee is to enhance Pinnacle Presbyterian Church’s
beautiful sanctuary with its organic architecture, interior color palette and breathtaking native setting, by the use of large scale art to bring color and spiritual inspiration into the worship space. This project is the third of three installations created by the committee.  

Previous Projects: The first project was a 2015,Lenten, large scale installation of numerous, colorfully painted net streamers that flew above the pews, from the back of the sanctuary, one- hundred-twenty feet to the front, where the steamers finally culminated above the large boulders at the right of the church’s forty foot tall carved ironwood cross, in a sparkling column of white netting.

The second installation was installed for the Advent season of 2016.  The artwork featured over eight hundred balsa and white tissue paper, hand- made stars. The stars, which, again, were flying above the pews, featured prayers, from individual members of the congregation, written on their backs. Along the lower side walls of the churches’ two upper seating terraces, gilded panels of cut- paper were hung--a new one each week of the Advent season. The panels depicted the path of the wise men to Bethlehem at Jesus’ birth.  At the back of the chancel, on Christmas Eve, two huge, gilt painted panels of cut- paper depicting cherubs and hundreds of stars, were hung side by side.  A six foot, lighted, Star of Bethlehem floated in front of the panels.