Csodalatos!

Hungary, Summer 2011 By P. Butler

Six Visual artists from three countries joined OM Arts in a multi-disciplinary team effort in the beautiful Hungarian city of Baja, just a few miles from the Serbian border. The team served a local church by reaching out primarily to youth. On the program were an arts camp, a city square concert, nightly worship gatherings, and time to connect with local artists—all great opportunities for God to work. Three highlights:

Arts Camp
Facilitating workshops in photography, drawing skills, mixed media and collage, and sculpture, the team interacted with dozens of students. During the first week, after a full day of drawing, sculpting, dancing, and harmonizing, the Hungarian campers were ambushed by the love of God and a number of them gave their hearts to Christ.

Csodalatos!
At the end of the first week, the art team was asked to create a visual piece to coincide with the music to be played during a public event on the city's main square. While seeking God's message for the city during a prayer walk, the concept of "brokenness is the beauty" was impressed upon the artists. The intersection of brokenness and beauty, exemplified in the Cross, became the theme: a horrific event—crucifixion—was simultaneously a beautiful act of sacrificial love.

Could these artists recreate that moment visually? What was the Hungarian cultural equivalent of this concept? Did they have a word or phrase for it?

The next days were truly a feat of creative collaboration. In spite of temperatures soaring well into the 100's, the team immediately went to work brainstorming, sketching, buying art supplies, and on a linguistic search, speaking with translators and local believers, to find the right word. They quickly had a design sketch for a graffiti wall to be constructed on the main stage.

The word search yielded Csodalotos—signifying both the miraculous and the wonderful. A word one would use to describe birth. How fitting for what the artists wanted to depict.

The following days were a frenzy of stencil cutting, canvas-stretching, teaching classes, and hosing themselves down in the garden to keep cool—to the drumbeat of the music lessons downstairs.

The event night came and the stage in the city center square welcomed hundreds of Hungarians, drawn to the vibrant sound of the bands warming up. While the artists were busily framing the canvas backstage, the crowd built as the dancers danced and personal testimonies were given by some on the team. The graffiti wall was to be the grand finale, painted on a huge canvas during the last song, and used to call people forward to join in the miracle of new birth.

In spite of high winds taking the paint everywhere it seemed but on the canvas, a few miscues and running overtime, the crew finished to the roar of the crowd as the word "Csodalatos" appeared.

Pointing to the graffiti wall, the featured musician asked the audience to indicate a decision to follow after Jesus Christ by coming up on the stage, wetting their hand with paint, and putting their hand-print on the canvas around the word. Many came forward, including two homeless men. The ArtsLink team had the joy of helping all those who were making decisions to come forward and make their mark for Christ.

Meeting Local Artists
During the second week, the teams split up: dancers and musicians for a concert tour of several cities, visual artists staying behind to probe the arts scene in Baja and connect with local artists. Again, God did not disappoint. Working without translators, armed with city maps and determination, the artists were coming up empty handed until the last day—when local artists actually found them! The closing day was spent in the garden of the language school, with about a dozen artists, asking if they could meet and see their work. The art team had a very full afternoon sharing stories and portfolios, and left with an invitation to have a joint exhibition next summer!

Kudos to a team that worked tirelessly through many obstacles to reach the young people and artists of Baja.

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