Today I'm continuing my interview with artist Yvonne Boudreaux, who works with the Coalition for Christian Outreach (www.ccojubilee.org) ministering to art students at the University of the Arts and Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. Yvonne recently graduated with a BFA in Printmaking from Kutztown University.
LeAnne: Do you see the students you know grappling with integrating their faith and their art? Do they face unique challenges as art students who are Christians?
Yvonne: The students I interact with now are grappling with integrating their faith and their art--otherwise I might feel like I'm failing. Seriously, though, I know that the students I've been blessed to talk with have thought more critically about the relationship of their art and their faith. They're seeing how "Christian art" does not necessarily have to be art including an overt Christian message (or symbols for that matter), and how God can use even "secular" art to speak of Gospel truths.
As Christians in the arts, they face the obstacle of being taken seriously if they do choose to integrate their faith and their art. While many encounters the students have had aren't as extreme, there are some cases where they've seen that the idea of Christians making art is taken as a joke.
LM: How do you encourage them in their walk and in their art?
YB: I encourage them to strive to their best potential in art making, and that all the "pointless practices" like color wheels are not pointless. Cultivating the gift of art is glorifying to God, because it discovers more about His creation. I also encourage them to hold onto integrity as they make art and venture through the art field, which can have so many pitfalls of dishonesty and the compromise of morals. In my talks with them, I try to drive home that all things matter and belong to God and so we ought to live/be stewards accordingly.
LM: Tell me about your own art.
YB: My work is an outpouring of my faith and will commonly have themes surrounding relationships: relationship to and with God, relationship with others, and relationship to self. The most prominent way that this is expressed is through imagery of Freedom vs. Bondage--psychological or spiritual. My work is a heavy (perhaps cryptic) mix of traditional symbols and my own symbolic language, and will often take inspiration from the Bible, Christian literature, theology, and humanity's response to these things. I do not, however, focus primarily on the Biblical narratives themselves but rather on principles behind them and Christian ideas.
Although printmaking is my first love, I lack direct or immediate access to a printmaking facility. This has caused me to experiment with painting/mixed media painting, as well as pen drawings on paper. A body of work I'm still attempting to develop involves collagraph printmaking on Plexiglass, pencil drawings, and light boxes.
I focus on human and animal figures and visually I would say my work is very illustrative in nature and can even take on an iconographic feel. An example would be of a solitary bird weighed down by stones with a black background.