Art and Faith Formation Fuse in the Classroom

Art and Faith Formation Fuse in the Classroom

Arts & Faith

The Finding God program has long been a trusted and valuable resource for teachers and catechists to share our rich and rewarding faith with children and young people. For the 2013 revision of the award-winning program, Loyola Press looked for ways to help make the faith connection stronger and more relatable. After years of research and careful selection, Loyola Press unveiled a new way to learn and explore concepts of faith formation: the Exploring Faith Through Art fine art prints.

In this brief Q&A, Joellyn Cicciarelli, director of curricula development, explained how the combination of art and faith helps build a strong foundation of faith and stir the soul in unexpected ways.

Loyola Press: How did the idea for the Exploring Faith Through Art fine art prints come about?

Joellyn: Loyola Press conducted customer surveys about Finding God before we entered into the revision. One thing that customers remarked on was how much they liked the art in the program. This gave me an idea—if they like the art in the book, why not continue the beautiful sacred art out of the books and showcase it!

Loyola Press: What were some of the logistical hurdles in developing the fine art prints?

Joellyn: For me, the biggest hurdle was finding writers who truly understood art interpretation and art history. We were lucky enough to find writers such as current Catholic school art teachers to help us find ways to bring the prints alive through fruitful discussion.

Loyola Press: Why do you think faith formation and art are a natural combination in the catechist’s classroom?

Joellyn:  Since early times in the Church, sacred art has been used to help people make a connection with God and better understand Scripture and our Catholic faith. It only made sense to me to offer catechists and children their own version of a “sacred space” by allowing them to display and use the art easels during the Finding God lessons.

Loyola Press: What did you do to create this “sacred space” when each catechist classroom might differ from the next?

Joellyn: We integrated the use of the art prints into every lesson. In fact, there is a student book page to coincide with each print. The rich biographical information in About the Artist, the informative art background in Art-i-facts, the simple-to-follow catechist instructions with scripting, and the inspirational, reflective activities (Music or Movement, Art Studio, and Using Imagination in Prayer) all make this an extraordinary experience for catechists and children alike. 

One thing I’d like to point out is that many religious education programs either “borrow rooms” from the Catholic school or have to share space with other classes in large multipurpose areas. The art prints offer catechists something of their own to instantly display and create a sense of the sacred just for their groups—something special.

Loyola Press: How were the art pieces chosen?

Joellyn: Each piece reflects one of the main ideas in each Finding God session—the prints are directly linked to each chapter. In addition, we set the following criteria for each easel: the prints must show a variety of media (sculpture, paintings, stained glass, etc.); the prints must be from a variety of times in history; the prints must feature artists of a variety of cultures and include a balance of both men and women artists; the prints must be thought-provoking and grade-level appropriate.

Loyola Press: So the art prints continue to build on the faith formation lesson and provide new ways to look at and explore how we express our faith.

Joellyn: Exactly!

Exploring Faith Through Art easels are available for the entire Finding God program Grades 1–8 in English and Spanish. Loyola Press is also developing Exploring Faith Through Art easels for Kindergarten to help young learners further explore faith concepts in an age-appropriate manner with hands-on activities. The Kindergarten art prints will be available later in 2014.

With creativity, innovation, and discovery, the combination of art and faith in the classroom helps build a stronger foundation for tomorrow’s Church. Learn more about the program here.