Articles

Learner Inspires Others with Art Inspired by Bahá’í Writings

Mar 30, 2022

Image: Cindy Van Kley’s #Fast19Painting from Day 17–“Worlds, holy and spiritually glorious will be unveiled to your eyes”

Course: The Four Valleys and the Hidden Words: An Arts Perspective (2021)
Faculty Mentor: Peggy Caton
Student: Cindy Van Kley

Editor’s Note: Wilmette Institute courses emphasize the importance of putting new knowledge into action. Following completion of the course The Four Valleys and the Hidden Words: an Arts Perspective, Cindy Van Kley provided this glimpse into her chosen activity, an artist demonstration with the Mid-Del Art Guild in Midwest City, Oklahoma. 


“I selected some compelling quotations, including quite a few from the Bahá’í Writings, and asked the participants to choose one and create a drawing or painting in response to it. I set a timer for five minutes and, after we did our work, we shared and discussed how each participant’s art piece corresponded to the quotation. We did this five times during the program, and two of the five quotations the group chose (from about 20 possibilities) happened to be Bahá’í quotes. I got many positive comments, especially remarking that it was unexpectedly inspiring to do Art as a response to such deeply spiritual quotations.”

“Also, during the 19-day Fast this year, I challenged myself to an activity I called #Fast19Paintings, using something from my dawn devotions each day and doing a 19-minute acrylic painting in response. I posted each painting on Facebook, along with the corresponding quotation from the Writings and a brief explanation of my thought process. I’ve received some positive comments on Facebook, but the best feedback was from people I saw in person around town, who told me how thought provoking they found the art and the quotations and said that they really enjoyed following the series every day. I’ve even received questions about the Faith because of the quotations!  I felt like it was a successful project!”


Quotations used in painting captions above

“O My servants! Sorrow not if, in these days and on this earthly plane, things contrary to your wishes have been ordained and manifested by God, for days of blissful joy, of heavenly delight, are assuredly in store for you. Worlds, holy and spiritually glorious, will be unveiled to your eyes.” 

Gleanings From the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, CLIII

“Thou canst take unto thyself a husband and at the same time serve the Cause of God; the one doth not preclude the other. Know thou the value of these days; let not this chance escape thee. Beg thou God to make thee a lighted candle, so that thou mayest guide a great multitude through this darksome world.”

Selections From the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, #64

“I implore Thee with a throbbing heart, with streaming tears and a yearning soul, and in complete detachment from all things, to make Thy lovers as rays of light across Thy realms, and to aid Thy chosen servants to exalt Thy Word, that their faces may turn beauteous and bright with splendour, that their hearts may be filled with mysteries, and that every soul may lay down its burden of sin.”

Selections From the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, #190

“O Lord! Draw up the people from the abyss of the ocean of hatred and enmity, and deliver them 182 from this impenetrable darkness. Unite their hearts, and brighten their eyes with the light of peace and reconciliation. Deliver them from the depths of war and bloodshed, and free them from the darkness of error. Remove the veil from their eyes, and enlighten their hearts with the light of guidance.”

—‘Abdu’l-Bahá, A Prayer Revealed to the Bahá’ís of the United States and Canada

Contributors

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Cindy Van Kley (Spencer, Oklahoma)

Lifelong artist and graphic designer Cindy Van Kley likes to experiment in many styles and subject matter, and never met an art medium she didn't love. She recently retired from doing marketing, graphic design, and public relations and spends her time teaching Bahá'í Children's Classes, painting, gardening, and serving on several local civic boards while volunteering in her community.

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