College of Bible & Ministry announces winner of student art competition, winner’s entry to hang in McInteer Bible and World Religions Building

June 26, 2020 | College of Bible & Ministry |

College of Bible and Ministry announces winner of student art competition, winner’s entry to be displayed in McInteer Bible and World Missions Center

In late February, the Harding University College of Bible and Ministry aesthetics committee announced they would be hosting an Art Competition. The purpose of the competition was to promote the integration of beauty and the appreciation of beauty into the study of scripture and theology.

“Our goal is to help students know and love God,” Mac Sandlin, assistant professor of Bible and religion and member of the aesthetics committee, said. “Not just with a part of themselves but with their whole selves. Their ears, their eyes, their hands, their heart.”

Students were encouraged to submit original designs inspired by the Christian tradition connecting the four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John), and the four living creatures that surround the throne of God in the books of Ezekiel and Revelation. Following the competition, the winner’s artwork would be hung in the McInteer, enhancing the space for years to come.

“Unless you can take a truth and imagine it you really don’t know what it means. Through all the Bible you see truths revealed through sensory engagement and literary devices, songs, symbols, poetry parables,” Tessa Davidson, assistant art professor, said. “[God’s] revelations are constantly quoted in artistic form and that’s why I think the more we explore and describe truth through different forms and media the stronger of a grasp we will have of it.”

The committee faced a number of challenges due to the pandemic and partial closure of campus during the spring semester. However, generous donations from the McClelland Law Firm, Mark Lanier, founder of the Lanier Theological Library, and other individual donors, they were able to move forward with the competition.

After securing the needed funding and receiving numerous entries, the committee judged the proposals based on the following criteria:

  • Would the designs harmonize and relate to the space in the McInteer building?
  • Do the designs reflect the historical symbolism and artistic tradition of the living creatures?
  • Do the designs reflect the themes and theological emphases of the four Gospels?
  • Do the designs utilize effective design principles and demonstrate strong craftsmanship?
  • Are the designs elegant, balanced and harmonious?
  • Do the designs demonstrate creativity and originality?
  • Are the designs interesting and engaging?

After reviewing all of the student entries the committee announced Braydon Letsinger, sophomore criminal justice and Spanish major from Rockford, Illinois, the inaugural winner of the 2020 McInteer Art Competition. The committee found Letsinger’s designs creative and engaging and believe they bring fresh insight and unique voice to a longstanding artistic and theological tradition.

“What stood out immediately about Braydon’s work is how vivid his images are,” Jim Bury, Professor of New Testament, said. “There is a place for the subtle use of symbolism but I like Braydon’s bold use of the traditional symbols for the four Gospels. It’s a great combination of a sort of classical style with really strong colors. I think students are going to really enjoy seeing these paintings in the classroom.”

Letsinger will now focus on making larger versions of his images to be added to the collection in the McInteer Bible and World Missions Center in the fall. He said when he created the pieces he wanted to do so in such a way that it gave the room a little bit of extra energy and individuality.

“This competition was a really great opportunity for me, especially not having majored in art,” Letsinger said. “It gave me the opportunity to work on my art in a way that can help the college and help me grow in my faith.”

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