Inspiring and creative art, music, poetry, performances and more will be featured in Springfield May 6 -15. The biennial Liturgical Arts Festival is back after a hiatus due to COVID-19. This is an interfaith celebration of the liturgical arts, reflecting mutual appreciation of artistic expression.
While the festival is inspired by the diversity of faith traditions in our community, people of all faiths – or no faith or religious affiliation – are invited to enjoy a wide diversity of art exhibits, music, theater and other artistic performances and programs. This is the 13th Liturgical Arts Festival in Springfield, founded as a nonprofit interfaith organization in1995 by local clergy, artists and community volunteers. Springfield is unique in offering this type of festival for its community.
Delinda Chapman, vice president of programming and longtime board member of the Liturgical Arts Festival, says the event is about sharing, getting acquainted with the paths of others and appreciating without judging different faith traditions and the different paths we walk. Chapman is a practicing Buddhist, practicing artist and an active participant in the Springfield arts community.
Music, dance, drama, poetry and the visual arts are a window to cultural expressions of creativity, beauty and community life. The first program on Friday, May 6, at 7 p.m. is part of an existing series of First Friday concerts at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception (524 E. Lawrence). "Priestly Praise" will feature Mark Gifford and the Priests of the Springfield Catholic Diocese playing the organ. The final program at 6 p.m. on Sunday, May 15, will be a New Orleans-style jazz funeral parade in the streets surrounding First Christian Church, followed by a jazz concert, inside the church, by the Frank Parker band and Mark McKnight.
See and learn about the spectacular stained-glass windows at the Sacred Heart Convent and Chapel (1237 W. Monroe St.) during a tour on Monday, May 9, at 6 p.m. This will be followed at 7 p.m. by an informative lecture about the art and architecture of the magnificent chapel, presented by renowned local historian Anthony Rubano. The American Guild of Organists and Temple Israel Choir will present a concert of wedding music at the Cathedral Church of St. Paul (815 S. Second St.) on Tuesday, May 10, at 7 p.m., preceded by a display of wedding arts and apparel at 6 p.m.
A new type of presentation at this year's festival is the program on Friday, May 13, at 6 p.m., In the Blink of an Eye: Celebrating Life's Journey. This theatrical presentation of spoken word and music will be presented by Leigh Steiner and Phil Funkenbusch at the First Presbyterian Church, 321 S. Seventh St. Staab Funeral Home will showcase the Lincoln Hearse and feature the Timothy Krause collection of funerary objects on Saturday, May 14, 7-9 p.m., along with music and poetry.
In addition to these live performances and programs, the Sacred and Liturgical Art Exhibit is an integral part of the festival. The exhibition is a joint effort of the Liturgical Arts Festival and the Springfield Art Association (SAA). This juried exhibition reflects the talent and diversity of distinguished artists from all over the country, who represent many faiths, cultures and traditions. Submissions are expected to express a commitment to interfaith understanding, coexistence, peace and cultural exchange. A curatorial panel consisting of individual artists and community members reviewed the call for submissions; a second set of jurors selected the winners to receive prizes. The art will be exhibited at the SAA April 20-May 28, with a reception on Saturday, May 7, 4:30-6:30 p.m. Selected artists from Springfield and surrounding communities include Colleen Ferratier, George King, Zille Huma, Sheri Ramsey, Bri Skeels and Meda Rives Smith. Their work is on display along with creative expressions by artists from other Illinois communities and 15 other states. The exhibition also offers an opportunity to purchase original liturgical art.
For more information about the Liturgical Arts Festival, go to http://www.lafspringfield.org/.
The Liturgical Arts Festival of Springfield logo was designed by Dale Rogers for the 1998 festival. It is a tribute to the brilliant paper cuttings of Henri Matisse and attempts to illustrate the artistic quest of the human spirit towards the Divine. The hand reaches upwards towards ancient symbols for God and the places that reflect the handiwork of God. Nature is represented by a single leaf. The wonders of creation are represented by the spiral or coil of life. A starburst represents light and the cosmos. Dale Rogers is a founding member of the Liturgical Arts Festival of Springfield. Rogers has served as the director of Music and the Arts at Westminster Presbyterian Church since 1986. –from the Liturgical Arts Festival website
Karen Ackerman Witter is a frequent contributor to Illinois Times. She enjoys reporting on arts and culture and believes that natural and cultural resources and the arts enrich people's lives and build strong communities. She looks forward to attending the upcoming Liturgical Arts Festival.