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2014 Speakers

ColinCrop14Colin Harbinson  (Ontario, Canada)

Dr. Colin Harbinson was born in London, England, and has been involved in many varied aspects of the arts, missions and education for 40 years. Colin created the internationally acclaimed production Toymaker & Son that has been performed in over 70 countries. Colin received his education at Sussex University, Brighton, England, and later joined Youth With a Mission and directed the Academy of Performing Arts in Ontario, Canada. He subsequently served as the International Dean of The College of the Arts at the University of the Nations. Colin is the Founder and President of the International Festival of the Arts that pioneered Sacred Fire, the first East-West arts festival in St. Petersburg, Russia, and the Love Without Borders festival in Sofia, Bulgaria. The Ode to Joy festival in Kunming China involved over 700 artists from 21 countries and was the largest international arts festival of its kind in the history of that nation. Until recently, he was the Dean of the School of the Arts at Belhaven University in Jackson, MS. Colin is currently the International Director of StoneWorks, a global arts partnership for cultural reformation and the recovery of the imagination in the life and mission of the Church.

SkidRow_JasonLeith-2Jason Leith (Saddleback Church, CA)

 Jason is the director of arts at  Saddleback Church’s arts initiative, Saddleback Visual Arts, and a accomplished artist. His Sacred Streets project gained international acclaim. Sacred Streets features twelve portraits of homeless people whom he met and drew right on Los Angeles’ “skid row”. The portraits were exhibited in temporary gallery made of found materials that was erected on a vacant lot on “skid row”.

His desire was to  render beauty in ways that marry artistic excellence with social responsibility. “I had a relevation that . . . I did not have to choose between the two or practice them separately.”  Jason is a graduate of Biola University’s fine arts program.

 

Bryn-GilletteBryn Gillette (New Milford, CT)

Bryn Gillette is a painter and art teacher defined by his identity as “husband, father, and passionate follower of Jesus Christ.”  He earned his B.A. in Visual Art from Gordon College in 2001 and his M.F.A. in Painting from Western Connecticut State University in 2009.  Bryn is currently a full time art, photography, and Bible teacher at Trinity-Pawling School in NY.  He is the co-founder of TeamOne:27, a non-profit dedicated to serving the needs of Haitian orphans, and spends the majority of his artistic time as an advocate and champion of the needs of his Haitian “family.” Bryn says of his oil paintings, “There is little distinction for me between my artistic process and the act of prayer.  Painting is where my eye, my hand, and my heart all intersect.”

J. Scott McElroy (Indianapolis, IN)

J. Scott McElroy is the author of Finding Divine Inspiration: Working with the Holy Spirit in Your CreativityCreative Church Handbook: Releasing the Power of the Arts in Your Congregation,  and founder of The New Renaissance Arts Movement, dedicated to connecting, equipping and inspiring churches and artists for the New Renaissance. Scott is also the Director of Arts at the Indianapolis Vineyard Church. He speaks nationally about spiritual formation for artists, the arts in the local church, and more. Scott is an award winning audio producer, a voiceover artist,  and visual artist. He served as Emmis Communications Indianapolis Production Director for 20 years, and hosted the Animal Planet  TV series, “Wildlife Journal” from 2004-2007.

 

Jessie Nilo (Boise, ID)

Jessie Nilo is an artist in love with the local church. In 2004 she had a clear revelation of starting an arts ministry called VineArts at Vineyard Boise Church, and she helps others begin their own art ministries at artfruition.com. She loves artists, and she says you can boil down arts ministry to “2 or 3 creatives sitting at a fireplace, talking about art, life, and Jesus.” She collaborates with her own church’s artists in prayer, mutual support, and a stunning variety of creative endeavors to bless their church and city. Jessie is an accomplished visual artist and teaches drawing, painting, photography, and graphic design at Hall International Academy in Eagle, Idaho. She contributed to The Creative Church Handbook by J. Scott McElroy.

 

Dave Blakeslee (Salida, CO)

Dave Blakeslee has been an accomplished studio potter in Colorado since 1975. His art is influenced by a variety of cultures, and he creates pots not as an end in itself, but to be used and enjoyed, which influences the shape, glaze choices, size of his high-fire clays to endure regular use. Dave served as senior pastor of the Salida Vineyard Church, for over 20 years. Having stepped down from full-time ministry, he has re-entered full-time studio work. He loves traveling to different churches, encouraging people through his artwork and being an agent of reconciliation between pastors and artists, as Dave understands both walks of life.

Cecilia Brie Tschoepe (Austin, TX)

Cecilia Brie Tschoepe is an actor, writer, and director whose work focuses on the development of new plays and “community-engaged” theatre. Brie’s work has been produced in Austin’s FronteraFest fringe theatre festival and HopeArts festival, and in New York by Threads Theater Company, NYU’s Theatrix Festival of New Work, and The Village Church. She holds an MA in Educational Theatre from NYU where she co-founded a laboratory workshop for students exploring “devising” techniques, and performed in two seasons of New Plays for Young Audiences, workshopping with playwrights including Byrony Lavery, Y.York, Susan Zeder, and Laurie Brooks.

Manuel Luz (Folsom, CA)

Manuel Luz is passionate about worship, coffee, the Oakland Raiders, and the intersections of faith and the arts.  A songwriter, author, speaker, and creative arts pastor, Manuel’s book, Imagine That: Discovering Your Unique Role as a Christian Artist (Moody Publishers) is a practical and personal theology of the arts. Check out his thought-provoking blog, “Adventures in Faith and Art” (manuelluz.com), or his four solo albums (iTunes orCDBaby). Manuel’s stunning essays on intrinsic beauty are a must-read for any artist of faith.

 

NEMR-HS5Andrew Nemr (NYC, NY)

Mentored by Gregory Hines, Andrew  Nemr is considered one of the most hardworking and diverse tap dance artists today. Co-founder of the Tap Legacy™ Foundation, Inc., Andrew has garnered a reputation for impeccable musicianship and sensitivity, and respect for the craft that he loves. A TED Fellow and the artist in residence for the Quarterly Arts Soiree (QAS) at Webster Hall, Andrew received an NEA Masterpieces: Dance Initiative Grant to reconstruct the works of classic tap dance soloists, garnering critical and popular acclaim upon their presentation in Echoes In Time.  Collectively, Andrew’s choreography and solo work has been described as “a welcome return to the elegance of simplicity and the tap dancer as maker of aural magic” (exploredance.com) and “deeply touching” (Daily Gazette).

 

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