“Hope” blossoms at Doxa Deo Midstream’s impactful, first art exhibition

A column in which Marzanne Slabbert explores the enigmatic fusion of faith and art in South Africa. Join her on an artistic journey and explore the many ways in which God is using the visual arts!

With Doxa Deo International’s annual theme centering on hope and the Easter production titled Hope the Production, Chanéll Naudé, Head of Graphic Design and Communication at Doxa Deo Midstream, in Pretoria, felt that the long-awaited moment had finally arrived. After several years of nurturing the dream, they were ready to host their inaugural art exhibition. Marzanne Slabbert had the privilege of speaking with this dynamic young creative about the Hope Art Exhibition, held from March 25 to 29 at their campus.

Before we focus on the exhibition, for interest’s sake and background for our readers, what does Doxa Deo mean?

“Our name, Doxa Deo, means the Glory of God. At the heart of this ministry is the desire to see God’s transforming presence in every city where we have influence. We believe that every believer in Jesus is an ambassador for His mission, called to bring faith, love, and hope to our cities. Faith that reaches those who are spiritually lost; love that heals the social pain of our people and hope that brings restoration to the systemic brokenness in our society.”

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Moving on to the exhibition, how many art forms and pieces of art were in the exhibition?

“There were several depictions of hope. From sculptures, poems, and artworks with clothing, charcoal, and salt, to animated stories, photography, pencil, acrylic, and oil artworks. Altogether, we presented 135 stories of hope!”

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How did you decide on the artists?

“I invited our congregation to depict hope in an artwork. I also approached well-known Christian and prophetic artists in the area and asked them to portray the theme. Then, the Holy Spirit intervened, inspiring and guiding people to us. I had to turn away several artists who wanted to exhibit their art, but it was either not Christian-inspired or themed around hope. I placed each artist’s description of hope alongside their artwork, to maintain the theme throughout the exhibition.”

Emily Pandaram | Beginner – First painting | “Amidst the golden sea of canola flowers a solitary girl stands, her silhouette etched against the sun-kissed petals. Her gaze, unwavering and hopeful, reaches beyond the horizon. Each vibrant bloom whispers promises of renewal, resilience, and the possibility of brighter days. In this sweet moment, she embodies the very essence of hope, a delicate yet unyielding force that blooms even in the vast expanse of uncertainty.”

How do you believe art contributes to our understanding and perception of hope, especially considering its subjective nature?

“If you were to ask a hundred people what hope means to them, how they perceive it, or what they place their hope in, you’d receive a hundred different answers. Hope is such a broad concept that everyone defines it differently. I’ve also realised that we often overlook so much hope in our lives because we don’t always lift our heads and look for it. Art provides a definition and portrayal of hope, making it visual and easier to convey; it transforms hope from an abstract concept into something tangible. Art not only places an image in your heart of what to hope for but also reveals where hope exists in other places, which you might otherwise overlook.”

Ina Ziady | Acrylic | Ina’s response to how she envisions hope, “A child’s hope in the things we cannot see, anchored in the grace throne of God, has always inspired me… Years ago I went on an outreach to Iris Ministries in Maputo, and this was how the children prayed and worshipped…”

What impact did the art exhibition have on the congregation and attendees, and can you share some of the feedback or reactions received from those who viewed the exhibition?

“Some attendees sent prophetic words for the artists, and many were moved to tears and had revelations while viewing the exhibition. On average, visitors spent at least an hour walking through the three halls of artworks and reflecting. Groups returned on multiple occasions to experience it again. Families were brought closer together as members shared their insights and messages. It was also profoundly meaningful for the artists themselves, including a super-talented 10-year-old girl! A common sentiment was gratitude: ‘Thank you, this has truly blessed me. Thank you for the initiative and the professional exhibition. We hope to see something like this again next year!'”

Were specific artists or art pieces highlighted during the exhibition, and if so, what was the significance behind their selection?

“Wow! There were indeed specific artists and art pieces that stood out during the exhibition! One artist, Karen van der Merwe, adopted a unique approach by writing a prophetic word on her canvas before painting, guided by divine inspiration. Her artworks, such as the one depicting a little girl for a friend struggling with conception, truly stood out.

Karen van der Merwe | Acrylic Painting | “For in this hope we were saved [by faith]. But hope [the object of ] which is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he already sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait eagerly for it with patience and composure.” — Romans 8:24-25 (AMP)

Another captivating piece she created was a canvas painted entirely in black the night before the exhibition deadline. Inspired by Romans 8:24-25, which speaks of the unseen nature of hope: (“For this is the hope of our salvation. But hope means that we must trust and wait for what is still unseen. Why would we need to hope for something we already have? So because our hope is set on what is yet to be seen, we patiently keep on waiting for its fulfillment.” — TPT), she invited viewers to reflect on their hopes through an interactive question incorporated into the artwork. This piece prompted deep contemplation among attendees, encouraging them to consider where and in whom they place their hope in life.”

How was the concept of art used to create a deeper connection or understanding of the Easter story and teachings among the congregation?

“Before attendees explored the exhibition, I encouraged them to read the descriptions of the artworks and identify which resonated most with their current circumstances or seasons of life. Additionally, I urged them to reflect on areas of hope in their lives they might have overlooked. In preparing their hearts this way, they were better equipped to connect with the theme of hope during our musical on Friday. Every mention of ‘hope’ in the performance resonated with their personal experiences and outlook, enhancing their understanding of the Easter message.”

Looking ahead, are there plans to continue incorporating art into future sermon series or church events at Doxa Deo Midstream?

“It was so wonderful to see how much talent there is on our campus and in our community, indicating that our creative thinking and expressions can certainly reach a higher level. Now that I know how many creative people are here, I will encourage them to pour more of their gifts into the Kingdom. But this will not be the only exhibition. The dream is for the exhibition to grow bigger each year, and extend it to multiple campuses and venues across South Africa!”

For more information on the Hope Art Exhibition or to connect with Chanéll Naudé, please email chanell.naude@doxadeo.org

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