Beauty is in what you don’t see.
Paige Medlock Johnson grew up around Asbury University art majors, but didn’t realize she was an artist herself until partway through college. She switched her major from psychology to art and has been creatively pursuing her passion and her faith ever since.
“Sometimes you can’t see the whole picture until you step back,” Paige said. “You need art to help you see your reflection and through it, to what is beyond.”
Paige’s faith and artistic interest developed in a similar fashion to her creative process. She learned faith and art from her family. Yet as a teenager, she took a step back from her faith and her calling. She just needed to find out if Jesus was real.
“My parents told me it was okay to question my faith,” Paige said.
During the 8th and 9th grade, she backed off from Christianity, as she sought to understand what faith was to her. During that time, she went on a mission trip with her youth group to Dallas, Texas.
“In the stairwell of the church, I told God, ‘I think you’re real, but I need you to be real to me,’” Paige said. “’It’s a big deal if you’re not real, and it makes all the difference if you are.’”
From that point on, she started growing in her faith and in her love for art.
“I always loved art,” Paige said. “I had a great art teacher in junior high, but not in high school. In college, it was a humbling experience to realize that I could go to class to learn and like it.”
In elementary school, Paige created the first piece of art she liked, an art deco style stained glass mirror. Often, she would hop off the bus at the Asbury University Art Annex and learn art alongside other art majors. Paige’s dad, Rudy, taught art at Asbury University for 37 years before retiring.
“My love for art grew as I grew; my family visited museums, galleries, and studios wherever we traveled,” Paige said. “I learned to look, to visualize, to appreciate, and consider what things could be. But it took me some time to realize I could become an artist myself.”
After college, Paige taught art for nine years. During this time, she completed her M.A. in World Missions at Asbury Seminary. She loved teaching, art and missions, but couldn’t figure out how they connected. She moved to Scotland for an M.Litt in visual culture at the University of Aberdeen, which unfolded into further practice-based research.
Paige recently completed a practice-based Ph.D. in the visual culture of theology of stained glass from the University of Stirling. She hopes to teach artists to think theologically and help theologians understand the gift of art.
“Visual art is a place where something inside us can shift; it is an advocate between the way things were or are, and the way things could be,” Paige said. “Art is a possibility and an invitation for us to participate in the realization of that possibility. Art opens in us a space where we can see with compassion that leads to action.”
She is currently working on a stained glass piece for St. John’s Lutheran Church in Lexington, Ky. Her creative process started with a simple sketch of a Celtic Trinity Knot. She then doubled it, making it the Star of David, extending these lines to represent the 12 tribes of Israel.
Paige water colored some of the glass, then created a cutout of what the window would look like. She moved the cutout over the lines and colors until she liked what she saw through the windows.
“Ironically, the importance of the piece is actually what we can’t see,” Paige said.
Paige is opening Wee Glassy Studio in Wetumpka, Ala. She hopes her art inspires a shift inside others that leads to more compassionate actions. The mission of her studio is to create opportunities for our eyes to help our spirits see things differently.
Paige lives in Alabama with her husband Ryan and their three boys.
Paige shares practical advice to those just beginning their ministries from her own experience.
What do you wish someone had told you before you started your ministry?
- Don’t have an agenda.
- Go organic and be about the Kingdom.
- Be observant.
- Be humble.
- Find God at work.
- Extend grace and the fruits of the Spirit.
- Multiply grateful hearts.
What advice would you give someone just starting out?
- Don’t focus on sifting sand, find a rock and start building.
- Lighten up.
- Think creatively.
- Be connective.
- Pray always.
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