SUGAR HILL, Ga. -- The past fifty years has seen the transformation of modern art from the frame and pedestal of orthodoxy to the sensual experience-oriented nature of installations.
Kerry Jackson, installation artist, brings a Christian twist to his genre of art. “Drawing to the Rock” is an art experience that invokes the senses; special effects lighting, Christian rock music, and biblical narrations, amid live illustrations of scenes in Christ’s life creates the high-tech, multimedia, evangelistic experience of Jackson’s “Drawing the Rock.”
"Drawing to the Rock is a creative multimedia happening that combines audio and visual impression in a fresh way to present the gospel to an extremely media-minded culture," said John Yarbrough, vice president of evangelization with the North American Mission Board. "I can see this program being used in many different arenas to reach the lost and inspire the saved."
Jackson and his wife, Twyla, who serves as his light and sound technician, prepare the “Drawing to the Rock” stage for six hours, setting up six 32-by-40 in canvases, and lighting and sound systems.
During this quick-moving, hour-long presentation, Jackson captivates his audience through his live depictions of scenes in the bible, which he creates using various colors of chalk. In the vignette, Jackson uses a small sharp instrument to carve out the picture of an empty tomb. Recordings of biblical narratives and music by Christian artists such as Lincoln Brewster and Michael W. Smith supplement the live illustrations.
Adding to the mystery of the presentation, Jackson writes words backwards on the canvas, going from the right of the canvas to the left. At the end of the installation, Jackson invites his audience to pray with him in receiving Christ as their Lord and Savior.
"Hundreds have raised their hands saying God as spoken to them in some way," he said.
The inspiration for “Drawing to the rock” came a decade ago, while Jackson was attending a theological seminary. Jackson, who formerly owned an art studio in Jackson, Miss., sold his business and home and moved with this wife and two daughters to Fort Worth, Texas, where he enrolled in the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
"I had always wanted to own my business and was pretty successful at it," Jackson said. "I reached a point in my life where I had reached my goal but felt there had to be more to life than that. I soon realized that God was calling me into fulltime ministry."
It was at the seminary that Jackson discovered his true calling.
"While sitting in my car listening to music, waiting to pick my daughter up from piano lessons, God literally gave me a vision for 'Drawing to the Rock,'" Jackson recounted. "I literally saw a stage covered with scenes of the life of Christ utilizing special effects such as lighting, drama, etc. God even gave me the name, 'Drawing to the Rock,' at that time. The vision was so strong and clear that I cried and began praising and thanking God right there in my car."
Jackson, 44, also serves as the North American Mission Board’s promotion design specialist; he wishes to use his artistic gifts to glorify God by designing booths for state and national conventions as well as drawing chalk drawings and vignettes.
Recently, Jackson had contributed to his alma mater Mississippi State University, a painting of Lazarus wrapped in a burial head cloth, including the scripture John 11:14 where Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead, and a painting of a white-hooded member of the Ku Klux Klan with the scripture 1 John 3:15 condemning the sin of hatred running through the painting.
"At the exhibition, I saw many people stand before the paintings and discuss them," Jackson said. "I saw many of them write the Scripture references down and that's what I had hoped would happen."
Jackson’s illustrations have even reached the hearts of some Muslim refugees in Rome. During his mission trip to Italy, Jackson used his artistry to share Christ.
"Two men approached me and asked me to draw them a 'little picture of Jesus,'" Jackson recounted. "Of course, I was more than willing. After I drew the pictures, they carefully placed the drawings in their backpack for their trip back to the streets. ... Who knows what might happen next?"
Jackson looks forward to see God’s plan for him. “"I've learned that God's plans for my talents are more special than anything I could ever imagine," he said. "I want God to take this ministry wherever he wants to take it."
By Paulina C.