Arts can make the transcendent and mystical manifest. Creativity can be a vehicle for connection with the Creator and with fellow humans. Jennifer Elam shares stories from the spiritual journey that began for her in the art studio at Pendle Hill, which led her to unlearn the idea she was not an artist and to go forward sharing Arts and Spirituality among Quakers and beyond by offering lessons and practices for all of us, whether we believe we are artists or not. Art as prayer, as conversation with God, invites the Spirit to be present and opens us to the creative muses. What we receive can be life-changing. Through her stories, we learn that art and creativity can be a spiritual path accessible to all. Included is an eight-page color insert of some of the images Jennifer discusses. Directions for making paste papers can be found on the last page.
About the Author(s)
Jennifer Elam is a Friend and a licensed psychologist who has studied Quaker spirituality and the lives of the Christian contemplatives and mystics. A longtime calling to live in community led her to Pendle Hill in 1996 as resident student and then as Cadbury Scholar. In the art studio at Pendle Hill, Sally Palmer became her mentor. The art forms she engaged in are now manifestations of her prayer life. Her paintings make visible her inner landscapes and provide a sanctuary for her soul. Jen’s media include writing, dancing, body prayer, drumming, book arts, paste papers, and life.
Creativity is Jen’s source for connection with her Creator and is at the center of everything she does. She holds master’s degrees in sociology and psychology and a PhD in school psychology from the University of North Carolina. She has served as assistant professor in human services and school psychology, psychologist in residential treatment, school psychologist in public schools, and as a school psychologist with three-to-five-year-olds. Jennifer has led over a hundred courses, workshops, and retreats in Arts and Spirituality and is the author of four books. Born in Kentucky, Jennifer is now writing passionately about her heritage. She is a member of Berea Friends Meeting in Berea, Kentucky, and attends Middletown Preparative Meeting in Pennsylvania.
Pendle Hill Pamphlet #452
NB: This pamphlet includes an eight-page color insert of some of the images Jennifer discusses. Click on the images below to see enlarged versions.