Usually, when we think of visual art in religious and philosophical institutions, we think of Art History, The Church, and ancient iconographic pieces. It's not something people usually associate with present-day churches, which are often puritanesque inside: plain pews, barren walls (with the exceptions of bulletin boards). Religion (namely Christianity) has always been a thing of importance to a large majority of people of the South. And in Atlanta, I have noticed visual stimulation making a comeback in religious buildings.

Destiny Metropolitan

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My first church visit in my search for something visual was Destiny Metropolitan Worship Church. This was the church that sparked my interest in visual changes taking place inside of church buildings. The outside of the building was nothing special. Inside, however, I noticed clean, contemporary architecture and setup. Once I entered the sanctuary, I noticed that the altar area seemed more like a stage than anything else. It was clean and simple, but theatrical. The walls were decorated with colored lights shining on them, and the pulpit altar itself was clear and sleek. Interior design was clearly important at this establishment, and I began to wonder if art was seeping into religious communities.

If you are interested in skits with clear spiritual messages, or simply interested in listening to strong vocal performances, a visit to Destiny Metropolitan may be of interest to you.

St. Catherine of Siena

At St. Catherine of Siena, the Catholic church off Ben King Rd, I noted nothing of particular excitement. This Catholic church, like most others I suspect, existed simple iconographic sculptures of St. Catherine and the Virgin Mary near the altar. The Catholic church was a whole seems to be carrying on its iconographic traditions, but does not seem to be providing any artistic community.

Vineyard Community Church

You may not notice them, but Vineyard churches seem to be all over the place in Metro Atlanta, though their establishments are not large, near busy intersections like most churches, and do not seem to call much attention to themselves. In fact, I almost drove right by the Vineyard Community Church off of Sandy Plains when I visited.

I doubted its existence as a church as soon as I began walking toward the door. It was evening, and I had been told by a friend of mine that several bands and singers were playing there as a venue, and I could get in for five dollars. Outside the door were several young teenagers and young adults, most of whom were wearing tattered or punk-rock clothes and smoking cigarettes. This Christian community instantly gave me the impression that it was going to be different.

I entered the door not to be surrounded by a church narthex or sanctuary, but a coffee shop, with an open mic night stage set up.

Gigs were taking place between this coffee shop area and the main sanctuary, which was emptied of its chairs for standing room. Though very dark inside, I noted that there was artwork everywhere. My lasting impression is that this is an open-minded community that encourages creative outlet. Upon locating the website, I noticed they had an entire section devoted to the photography[[of one of theirmembers.

Artwork inside the church seemed to vary from crosses made of found objects, to more "decorative works" for interior design purposes in the coffee shop, to things like painted backs of skateboards. Though I might not enter most of the decor into an art exhibit, it was clear to me that this community was willing to open its mind to the visual arts.

BAHA'I Faith Center for Learning, Marietta

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The Baha'i Faith Center for Learning in Marietta, off Sandy Plains Rd., hosted the work and of artist Linda Voogt-Wood between March 18 to April 9, 2006. The exhibtion was called Waters of Unity, and the artist herself spoke on her perspective of the creative process on March 26th.

Linda Voogt-Wood has been active in the art scene in Atlanta, participating in KSU's College of the Arts, notabley the AIDS survival project. She also helped organize the well-received grand opening of Artbeat Alley at Artspace International.

Red Wall Studio Gallery

The Red Wall Studio Gallery finds itself on this page because of its most unexpected location: inside of a Catholic church. The St. John Chrysostom Melkite Catholic Church on Ponce de Leon, to be specific. The gallery features painting, sculpture, drawing, printmaking, ceramics and jewelry. It takes its name from the boldly red-painted walls. Currently exhibiting, until April 30th, is the Twilight Exhibit, featuring paintings by Lea Purvis.

The First Existentialist Congregation of Atlanta

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The First Existentialist Congregation, off Candler Park Dr., is known for its openness to the art community, often providing space for vocal performances, open-mic-type events, art classes and things of the like. I have been waiting for an art event to take place here for a rather long time so that I could check it out, but nothing seems to have come up in time for me to post. Keep checking the Activities and Events page so you don't miss any art events that may be taking place here.