Are we there yet

June 13-16, 2019
Bethel University
St. Paul, MN

To celebrate the 40th anniversary of CIVA’s founding, the 2019 biennial conference will return to our geographical roots at Bethel University. Are We There Yet is more than a catchy title— it’s a space for convergence: a chance to celebrate CIVA’s long history and devoted membership, as well as an opportunity to convene contemporary artists, collectors, ministers, and teachers seeking to understand the future of CIVA.

Entering the third decade of the twenty-first century, we recognize the unfinished state of our creative work, for CIVA, for the world. The concept of unfinishedness can be described in theological terms with the phrases like “already but not yet,” participating now in the “life of the world to come.” Meanwhile, the concept of unfinishedness is an essential lens through which to view art and art movements. What does leaving a work undone mean for an artist? And what effect does that have on the unfolding dialogue which ensues with its audience? Curator Alistair Sooke reminds us that there is an “important category of unfinished artwork: those that only seem unfinished, but which their artists actually deemed complete, because they were striving, intentionally, for an unresolved aesthetic.” Similarly, Swiss curator Hans Ulrich Obrist’s entire curatorial practice is grounded in asking artists “what their unrealized projects” are, and attempting to make “impossible things possible.”

Much has been achieved, yet much still remains to be explored and learned. It is with this understanding that we approach the 2019 CIVA Conference theme Are We There Yet.

We’re excited to recall how far the art and faith conversation has come, while providing a platform to a new generation of Christians in the Visual Arts. We believe that the work started 40 years ago by a group of artists committed to the idea of seriously exploring the intersection of art and faith has just begun. Together, we hope to embrace the discomfort of working within the tension of work unfinished.


The vision of CIVA is Serious Art. Serious Faith.

CIVA exists to further both of these pursuits, and its mission is best expressed in three primary and long standing commitments:

Called to Creative Work

Artists create culture. They have eyes to see, ears to hear, and hands to make. The genius of Christian community is that all who belong are invited to participate, invited to bring their skills and their passions to contribute to the greater good. As men and women bear God’s image by all kinds of creative expression, CIVA equips those called to the visual arts to flourish in their holy vocation and to pursue it with excellence.

Devoted to the Church

The visual arts help the Church to rehearse and remember the biblical story. The visual arts help congregations worship more deeply. The visual arts help Christian communities build a bridge to the non-believing world. The visual arts deepen times of personal devotion and prayer. As the Church awakens to its need for art and the artists who make it, CIVA deploys its expertise and resources to help the Church embrace the visual arts and bring work of quality and substance into its centers of worship and learning.

Present in Culture

Culture is that place where we “live and move and have our being,” that place where, each day and in every way, God’s people either magnify the presence of God’s Kingdom or diminish it. As the world needs the salt, light, and leaven of those who follow Jesus, CIVA cultivates an incarnational presence in contemporary culture that is marked by serious art, learning and practice, intellectual rigor, prophetic voice, serious pursuit of faith, and a spirit of hospitality.Together, we hope to embrace the discomfort of working within the tension of work unfinished.