Lubbock Christian University

LCU’s Missional Art Contest to Become Annual Event

Lubbock Christian University’s Missional Art Contest will become an annual competition as a coordination between several academic departments across campus.

The event, which was spearheaded by Ronelle Howell, Associate Professor of Art, and Shawn Tyler, Director of MissionLink and Lecturer in Bible, saw the entry of nearly thirty pieces of artwork inspired by students’ views on Missions—but it spent a long time in the minds of its planners before it became a reality.

“Shawn and I began talking about this over three semesters ago, before COVID-19 was even a thought,” said Howell. “His daughter-in-law is an artist herself and used to teach in LCU’s Fine Arts department—and he said he wanted to help make that connection between Art and Missions and promote those both together.”

While the pandemic ultimately slowed down plans to make this vision a reality, the idea never faded. Then in 2021, the ideas began to solidify, and opportunities began to open in the calendar that allowed plans to move forward. Shawn began collecting the funds for the cash prizes, and Ronell began to spread the word about the contest and deadline around campus, including its name, “Dan & Joyce Hardin Missional Art Contest,” and theme, “Redeeming.” The two worked together to find judges for the artwork, and even brought Dr. Joyce Hardin, former missionary and beloved former LCU Professor for whom the competition had been named, back to speak at the event itself.

Ronelle shared that the collaboration was invaluable. “Shawn Tyler’s vision for the show truly showcased the talented students within and outside of our art division and was a beautiful homage to the giants from our history here at LCU,” she said.

A few weeks ago, the event itself became a reality as nearly thirty art pieces were displayed for two weeks in an exhibit and honored at a reception in the Galleries in the Ling Center for Academic Achievement. Students, faculty, and staff from across campus gathered to celebrate the exhibit and its artists. Each work of art was displayed alongside an artist’s statement on the meaning and purpose of the project, and how it related to the theme.

Three winners and eight honorable mentions were awarded with cash prizes at the reception—Kathryn Zap, with her piece titled “Coming of Age,” was awarded the top honor of the show for its skillful incorporation of Native American beads alongside the personal testament to her individual story as a Native American student on LCU’s campus.

“My work explores the meaning of personal redemption and women’s empowerment,” she shared. “I also incorporate the importance of culture into my work.”

“Coming of Age,” its statement explained, featured a significant occasion for native American women. “The three-fold image of a young woman growing from an infant into her future self, is a statement of faith, passion, and inspiration,” it stated.

Ronelle and Shawn were both judges for the event, but they were also joined by Dr. David Fraze, who serves as the James A. “Buddy” Davidson Charitable Foundation Youth and Family Ministry Endowed Chair, and Jamie White, an adjunct professor of art at LCU.

“This event was special because we got to encourage our students to tell a story through art—we often forget, especially in our tradition, how image-rich our bible is,” Ronelle explained.

As plans for the next iteration of the event continue, Ronelle and Shawn are considering the possibility of opening the weekend for a workshop, providing a learning opportunity even for students who may not be enrolled in art classes.

Shawn praised Ronelle’s efforts in coordinating and putting on the event. “[She] spent many hours in class instruction and encouragement, collection of submissions, organizing the judging, setting up the gallery, purchasing the ribbons and so many other things... [Ronelle’s] heavy lifting of so many tasks made this art contest happen. [I congratulate her] on successfully hosting the first of what I hope to be many missional art contests.”

Dan & Joyce Hardin Missional Art Contest Winners:

  • 1st Place: Kathryn Zap
  • 2nd Place: Kyra King
  • 3rd Place: Meghan Nisbet

Honorable Mentions:

  • Zachary Angers
  • Carlos Barraza
  • Alexis Carrol
  • Liz Griego
  • Jace Morton 
  • Luke Hicks
  • River Rains
  • Graceanne Scott

Learn more about LCU’s Art and Missions programs.