Five young poets and musicians graced the Echo Park area of Los Angeles with personal stories, graceful tones, and high-hitting notes on Thursday evening as they performed at ISAAC’s 11th annual Gala ArtFest.
ISAAC (Innovative Space for Asian American Christianity) is known for the intellectual and experiential ways through which it encourages Christians to explore the intersection of their faith and culture, as they have organized numerous symposia, hosted interns at differing cultural contexts, and taken learners to historical sites, among other efforts.
All the while, music and the arts have consistently been a part of ISAAC’s events, including at its galas and symposia.
Dr. Young Lee Hertig, the executive director of ISAAC, said she has wanted to platform these artists because the arts are a significant part of any movement or exploration of faith and culture.
“Without the folk artists and songwriters, the Civil Rights Movement wouldn’t have been the same,” said Lee Hertig. “So I’ve just been dreaming of how I can platform these talented young artists as much as I can.”
The ArtFest featured performances from singer-songwriter duo Villa, spoken word artists Kevin Velez and Jacqulyn Whang, and singer-songwriter Priska.
Their pieces ranged in content, from vulnerable musings on love, to lessons learned from teaching, to confessions of faith, to stories about living as an ethnic minority in the U.S.
This year’s ArtFest also featured remarks from Dr. Sunny Kang, head pastor of St. Luke’s Presbyterian Church.
Kang emphasized the need to incorporate more of the arts in churches today. Just as the arts in the Middle Ages -- such as stained glass windows -- were among the main ways through which individuals expressed their faith, the arts still have significant roles to play in churches today, Kang said, if churches would provide that space.
“Churches are doing old methods and not adjusting,” Kang said. “We must rediscover how the arts will be used.”
Meanwhile, the ArtFest concluded ISAAC’s second Ecumenical Asian North American Women (EANAW) Retreat, which took place from May 2 to 4 at the Cathedral Center of St. Paul.