Reshaping the Church

Creativity ushers healing at the Artfull*Faith Studio

Posted March 18, 2024

by Sara Junkins

Sandy Kaye Moss is the founder of the Artfull*Faith Studio. Photo by Sandy Kaye Moss for Artfull*Faith Studio

Through the Artfull*Faith Studio, Sandy Kaye Moss teaches classes to help believers use their creativity to hear from God. Motivated by a passion for her faith, art as therapy and neuroscience, she demonstrates how art can be a tool to enrich one’s relationship with the Lord.

In an interview with Koinesúnē Magazine, Moss highlighted her goal of using her studio to introduce individuals to another way to speak to God.

She discussed how every individual can talk to God through art because we were created in His image, which she notes as being the reason why we communicate.

Moss explained how “in His image” comes from the Hebrew phrase, “His shadow,” which means that we are not only His children but His shadow too.

“He created [the heavens and the earth], so everywhere He moves, we are to move with Him in His shadow,” Moss said. “That's what art is—it’s us creating the same way He created.”

Moss believes that God invites us to create with Him and experience Him on a deeper level through the gift of creativity, she said. She wants everyone to know about this concept, which is the basis of her studio.

The Studio’s Origins

Moss’ journey with the studio began about two and a half years ago when she had a foundational conversation with a lady while in line at a coffee shop.

Moss said the lady she encountered was just visiting the area around Branson for the day with a friend. She discussed how she was speaking with the lady about her aspiration to start an art studio with the goal of teaching people about art processes and the concept of art as therapy.

Moss told the woman about how God was healing her personally and how art as therapy can help people with PTSD, compassion fatigue and other mental health concerns.

Moss noted how the woman she was speaking with loved what she had to say. Eventually the woman asked Moss a question that would change everything:

“Do you think there's a way that we can use our art to communicate with God and experience Him?”

Moss officially started the studio a year and a half after this encounter, but she was struggling because it did not go anywhere, she said. She was trying to figure out what she was supposed to do next.

The First Art Prayer

During the same time, a man was working on Moss’ property. He started telling her about his life, which would later lead to a breakthrough in the formation of The Artfull*Faith Studio.

As Moss got to know the gentleman through his continued property work over the next year, she met his family and learned about some of his life struggles as well as his difficult upbringing, she said. While he was talking about his hardships, Moss would share Scripture with him.

Since meeting the gentleman, Moss had met many of the people who lived near his area, which was overrun with alcoholism and drug use, she said. Moss met many amazing people who were trying to figure things out despite their discouraging living environment.

“They did not know too much about God except that they believed in Him,” Moss said.

God allowed Moss to go into the area and have conversations about Him with the people there, she said.

One night, Moss sat down and knew she needed to pray for them, she said. She knew what she wanted to convey in her prayer, but she was having trouble finding the exact words to use.

“I was thinking, ‘How am I going to pray through this?’ Moss said. “I knew all the ‘stuff,’ but I was just saying, ‘Hey God, how can I partner with you in this? How are we working in this?’”

“I was trying to figure out what and how to pray [for them] and I was stuck and I started drawing,” Moss said.

That drawing became the first art prayer Moss created, she said. It was a prayer for the gentleman’s local community.

A year after Moss’ conversation with the stranger in a coffee shop, she finally had a clear understanding of what artful prayer looked like, she said.

“Prayer for Local Community.” Photo by Sandy Kaye Moss for Artfull*Faith Studio

Created to Create

In the drawing, Moss created the trailer that the gentleman was living in at the time and the geography of the land which was characterized by a valley and a small river between mountains. The area was full of agriculture and cows.

As the number of individuals Moss wanted to pray for increased, she used colored squares to represent each person. As she drew, the words started to follow and she realized how God was at work in this process.

Moss analogized the process of an art prayer to how parents sit on the floor and color with their children. She described how this was what God was doing with His children.

“It’s our Dad coloring with us,” Moss said. “When we color, when we create, when we draw— He is with us, and it’s like God is getting on the floor and coloring with us.”

Moss shared some of her other art prayers during the interview. Through a drawing she made featuring a peacock, she prayed for the mother of her friend, but Moss had no idea her friend’s mother loved peacocks until after the drawing was complete. Another one of Moss’ art prayer pieces included butterflies, which represented some personal processes she was working through.

“I don’t have to remember all the details of what the art means because it’s a process, but God knows it and that’s what counts,” Moss said.

“Abundant Grace.” Photo by Sandy Kaye Moss for Artfull*Faith Studio

Neuroscience’s Role in “Be Still and Know” (Psalm 46:10)

Neuroscience connects to what God was revealing to her about art, Moss said. Over the past 10-15 years, she had been researching neuroscience in her free time.

Moss is fascinated with how God created the brain, she said.

“In the brain we have a neurotransmitter or hormone called norepinephrine that connects us to long-term memory,” Moss said. “That is how we see everything every day through the filter of our long-term memory. So, when we talk about renewing the mind through Christ, this is a science thing also.”

When we renew our minds in Christ, the Holy Spirit allows us to be right where we are—in focus at the present time—and norepinephrine is inhibited, Moss said. When inhibited, people go into flow state.

During flow state, a person does not read the moment with any judgment of the past or preconceived notions of the past, Moss said. Many people experience flow state while partaking in an activity they enjoy, whether that activity is gardening, cooking, jogging or working with animals.

In flow state, heart rate and breathing slows down, and the person loses track of time, Moss said. A person typically does not even recognize they are in flow state until they get out of it.

As for art specifically, Moss describes how when someone is drawing, that is one portion of the brain activated. Painting, for example, activates another portion of the brain. Different hand movements activate different parts of the brain.

Entering flow state while creating is the biblical equivalent of the verse: “Be still and know that I am God,” which means “stop warring,” Moss said.

The inhibition of norepinephrine allows us to experience the embodiment of this Scripture and Matthew 6:25-34, which says “do not worry about tomorrow,” Moss said.

Studying Scripture With Art

Moss makes the art showcased on her Youtube channel while she is in flow state. On her channel, she regularly posts Artfull*Faith devotionals and other related content.

Being in flow state allows her to hear God better without distractions, Moss said.

In conjunction with this idea, Moss mentioned the concept of what she calls “breadcrumb Scripture” — when one passage in Scripture brings another to mind while talking about it, she said. The concept refers to the Holy Spirit teaching the Church how different Scriptures work together.

Moss transitioned from praying with art to studying Scripture with art, she said. While she is not drawing pictures of Biblical stories, Scripture still guides her art.

“It is symbolism — movement — and it's just paying attention to color when you're reading the Scripture and thinking about it,” Moss said.

Moss made an art prayer based on 2 Corinthians 10:5 and Matthew 20:32, she said. The piece displays how every thought we take captive and submit is actually a building block of faith.

“God takes those thoughts we have taken captive and He builds them, whether good or bad, into us recognizing the amount of Faith He is giving us,” Moss said.

The flowers at the center of her piece symbolize how it is a “mosaic of life,” she said.

“Scripture Study: Matthew 20:32.” Photo by Sandy Kaye Moss for Artfull*Faith Studio

How to Experience Artfull*Prayer

Moss has a free course called Tangled Prayers on her website for anyone interested in the artistic approach of encountering God. When describing the lesson, she referenced Paul Klee, an artist who was known for the saying “take a dot for a walk.”

Moss’ approach first involves putting the pen down, and without lifting the pen, making loops. Then, the person can go back and think about a person or situation being prayed about and draw that inside of a loop, continuing this process until all loops are filled.

Since similar memories are stored together in the brain, this process is helpful for sorting through them, Moss said.

When someone draws a line on paper, the action creates a framework or a neuropath in the brain and allows the brain to begin the process of separating certain events, Moss said. The Tangled Prayers course centers around working through overwhelming prayers.

Color can represent thoughts and feelings, like stress, fear or anxiety, Moss said. Color can also represent something you want to pray for, like using pink to symbolize peace, for example.

Danette, a participant from one of Moss’ classes, shared her experience:

“The time that I have spent in Sandy’s Art*Full Prayer class helped me open my understanding of prayer and contemplate God’s attributes in a very positive and honest way. Using art to have a conversation with my Creator is a method that I had simply never considered. It’s a very soothing and relaxing process that is edifying to my soul and my relationship with God,” Danette wrote in a review on The Artfull*Faith Studio’s website.

“Who Told You? Genesis 3:11.” Photo by Sandy Kaye Moss for Artfull*faith Studio Online Class “God’s Heart for You”

Creating as a Form of Worship

Christians are temples of God like in 1 Corinthians 6:19, Moss said.

Each believer is also like Bezalel, the person God appointed to build the temple in Exodus 31:1-5, Moss said.

“We often forget how the Temple was a masterpiece, like a gallery with 3D installation art and tapestry,” Moss said.

“God showed him the plans and showed Bezalel what He was doing,” Moss said.

The same goes for believers, Moss said. Believers are the temples of God and artwork flows from them.

Creating is a form of worship, Moss said. She believes every single person is creative and has the ability to have a conversation with God through paint, markers and crayons.

To learn more about Moss and her studio, you can explore her website.

Sara graduated from the Providence College Honors Program in 2023. She was a double major in Creative Writing and Art History. At Providence, she served as one of the student leaders in the college's Campus Ministry program.