Ministry Through Art
Ministry comes in all shapes and forms. For most people, ministry might mean being a pastor or a missionary, but for MNU alum, David Platter (’06), ministry means art.
David graduated from MNU with a degree in Intercultural Studies. Although he came to MNU to play football he soon found a new passion – serving others through his art. Various mentors taught David that ministry comes in all shapes and forms and that ministry means being a follower of Christ and using ones passions to spread the Gospel. He recalled an experience when he first used his artistic abilities during MNU chapel.
“Dr. Beckum [MNU chaplain] asked me to paint a portrait of Jesus during a chapel service,” said Platter. “Until that moment, I thought that I would have to sing in order to lead during a chapel. That experience helped me realize my passion of using my art to share God’s Word and that I can communicate my testimony through my art.”
After graduation Platter decided to go onto graduate school at the University of Kansas, where he studied design and received a Master of Fine Arts degree in 2011. Platter was awarded the 2011 Outstanding Student Achievement In Contemporary Sculpture Award by the International Sculpture Center for his thesis exhibition, Charting the Self. This award gave Platter the platform to apply for and be accepted to the art-st-urban Residency in St. Urban, Switzerland.
In the summer of 2012, along with another artist, Magdel Fourie of South Africa, Platter went to Switzerland to attend the residency program. This program, founded by Swiss artist, Heinz Aeschlimann, allowed the two artists to work in Aeschlimann’s studio. The residency began with an introduction to bitumen, also known as asphalt, and various welding techniques, along with an all around materials exploration.
“Since this was an all-expense paid residency, I was really able to focus on my art,” said Platter. “I grew as an artist and learned how to experiment with different materials in order to create my art. I used asphalt, metal, wood, and tons of different materials during the program.”
After completion of the program, Platter returned to Kansas City to begin working in his studio as a professional artist. He described his job as having three separate facets – service/mentorship, personal artwork, and commission work.
Platter believes that it is important to teach others about art and to help artists expand their horizons. He spends part of each week helping out at museums, giving workshops, or artist talks. He also creates art whenever he finds inspiration or when he feels passionate about a specific topic.
“I love to create, but I spend the least amount of time on my own personal artwork,” Platter said. “I love doing ceramics, but I don’t get to spend a lot of time making pottery since I have a lot of other projects to do.”
The third facet of Platter’s career is his commission-based work. His goal for these projects is to become part of the community that is commissioning his work and to help that community reach a specific vision.
“When I create projects for different communities or organizations, I feel as if I am an honored guest,” explained Platter. “I am honored to be given the various projects and I love hearing people’s stories. Once I hear people’s stories, I feel that I am able to honor those people through my art.”
Platter explained that there are two ways he accepts commissioned projects. The first is when individuals ask him to create a piece of artwork. When approached with a project, Platter makes sure that the project will fit with his passions.
“I’m not interested in doing a job,” said Platter. “I want to do something that I enjoy and am passionate about.”
Platter also said that he is learning how to sit back and evaluate each opportunity.
“The fun part of being a Christian is being able to serve,” Platter said. “It is also important to know how to choose which project I am passionate about in order to complete that service.”
The second way Platter finds projects is by reading about various open calls for submissions. He looks online, in newspapers, or through word of mouth. After he learns about an open call for a project, he evaluates if he is passionate about the project.
One such project he is currently working on is called Embracing Heart. This project was inspired by a church who wanted a piece of art to depict the story of the Prodigal Son. Platter explained that once he decided to apply for the project, he submitted a proposal. Once his proposal was selected, he then created a model of his sculpture to receive approval from the church.
“I was really able to tap into my relationship with God,” said Platter. “This prodigal son sculpture was truly divinely inspired from my relationship with Christ.”
Platter explained that the Embracing Heart sculpture embodies the idea that the church is made of people that need help and that it is a mutual piece, which means that it is a two-way relationship with Christ.
“You can look at the sculpture from any angle and see that the embrace is a two-way embrace; it epitomizes the relationship we have with Christ,” Platter explained.
Platter credits his success as an artist to the preparation that MNU gave him as a student.
“If it weren’t for the various mentors and professors in my life at MNU, I would not have become the artist I am today,” said Platter. “They challenged me to expand my thinking and to be open-minded to new ideas. My experience at MNU was truly invaluable.”
Platter currently resides in Kansas City, Kan. with his wife, Jennifer (O’Neill ‘06).