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Surprised by Joy

Aug 2, 2023

“I want to share the joy of the Lord through my art with as many people as I can.”

Beth Heisey, long-time member and attender at Grace Polaris Church in Westerville, Ohio, uses her paintings to spark Gospel conversations about being forgiven.

“My art is about how I feel when I confess my sins — I am forgiven. I know I don’t deserve this, so it always on some level surprises me,” Beth said. “It makes me feel weightless, lighter than air, and my heart skips a beat. I feel joy and freedom.”

Beth taught high school art for 34 years before retiring in 2021. During her career as a teacher, she helped students understand that their art can have meaning. She worked with students to show them how their gifts can be used to bring honor and glory to God through their creative expression.

After she retired, Beth was seeking ways to still use her creativity to impact others. One day she stopped into a local art gallery and found out there was an opening for an artist residency. She applied, explaining that her art would be centered around her relationship with Jesus. The gallery accepted her, and for the past year she has been painting in her studio space in the gallery.

Beth’s paintings feature a figure floating upward. Beth said, “It represents that moment when I realize — all over again — that despite being saved once and for all, each day I am still forgiven for my ongoing mistakes, shortcomings, and sin. I feel like I’m floating.”

When people enter the gallery and ask about her art, Beth is able to explain her reasoning for the floating figure. She uses the imagery to start a conversation about what it means to be forgiven and the feeling of freedom it elicits.

In September, Beth will travel to Juneau, Alaska, for a three-week artist residency. She created a series of paintings to be displayed in a coffee shop in Juneau that feature a floating figure over familiar landmarks. She hopes to connect with locals and tourists while there and be able to explain the meaning behind her work.

“My art is about my faith. As Christians we have real joy because Jesus died for our sins and gave us forgiveness and freedom.”