Student serves by creating art

ASHLEY BURGER/TheThreefoldAdvocate

The audience, recently doubled over in mirth, now sat transfixed. The singer’s voice echoed as she drew her bow against the violin strings. At the conclusion, the crowd erupted in whoops and cheers and the girl with a mane of curly golden locks left the stage.

The performance earned Coral Bradshaw first place in the John Brown University’s talent show in February. 

The junior arts and illustration junior has a strong philosophy on art.

“Art is a language that speaks to and reaches people in a place that far surpasses words,” Bradshaw said.

Each day, Bradshaw strives to love God first so she may love others better. The arts are instrumental in strengthening her relationship with God.

“Arts is how I live, they are how I pray, how I worship. In light of my vocation, it’s how I love others,” Bradshaw said.

Philip Braun, a junior construction management major and friend of Bradshaw, views her life and art as a series of intentional acts.

“She doesn’t like to create something just because; I’m not sure if she really creates any art just for a class,” Braun said. “Almost all the art I’ve seen her make is for someone or something.”

Braun believes that though her classes require her to make art, her primary inspiration is not the classroom.

“The creative arts are for me, first and foremost, a method of worship,” Bradshaw said.

Bradshaw is successful not only as a visual artist, but also as a musician, proficient with at least seven different instruments including piano, violin, accordion, Irish penny whistle, ukulele and guitar.

Both the visual and musical arts play different but vital roles in Bradshaw’s life.

“I just crave them at different times and I turn to them at different times,” Bradshaw said.

Bradshaw spends time painting and drawing for quiet reflection and prayer. She makes music to worship.

Bradshaw said she can’t remember a time she wasn’t playing music in some form.

However, Bradshaw has only been participating in visual arts for the past four years, with no formal art training and classes. She desired to create art, yet feared failure.

Four years ago, Bradshaw experienced a chain of vivid and beautiful dreams that placed her at various intangibly gorgeous landscapes. In the dreams, she held a camera with which she attempted to capture the beauty. She’d wake from the dreams, dazed by the beauty and disappointed she couldn’t capture it.

Bradshaw faced decision: to create art, or to not.

Bradshaw said an out-of-control wildfire spread throughout the region of Virginia near her hobby farm and she was struck with a question: what will I regret losing most if our house burns down today?

She realized she would most regret losing her paint. She scrounged her basement, finding old craft paints and canvas. Bradshaw went to her room, closed the door, and painted. She has continued painting since that day.

Bradshaw expressed gratitude in her God-given talents.

“I study art because I want to communicate Christ as masterfully as possible through the creative languages he has given to pursue. Art touches me and so it is a passion of mine to touch people with art,” Bradshaw said.