Creating for the Creator

As a mechanical engineering major, Cooper Fitch missed opportunities to use artistic talents he had cultivated in high school and decided to enter the McInteer Art Competition. The 2023 contest theme was “David: Psalmist, Sinner, Warrior, King.” Fitch chose to focus on specific objects representing each element of David’s life and placed them in his hands — an intimate representation of David’s humanity. 

Chosen as the 2023 winner, Fitch spent the summer completing charcoal drawings on a scale larger than he had ever worked with before. An engineering intern in Michigan, he had to transport these pieces and all his supplies more than 1,000 miles and work on the collection in a makeshift workspace. The experience gave him an opportunity to spend more time in Scripture and practice relying on God.


“I had to go back and really identify what made these different aspects of [David’s] life important,” Fitch said. “What struggles did he go through? What challenges did he face? Also, it’s a very tedious process to create these detailed artworks, so just trusting in God …, not rushing it and learning to be patient all helped throughout this process.”

Fitch is the fourth winner of the McInteer Art Competition, a contest that was designed to fill the McInteer Bible and World Missions Center with art. This project was born out of an effort to curate beautiful spaces where students can better engage with theology and biblical studies. 

The competition is organized by the College of Bible and Ministry’s aesthetics committee, which also commissioned Tessa Davidson, assistant professor of art, to create large-scale oil paintings of the Old and New Testaments for the dean’s suite. After more than five months of research and meditation on Scripture, Davidson began with preliminary sketches as she sought to depict the full arc of “the greatest story ever told.” 


“Art echoes how God communicates with us,” Davidson said. “When God proclaims truth, he doesn’t just do it through words; he does it through colors in the sky. … Putting an emphasis on filling these spaces with beautiful color combinations and … also turning those beautiful images into proclamations of the gospel … is one of the greatest things we can do.”

The figures in the paintings were modeled by members of the Harding community from all over the world showcasing an intimate connection to the University and the global nature of the kingdom of God. A local church elder is building frames for the pieces from old pews, reflecting the unity of the people of God, a partnership between the University and local congregations. The Old Testament piece is expected to be completed in summer 2024.






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