Story, Value, and Becoming More Real
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Unveiling a new role with Cultivating!

October 7, 2022

Lancia E. Smith



Some of the most beautiful things come to pass only by following a long winding road. Today, it is my joy to share one of those beautiful occurrences with you. Long desired and laboured over, I am officially unveiling a new role in Cultivating ~ Artist-in-Residence

What is an Artist-in-Residence and how does that work at a magazine published online without a physical building? In the widely established sense of the term, an artist-in-residence is an artist granted a position in a residency program with a museum, university, or publication, and that status of residency allows the artist a place to work outside of their usual place, and often with extra support for their artistic practice, and opportunities for new collaboration. Cultivating is not an institution in the sense I’ve just described, so what does it mean to be an Artist-in-Residence here? 

Every member of The Cultivating Project, in a very real sense, is already an artist or writer in residence for Cultivating. We reside with each other in heart, and dwell together in this fellowship as a place of shelter and nurture. However, the role and title of Artist-in-Residence means we are giving a particular honour and acknowledgment to an individual among us whose life and work is worthy of emulating, someone who embodies what it is to be a cultivator. Someone who offers us a special clarity about living into our calling and identity by the way they live into theirs, and who faithfully models that persistent courage required to overcome the obstacles and isolation we all face. 

In that light, it is my honour to announce that our first Artist-in-Residence is beloved story-painter and illustrator, Amy Grimes


From first enchantment

From the first time I saw the artwork of illustrator and story-painter, Amy Grimes, I was enchanted. Her paintings are full of both darkness and light, a quality I relate to as as a photographer. Her subjects often might be described as whimsical, but there is really nothing trivial about them. Amy’s subjects seem to be children, but on deeper reflection it becomes increasingly clear that those sweet, innocent, figures are more mirrored images of our younger selves looking back at us now.

Amy’s body of work is consistently marked by her distinctive style and high standards. There is nothing pretentious about her art, and nothing proud. Taken as a whole, it is its own world, to which the viewer is kindly invited to enter and linger. That world from edge-to-edge sings of goodness, and light overcoming the darkness. Every twinkling star and shining moon, every sun, every sparkling cloud and stalwart tree, every merry beast large or small, bravely and kindly bears witness to the Light.  

A long, winding road

I started following Amy’s posts on Instagram in 2019, marveling in their beauty. When she offered a painting for sale that I had fallen in love with (“The Light Wins”) I was thrilled to be able to buy it. That painting started a dialogue between Amy and me that led to a set of “stepping stone” events over several years. 

In February 2020 (right as COVID hit the world) I was privileged to commission a series of four paintings by Amy. The series is titled, Lighting Candles by Starlight and you can read more about it here.  Those beautiful paintings are now hung in our home, and they bear testimony to the wonder of what happens when vision and gifting are shared collaboratively. 

The initial sketch for Receiving Life, first painting in the “Lighting Candles by Starlight” series, by Amy Grimes, commissioned for Cultivating.

Then, in April 2021, I invited Amy to join The Cultivating Project as one of our own fellowship members. When I did, I also invited her into a role that I had never offered, but had longed to for years. Yet, as life sometimes unfolds, my heart went well before my capacities and I was unable to pull the necessary elements into place to frame this special role. In the long months of difficulty that followed in my own life, Amy’s kindness, grace, and patience prevailed, and those may well be her greatest works of art.

The Gift of Collaboration

Over those months as I was sinking in discouragement, the Lord did a beautiful work.

In August of 2022, just as I had experienced it with Amy in our collaboration for the “Lighting Candles by Starlight” series, I experienced the wonder and beauty of collaboration again. In this instance it was with Nicole Howe, Cultivating’s Director of Fellowship and Formation, and with Leslie Bustard and Annie Nardone. Leslie and Annie, both accomplished educators and art lovers, responded generously to meet a critical need, and took on the role of shepherding the cohort of our visual artists in The Cultivating Project. A very specific part of that was creating the shape (i.e. curriculum) for the artist-in-residence role and program. It was amazing to me that within a few swift weeks, they mapped out a beautiful course for artist-in-residence specially tailored for Amy and offered it to her; Amy accepted, and a way forward was made for this good work.

A longing is fulfilled and a grief mended. Such is fruit of fellowship! 

Please join us in a year-long adventure and enjoy keeping company with Amy Grimes and her beautiful presence here. 

The featured image is (c) courtesy of Russ Grimes. 

For lovely introduction to Amy Grimes style follow here and Amy’s beautiful website here. 


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  1. June says:

    Welcome, Amy! Looking forward to seeing all the goodness unfold!

  2. Emily says:

    Excited about this! I have been following Amy since seeing her work here & look forward to even more! 💕

  3. We are so excited too for this. I am certain beautiful things will emerge through this process over the year and we will all be amazed to see what blooms from it. Amy is such a remarkable human being it truly is our joy and honour to have her in this role with The Cultivating Project.

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