22 Jan 2015 by Adeline Lum CM-
On 11 January 2015, Art Sowers held an Art Talk, “Imperfect Art, Perfect Message” in DUMC, Petaling Jaya, Selangor.
“Imperfect Art, Perfect Message” is an art that reveals the search for perfection. It’s an art that accepts the imperfect world when Jesus becomes one’s perfection. Five local artists or designers shared their journey of art with God and how God influenced their creativity.
Tau Fei is the founder of Art Sowers. He has an extensive working experience in both Advertising Agencies and Design Consultant Firms for the past 13 years before he started his own design company five years ago. In addition to managing his own design company, he lectures part-time at The One Academy.
Tau Fei has experienced countless rejections and humiliation before he became an Art Director in year 2003. In his first job, his Art Director told him that he would need to claim only half his salary if he wanted to learn. And back in 1997, during the economy recession, Tau Fei could hardly live on his salary. At that time, no one was willing to guide him; he felt empty, lonely, and heartbroken. Most nights, he would hide in his rented room and cry.
Nevertheless, Tau Fei persevered on. He learned as many skills as he could, but all through gruelling ways until one day, God softly whispered into his heart, “Tau Fei, from today onwards, I will be your master. I will teach you and walk with you.” That was the defining moment—God picked him up!
In 2008, Tau Fei faithfully embraced God’s presence in his art and design. And out of 1,900 posters submitted by 1,257 participants from 70 countries in an international competition held in Greece, his poster was awarded as one of the best 10 posters within the theme “Dreams.”
God brought Tau Fei to Greece for the award ceremony and God continued to inspire him. After the trip, God also transformed his heart. Tau Fei started to see God in his art. God renewed Tau Fei’s passion and filled him with the Spirit of God; he was blessed with wisdom, knowledge, skills, and understanding. Upon returning home, he started Art Sowers to embrace God’s presence in his art and to sow God into people’s hearts.
However, Tau Fei only got serious with Art Sowers in the early 2014 when he was heavily burdened by God’s prompting. After attending an Alpha Malaysia conference called “Vision of Action”, God spoke clearly to him to put down his stakes and turn his visions and dreams into a reality.
Hence, on 11 January 2015, Tau Fei obeyed God’s calling for him to hold an Art Talk entitled “Imperfect Art, Perfect Message” in DUMC. This title describes an art that depicts the search for perfection epitomized by Jesus, while accepting our imperfect world.
The event drew more than 30 people from the Art College and industry. Many people had been asking him about this event and all he said was: “I do not know what to expect and neither do I know what to share but surely, God is at work. Just come and experience Him in this event.”
He also shared that his art journey is an outpouring of who he believed he is created to be. As he creates art, he could sense that God is working through him and He always has something to say.
“I am blessed as I watch how in the process, seeds of hope, renewal, and inspiration are sown in others through art. I have seen people in tears after looking at my posters in my exhibition. And I believe many will be sown into God’s Kingdom,” said Tau Fei.
As he continued to faithfully walk with God in his art journey, God blessed him with many awards. In 2010, the same poster in the “Dreams” theme was selected for an exhibition in Central House of Artist in Moscow, Russia. His poster was published in Moscow International Biennale of Graphics Design. And in 2012, his calendar design entitled “Trinity” for DUMC won an award from Creativity International from United States of America.
In 2011, God brought Tau Fei to The One Academy of Art & Design College. Although he knew that he is not qualified to teach yet, God reminded him that He is the one who qualified him with experiences and international recognitions, and that he has a mission in this college to lead a Christian Fellowship (CF). The calling was challenging because this CF is not officially recognized in this college. Yet, he witnessed many miracles taking place. Today, he can proudly say that God’s name is lifted up high in this college because of His Grace, His Mercy, and His Love.
And in 2013, God guided Tau Fei to lead his students to win a Gold award from from Creativity International from United States of America. That was how God put his name in the college for recognition, so that he can continue to glorify His Name. Since then, Art Sowers has been part of his CF to disciple the next generation of artists and designers.
Tau Fei also explained how most of his artwork is not what many would call as overtly “religious.” Yet, everything he creates flows out of his deepest expression of God’s love—tears of joy as well as tears of sorrow.
Tau Fei was once deeply hurt, so much so his agony affected his creativity. But every time he produced an art piece, God would use his painful experience to produce an art piece.
One day, he asked The Lord, “Lord, why am I inspired through this way? I would rather not be born as an artist.” But God said, “Tau Fei, I know your pain. This is our story. I love you enough to walk this journey with you. Therefore, wait for me.”
Each time, after Tau Fei created an art piece out of his painful experience, God would take away his pain and emptiness.
He continued: “Most of the time, I don’t have a final visual of how my artwork would look like. It’s not important to me at that time. The most important thing is how I pray to God for inspiration, listen to Him, and finally capture this vision and execute it.
“Sometimes, my mind is blank but I continue to trust the Lord. He will give you something: words, visions, even when you go out, God would show you something. And all these are very personal to me.”
Tau Fei shared how the Lord prompted him with fleeting visions to inspire him. For instance, he shared how seeing Colonel Sanders in KFC and its slogan ‘KFC So Good’ evolved into becoming Jesus with a beard with the slogan ‘Jesus so good.’
The Lord promised Tau Fei that He would multiply his talents and He will make him someone influential for his art, based on Gen 12:2.
I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you;
I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.
A person with a high ambition, Tau Fei aspired to be ‘Asia’s hottest creative director’ like the ones he read about in the advertising magazine. His heart’s desire is to be onstage with the elite before an esteemed audience. But God brought him to Sarawak for a short mission trip to share his art to the Orang Asal.
What happened was after he came back from the short mission trip, the Lord said to him, “Tau Fei, you have to start somewhere here and reach out to people who really need you.” This experience was more amazing than his heart’s desire.
When he embraced that moment, God promoted him to be part of the Livewire’s conference as their design trainer; he got a slot to share in an auditorium. He said to God, “Lord, this is enough for me. I am happy and excited.”
“But God continues to be faithful in His Promise,” said Tau Fei. On 31 December 2014, he was asked to share about “Dialogue with God through Art” with over 2000 people in DUMC.
As he reflected back his journey with God, he was amazed how God has walked with him closely to fulfill his heart’s desire but in God’s timing and in God’s way.
One of his poster “Where is God? Here is God.” has touched many hearts over the years and has been shared in social media. This poster was created as a result from his conversation with God. At one point, he constantly questioned God’s existence until one day, God turned his question mark into His full stop. That’s when he saw God’s answer in the midst of his question mark. Till today, God has been using this poster to minister to many people, bringing tears of redemption to the lost.
He also recalled how God rebuked him in an art piece when he was doubtful of God’s love; he asked God, “Lord, do you really love me?” God says, “Tau Fei, why are you doubtful of my love for you?” In the midst of his two question marks, God revealed His love to him.
One night after work, he was sitting in the office experimenting with drawing thousands of colorful lines with the word Jesus embedded in it. He created this poster as his personal art collection. Later, he printed out this poster only to realize that something was unusual about this poster.
“When I am close to this poster, I can’t see the word ‘Jesus.’ But when I walked away, I saw the word ‘Jesus’ very clearly,” said Tau Fei. God was saying to him, “When you’re close to the material world, you cannot see me. The colorful lines are your material stuff.”
There was a time in his life when he felt very lonely and tired, yet God comforted him with a message that he visualized into a poster for his personal collection. It was God’s assurance in his life that He will neither forsake nor leave him. This poster served as a reminder that in the beginning, there is God. And in the year 1975, God created him, where his life is all about himself: “ME.” But when God transformed him 180 degrees, his “ME” was turned to “WE”—that’s when in his present life, it’s all about God and him together, symbolizing “WE” and no longer “ME.”
At one point in time, God even inspired him with Chinese characters to represent His message: “God speaks through His mouth (kǒu) and He helps us to build our lives as strong as a rock (shí). In the end, we live our lives with integrity (lěi). Each poster carries the word “kǒu”, which represents God’s word from His mouth.
Although Tau Fei is illiterate in Chinese, God’s inspiration came to him in the form of Chinese characters. It became clear to him that this was God’s way to inspire him. Remarkably, this poster has been used to share the gospel in seconds!
In 2014, God prompted his heart to start an exhibition with the limited time and money he has. So, he prayed, “Lord, if this is your will, I will do it with all my savings. I know it’s not enough. Help me.”
So on 3 to 25 May 2014, he started out this journey to Penang with his designers by faith. It was named “Momentarily Lost, Permanently Found.” And praise God! The venue was sponsored, the air cons were installed, the helpers came in, and all resources were provided in the nick of time.
He also shared how he involved Jesus in his exhibition by making Him a tag. This act of faith has served him a good reminder that Jesus is in control.
One of the testimonies shared in the exhibition was a lady visitor from the United States of America. When she visited on that particular Sunday, the exhibition strangely had no other visitors. The Lord prompted Tau Fei to leave her alone. And when he returned to her, she was in tears because she was looking at the poster “Where is God? Here is God.” That moment was a divine appointment for him to share about God’s love to this lady. True enough, this lady was searching for her purpose in life and God had the perfect timing in this exhibition.
There were also many responses from visitors both local and overseas such as United States of America, United Kingdom, and Australia. Many of them left in an inspiring, encouraging and heart-warming note. Some of them said, “I felt the presence of God in this exhibition.” Some even took photos of the posters and sent to their friends to bring them hope and encouragement. “At the end, many were touched by the presence of God,” said Tau Fei.
At the end of this exhibition, God paid the bill! No one believed this exhibition required less than RM4,000 instead of the expected RM30,000 to RM40,000 of holding an exhibition. God is at work!
And because of the exhibition, the talk by Art Sowers was conceived based on Exodus 35:31: “…and he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills.”
Tau Fei also shared that the church was once the workshop for the greatest art the world has ever known. Just take a look at an ancient cathedral and the Renaissance painting. All of these are amazing art. But where are we today?
Many churches are no longer seeking to create unique encounters with God in art. There is very little about the modern evangelical church that is creative. And this is a huge problem. If the church is going to reach to the next generation, we must start something NOW!
Therefore, Art Sowers is an Art Movement for all Christians who are involved in creativity to come together to engage new culture and to rebuild our creative heart to reclaim our place as a creative leader and put God’s glory into Art once again.
The vision of Art Sowers is to encourage, to empower, and to edify Christian arts to lift up the glory of God’s creativity. And its mission is to transform the world through God’s creativity.
All artworks shown are inspired by God and conceived by Art Sowers.
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