Hi, I'm Jesse Ferguson,
I am an artist, but there is more to it than that.
Why I am no longer a pastor:
I avoided being an artist. I even kept my dream of making money doing art a secret. Why? I had heard that God's highest calling was: PASTOR. And even better: CHURCH PLANTER.
I kept finding myself distracted as I planted a church in Seattle. I was constantly creating art and inventing. I came to the conclusion that to focus on ministry I needed to do something drastic.
I chose to quit making art, cold turkey.
Then I had cravings. I laugh now, the signs that I was an artist were stupidly obvious. I once made a complex device that instantly switched a wooden staff out for a real albino rat snake. The sermon was about Moses experience with the miraculous. The illusion was great, but overall the message was weak… I had missed my calling.
It’s actually a long, interesting story, I have thought about a memoir, but here is the point:
Passion to serve God is not equal to a pastoral calling.
Learning that lesson was a dark fog. But one night, my fearful confused state finally gave way to submission. I prayed the prayer. “Who am I?” and I believe God told me “You have known since you were a boy, you are an artist”. I almost burst into song.
The look of relief on my wife’s face told me how wrong I had been.
I turned down a generous scholarship to seminary and embraced art.
Since then, my friendship with God has transformed. Now my identity as a creator activates deep fulfillment in my heart as I relate to God’s identity as THE Creator. It’s my calling, it’s fun.
God made strawberries. They are not for theology, they are for pleasure.
That's just the kind of God He is. So often Christian artists feel compelled to make art for theologians to use. Nothing wrong with that. But when the artist feels guilty creating for pleasure, something is broken.
I once enjoyed the encouragement young folks receive when pursuing pastoral ministry. It is painfully clear that such enthusiastic support is not provided to young Christian creatives. This blog fills that gap.
Brenda and I were married in 2005
I was in 6th grade, I think. Inspired by the symbol used by J.R.R. Tolkien, I created my own "stamp". My symbol is my initials J.L.F. combined. My 12-year-old logic dictated that it was best that people not confuse the F with an E.
I flipped the F backward to avoid that confusion... Everyone is confused anyhow. 12-year-old logic is funny. And, it's not like the "stamp" is make it or break it. Also, it's already on all of my art since forever. So, it's here to stay.
What is that symbol?
America's Funniest Home Videos
As Brenda and I began dating (and watching TV together) we decided to create a response to an AFV contest. Our chain reaction machine got us plane tickets to Hollywood, limos, and spending money! The other dozen or so entries have been edited out for brevity.
This is a good example of my interest in mechanical movement manifesting itself in my younger years.
I was a poor student in high school and yet I graduated as valedictorian. How? An office fire erased my GPA right before my last semester. NO - I did not start the fire. It's actually a long story.
Anyhow, a few Washington students were selected for profiles.
I don't want to publish what was written in this article because I had exaggerated about myself during the interview... then the reporter exaggerated too. (It's a little embarrassing.)
The photographer they sent apparently won several awards for this photo.
King 5 Evening Magazine
In college, I paid rent by street performing. My television production teacher happened to work at King 5 news. When he saw some of my footage he told the guys at Evening Magazine about me. Voila!
I was the first "Living Statue" in Seattle. I trained several of my friends to do it including my friend and best man at my wedding, Alex Humbert (featured with me here).
Of the friends I brought into the art only one still does this. Patrick Toney, an amazing Seattle illustrator, draws crowds today as a living statue. He has a new Instagram feed featuring his adventures as such.
Seattle International Film Festival
I created this "Stop Motion" piece as an experiment. Then I heard about the "Three Minute Masterpiece" category and entered it.
It's only 27 seconds, but I guess they didn't care.
I did get a chance to speak at SIFF about it, but that didn't get recorded, so all you get to see is the actual work.
I actually made this at my grandmothers house after dinner one night. I was so impatient with the candle that I used a blow torch to melt it down between frames.
I contributed to the Video Podcast at Gearlive.com for a long time.
This episode shows me taking a crack at a DIY borg costume at Seattle Mind Camp.
I picked it because it is one of the shows where I happened to be more a focus than in most of the others. My normal spot was behind the scenes.
The Ocean Observer
This ocean city paper did a full bio of me and featured several pictures starting on their front page. My father in law owns property at Ocean Shores so they counted me a "Member" of their community club. I was honored.
If you would like to read it, just click the images.
Why Kinetic Sculpture?
That's what I was asking myself after an exhaustive self-discovery boot camp I put myself through.
I took several personality tests, talked with my wife, visited a life coach, read three books, prayed, and talked with my friends. I knew I was an artist, but how could I specialize in one thing when I loved so many different media?
I asked myself a few questions trying to determine WHICH media I was most thoroughly fascinated by.
How do I feel when I have to take a break from the project?
1= I don't care 5=I hate it
How do I feel when I haven't spent any time in the media recently?
1= I don't care 5=I am desperate for it
Do I have many memories of seeking this media out from childhood?
1=Not really 5=Yes, many.
Has anyone told me I would be successful in this medium?
1=Maybe? 5=Enthusiasm from friends and mentors.
I scored the questions about:
20 Kinetic Sculpture (WINNER)
09 Acrylic painting
08 Video production
04 Graphic Design
10 Sand Sculpture
I was disappointed at first. Kinetic Sculpture to me was probably the most difficult medium to make a profit in. Plus it would require much more than a camera and computer or a box of paints and pencils, I would need a studio.
Then the memories came forth.
- Pulling apart RC Cars to make "Robots" when I was 10 (they sucked).
- "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" was my favorite kid movie. And the breakfast machine specifically was my favorite part of the movie.
- I watched all of Arthur Ganson's Machines online over DSL.
- My mom kept a drawing I did of a house. But only the electrical wires, water, vents, and windows were showing.
I began to look through my sketchbooks from my childhood.
I noticed that lots of my drawings focused on mechanical movement.
There was also a strong theme in my kid art about the intersection of biology and man-made objects. This pencil sharpener has been invaded by a vine.
And I actually found drawings of full-fledged biomechanical objects! This kinetic sculpture "Hermit Crab" was from 8th Grade! How far back did these ideas and desires go?
This wind-up snail was from 5th grade!
I can recognize some of the same aesthetics I enjoy today in this primitive drawing. I actually recall that I wanted to make this thing.
I wanted the shell to be made out of copper "like the statue of liberty". I had no word like "patina" back then but I had the whole thing visualized. I should probably go ahead and make this sculpture someday soon.
So THAT is how I chose this medium.
The ideas keep coming, and so far I have not run out of the fervent desire to fabricate more of them.
I used to set up shop on a couple of chairs in the living room when working on mechanical sculptures. But I set up a studio in the shed behind my in-law's house. I had immense fun buying tools and amassing supplies. I now celebrate every moment I get to create. I praise the Lord that He did not let me settle for what I thought would make money, or for being a pastor.
Art that moves...
My daughter Melody wants to do all of the things she sees us doing.
It's not unusual. That's why "TOYS R US" sells toddler sized vacuums and lawnmowers and kitchens.
It's natural for us to copy the things we see our Divine Father doing. The Bible even says that God said: "Let us make man in our likeness".
If we love to create, it's no mystery! God's fundamental identity is "Creator". We are His copycat children. Our version is simple, and ineffective compared to his creations.
I mean, if I make a dragonfly, aren't I just like a kid? I am doing a much less impressive job than my dad! Compare my art to the originals and you will see little Jesse bumbling at his plastic workbench with his plastic hammer and wooden wrench "working". I am not making living things that heal, and reproduce, and get their energy from berries and flowers.
I recently bought Melody a tiny pink rake. She wanted to stand beside me and just rake, and rake... and rake. But I felt proud, it was adorable and she obviously was enjoying the connection we had in our mutual goal of raking.
In the Classic film "Chariots of Fire" the main Character Eric Liddel explains to his fiance how one of the facets of his calling is to run fast and to win:
We each have something important to do. When we do it, we will feel His pleasure too.
Not that he is displeased with you in general, but when your actions finally fall into alignment with who you actually are, it's exciting to Him. He takes great pleasure in seeing you having fun and living your calling!
God is the ultimate kinetic sculptor. Everything he has invented is in motion. For me, that is where the connection gets really deep.
His inventions are colorful, complex, and mechanical. He uses extremely advanced technologies that we can't even imitate well. To emulate God at that fundamental level is really moving to me.
We both make art that moves.