This summer I had the pleasure of traveling to Florence, Italy and meeting some members of the Gallery4 team. When people say the world is small, it’s no joke; I met Paul and Melinda Hand (Gallery4 Florence team leaders) at a friend’s wedding in Mississippi last January and we were able to reconnect in Florence where they now live with Jenny, one of the Gallery4 dancers. Jenny and I spent time together eating gelato, picking wild blackberries, cooking pasta and exploring the streets of Florence and Cinque Terre. After four days I felt as though I’d known her and the other team members my whole life. Jenny truly meshes her faith and dancing together to create beautiful and meaningful art that I know will have a beautiful impact on the people of Florence.
I interviewed Jenny about her experiences so far.
What is Gallery4 and how do the arts play a major role in your mission?
Gallery 4 is a ministry that uses dance, art, and music to share the Good News of Jesus Christ. Through classes, performances, and exhibitions we build friendships and point people to the original Artist, our Creator God.
How do you feel that dance specifically can bring an awakening to the hearts and minds of your audience/viewer?
Dance is a unique tool in that it utilizes both visual movement and music. It requires a certain vulnerability and grace, and has the ability to stir something in people that sometimes words cannot. And here I am trying to explain it in words!
As you share movement with a greater purpose, what has been one of the most rewarding things you’ve experienced.
Transfer of focus from self to the Lord! Suddenly the pressure of perfectionism that can be the world of dance becomes joy and freedom in movement. People can tell the difference, and when someone comments that there was something different about my performance, I can point them to the Lord.
Italy! What a beautiful place to be! Just in your daily life, what have been some things you’ve had to adapt to or learn culturally?
Yes it is! Learning a new language, and then learning to operate in said language can be fun and challenging. Also, everything moves at such a casual pace. It’s been both frustrating and good to have to slow down, have patience but also enjoy the good little gifts of life.
What is your vision for Gallery4?
First and foremost, for the Lord to be glorified and for the Gospel to be advanced. Practically, for the gallery to be a thriving community of art that people are drawn to, to want to hang out and learn how to dance, play an instrument, and be discipled in the way of Jesus!
How can we support, help or get involved?
The team here, myself included, operate entirely on the generosity of supporters. We are always looking for more people to come on our financial support and prayer team! And if you personally are excellent in some art form, interested in coming to Italy, and are passionate about Jesus, we would love to talk to you and see if you would be a good match for our team here, short or long term!