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An Eye for Art: Sykesville minister uses art as ‘a way to connect with my creator’

Local minister and artist Becca Crate is pictured with her installation the “Hymnal Collective” that was on exhibit at the Carroll County Arts Council in the juried show “To the Tune of…”
Local minister and artist Becca Crate is pictured with her installation the “Hymnal Collective” that was on exhibit at the Carroll County Arts Council in the juried show “To the Tune of…” (Courtesy photo)

Becca Crate is an artist and minister living in Sykesville who serves at Springfield Presbyterian Church. In elementary school, Crate remembers drawing and sketching. Her favorite things to draw have always been landscapes.

Crate grew up in New Jersey and attended Point Pleasant High School where she continued to do artwork. Crate was a member of the art club. She had the opportunity to do stained glass work while she was in high school.

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Crate decided to major in fine arts in college and attended Arcadia University outside Philadelphia. She studied graphic design.

“I liked the neatness and the organization of it,” she said. At the time, she did logos, branding, layout and design.

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While attending college, Crate ventured outside graphic design as well. She did printmaking, photography and woodworking. “Those practices influenced my graphic design. It helps you to think differently,” she said.

Crate was a graphic design intern for Homes and Land Magazine, a realty magazine. She also was an active member of the AIGA, the American Institute of Graphic Design (aiga.org), a professional association focused on all aspects of design for communication. “I got to enter other people studios and play around and be inspire,” she said.

Crate attributes her graphic design skill is an accumulation of inspiration and knowledge gained from professors and different people along the way. She received her BFA in Graphic Design.

Crate is inspired by photographer Ansel Adams. “He does amazing work. I love his use of shadow. Another one of my favorite pieces of artwork is ‘St. John on the Cross’, by Salvador Dali. It is different from what he usually does,” she said.

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Crate departed from the art scene after college. She attended Princeton Theological Seminary where she studied to become a minister.

After graduation from seminary school, Crate had the opportunity to work with the IONA community which off the southwestern coast of the Isle of Mull, Scotland in the Inner Herbrides. The Inner Herbrides are an archipelago, a chain of islands. The Iona Island where Crate lived and worked is 1.5 miles wide and 3 miles long. It is known for Iona Abby, built in 900 A.D. and is one of the oldest religious centers in Western Europe. Crate helped people prepare for worship.

“It is stunning and crisp” Crate said.

After her experience on Iona, Crate received a master’s degree with a Masters of Theology in Worship and the Arts at the University of Edinburgh. She lived in Scotland for a total of five years.

“When I was in Edinburgh, I did an art show installation using suspended paper origami cranes,” Crate said. Paper folding has its roots in China about 105 A.D. and was adopted in Japan by the sixth century. A legend says that if you fold 1,000 paper cranes your wish will come true. " I got started in origami and consider it a mindfulness or meditative practice. “You can do it without thinking, however there is a learning curve,” she said.

Crate’s first call was to be a minister was at Springfield Presbyterian Church Sykesville in 2016.

While perusing Facebook one day, Crate saw a juried show called “To the Tune of…” The show was the brain child of Moriah Tyler, the Education and Visual Arts Coordinator for the Carroll County Arts Council, that was going to be held at the Carroll County Arts Council (carrollcountyartscouncil.org). Tyler has a “Call for Artists” from time to time so that artists can submit artwork focusing on different themes. The shows attract a wide variety of quality artists that might not otherwise have a chance to show their artwork in a gallery setting in Carroll County.

Crate’s installation, titled the “Hymnal Collective,” was accepted for inclusion in the show. “An installation piece is one that you get to experience at different angles and from different sides,” she said. Her installation had 77 origami spheres made from hymnal pages that were headed for the recycle bin.

“It is origami in extreme,” crate said.” The origami flowers are small and put in together in a sphere. There are 10 flowers in a ball. The balls were hung from the ceiling and the viewer could walk under and around them, experiencing different views.

“Art is a way to connect with my creator,” Crate explained. " It is also the way to help with my emotional health. It is a way to express things you cannot express in words. I do art because I love art. If it happens to be in a show that is great. I was making hymnal pieces before the “To the Tune of…” show.

Her hymnal pieces that now are available in different colors can be purchased at www.etsy.com/shop/RevBeccaCrate. You can follow her work at @organicartsmaryland.

Crate can be contacted at springfieldpastor@gmail.com

Lyndi McNulty is the owner of Gizmo’s Art in Westminster. Her column, An Eye for Art, appears regularly in Life & Times.

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