AHD: How did you come to found Walk the Light?
LA: We had a friend coming in from out of town that wanted to play a show with me and wanted for me to arrange it. I began planning it with another friend, Bethany Stephens, who is Walk the Light’s co-founder. In the planning process, we realized that our friends who were going to come were all fantastic artists of various genres. So we looked around for a venue that we could plug into that would allow us to incorporate different genres into one event, but there wasn’t one. Thus, Walk the Light was born! It began with just a few friends who wanted to get together and share their art with each other and to also let their art have a charitable impact. We put on a small event for just us, and loved it so much that we decided to do it again, and again, and then four events later we realized this was bigger than us and that we needed to do some official organizing. So, we became a non-profit organization in October of 2010 and the rest is history!
AHD: What was the biggest challenge in getting things started with Walk the Light?
LA: The biggest challenge has been funding. In order to make dreams a reality, it typically takes some pretty hefty funds. Fortunately, we’ve found ways to keep operational and event costs to a minimum and have received numerous donations and sponsorships from some awesome folks.
AHD: What has been one of your favorite experiences at the Walk the Light Festivals?
LA: There is so much happening simultaneously at the Festivals, because we incorporate every art genre imaginable and then also encourage the live expression of the art. So you have dancers dancing while painters are painting and singers are singing, and all the artists begin feeding off of each other’s creative energy and so the environment is just electric. I get the privilege of watching all of this from a “birds-eye view” because I’m the coordinator, and that’s really my favorite part: taking a step back and watching everyone do what they do best.
One of my favorite moments at an event was this one time when one of our board members, Carlos Cazares, brought three of his art students to “perform” painting a collaborative piece. It was a huge 4-panel structure shaped like a cube that seemed like it was eight feet tall, and each person had 1 panel to paint. It was an incredible experience to watch the four of them pour their soul into this piece. At one point as I was watching I suddenly got very emotional and started crying; I felt so much love and peace at that moment and realized that what they were doing was actually an expression of worship and that God was smiling on what they were doing.
AHD: On the Walk the Light website, it says "That artists carry the soul of a society," and it seems to imply that art is a guiding force, can you explain this a little more?
LA: The soul is the heart, the emotions, the will; I see artists as holding this office in society, simply by the nature of what they do. Artists emote; they voice desires, loves, hates, frustrations, joys, etc. Historically, artists have been the most effective agents in society to use their work to expose injustices, to right the wrongs, to inspire the hopeless, and effect great change where it is needed. Because of this, art is an illuminating and guiding force to direct a society in the direction it ought to go. Therefore, being an artist is a great responsibility.
AHD: What in your opinion is our responsibility concerning the creative process as Christians, if we are to be the life force of society, culture, and community?
LA: In my opinion, calling yourself an artist is as heavy of a title as saying you’re a parent, or the President, because your expression on that canvas, in that song, in that dance, is going to effect change in someone’s life, for good or for bad. The burden of this responsibility doesn’t lie on the shoulders of the person watching or listening to your art; it lies with the artist who created it. You’re responsible for what message you put out there through your art and how it is perceived, just like you’re responsible for the words that you say and how they are received. As a Christian, this responsibility is even greater because of Jesus’ instructions to us as His disciples: love one another, care for widows and orphans, go out and make more disciples forgive. Just as God’s word is a light for our paths, messages like this in our art is the light for our society’s path. I think we would be letting God down if we didn’t hold the light up.
AHD: How do these responsibilities affect your own life - relationally, politically, communally, etc.?
LA: Because of this organization that I’m now apart of, I’m reminded daily about the importance of taking this responsibility seriously. It’s affected my relationships with friends the most because a majority of my friends are artists and we’re like iron sharpening iron every day. I’m surrounded by a community of people who are committed to making each other better; encouraging each other to do this and do it right. Being “socially responsible” is a catchphrase that means a lot of great things right now, but for the artist, it has always meant being a vehicle for change.
AHD: What are some of your goals and desires for Walk the Light? And what do you hope to see in the greater DFW arts community?
LA: There is so much that we dream about doing, and it’s just a matter of it being the right timing and all of the right elements being in place. We want to continue to grow at an organic pace; we aren’t in a hurry, but we do feel very compelled to keep moving forward. Our immediate goals are to get more funding, and to add more staff to help facilitate putting on the events and things we want to do.
The greater Dallas area has a very unique arts scene, and really we’re discovering that every suburb has its own flair. We’re beginning to branch out into these suburbs and do events and things out there. DFW is a very spread out metroplex, and it seems like that has caused artists in each suburb to become disconnected from other artists in other suburbs. I’d like to see DFW get linked up again and feel closer and tight-knit as an overall community because each segment has something unique to bring to the table. We suffer as a whole if we don’t have everybody’s strengths present. We’d love to see this happen; we think it’s something that our local social needs. Unity is a sign that love is present, which is such a powerful life infuser. We believe that effecting this change is one way that artists can walk their light, so we’re hoping we can be a platform for this to happen.