Religion, Spirituality and the Arts: David Landis – Firefighter and Sculptor
By: Seth Johnson
Art has always been on the mind of David Landis. From his time studying at Taylor University years ago to today, the kinetic sculptor’s inventive urges have remained constant. Nevertheless, it hasn’t been until recent years that the 24-year veteran of the Indianapolis Fire Department (IFD) has truly brought his creative concepts to life.
“There’s lot of wonderful ideas when you’re just talking about ideas, but to actually bring those to fruition was a challenge for me,” he recollects. “I realized at some point over the last four or five years that I was more afraid of doing that than I was to walk into a burning building.”
After coming to this conclusion, Landis decided it was time for a change, choosing to work as a full-time kinetic sculptor instead, while still remaining a part-time firefighter. He reflects, “With a lot of persistent support and encouragement from a lot of friends, a lot of artists that I hung out with and my wife, I eventually gathered the courage and have been growing and developing as a person and beginning to live the life that I had only dreamt of before.” In continuing down this path, a recent source of inspiration has come from his participation in the Religion, Spirituality, and the Arts (RSA) Seminar he took part in earlier this year.
Sponsored by Butler University Center for Faith and Vocation in partnership with Christian Theological Seminary, the seminar’s first installment brought twelve artists and five faculty members together this past spring to study the story of the Binding of Isaac (from Genesis 22). Through a series of discussions, the group explored the diverse ways the story has been expressed through religious interpretation, poetry, music and the visual arts.
After learning of the seminar, Landis was intrigued. He remembers, “I saw it as an opportunity to meet other artists, I saw it as an opportunity to be challenged spiritually and then I saw it as an opportunity to be challenged as an artist.” He would undoubtedly experience all of this and more during the course of the program.
“I would absolutely recommend it to any artist that is willing to challenge themselves—to put themselves in an environment to learn, to see things in a different way and to step out of what they’re normal pattern of being is,” he says.
And although the seminar ended months ago, the group of artists has continued to meet on their own, thanks to the enriching bonds they were able to develop through the RSA program.
“I think we’ve gained a relationship and gone through an experience that we didn’t want to walk away from because it was so valuable, and we continue to learn and encourage and support each other as artists and as spiritual beings,” he says.