Henna workshops teach students to use artform as witnessing tool

Kathleen Hartsfield, sophomore public relations major, designs henna art during a sunny Saturday afternoon in the Hope quads. | Photo by Anne Richoux

By Ming Tay, Online Visual Editor

Cone-shaped tubes filled with heavily-scented paste could be seen scattered on quilted blankets and pillows April 28 in the warm sunshine outside the Hope Residence Complex.

Students using the materials that day learned the art of henna, which involves drawing on the hands and feet.

Keely Hart, assistant for student mobilization in the Office of Spiritual Life, introduced henna art to a group of students, specifically teaching them how using the technique enables them to depict the Gospel through art.

“It was only meant to be a one-time event,” Hart said.

She added an additional gathering because many who wanted to attend the first one either missed it or wanted to attend again.

“I just remember sitting in my room and everyone is sharing about what God has been teaching them that semester and things they have been learning and gone through,” Hart said.

Hart said those discussions reminded her of her time spent in Botswana, where women sit around all afternoon talking and braiding one another’s hair.

“What a sweet discipline that is so common in other cultures, just to stop and be with each other, talk to one another and share life together,” Hart said.

In preparation for the event, Hart printed henna designs and story sets from the International Mission Board’s website that would help the girls illustrate the Gospel.

One of the designs used during the event is called “Creation to Christ.” This design depicts the beginning of creation all the way to the return of Christ.

Molly King, sophomore sociology major, said most people in America think people can only share the Gospel using one or two methods. King said using henna creates a new witnessing method many would not consider otherwise.

“I think it’s cool that we have this opportunity to look at other ways to share the Gospel,” King said.

Hart said she wanted to use the event to encourage students to think about what things they are doing to proclaim the Gospel to others.

Hart said she wanted students to think about what they love to do and what has been done in the world around them.

“How can these things be redeemed to proclaim the Gospel and how can I enter in a culture and proclaim the Gospel through mediums of art and through mediums of storytelling — things that are already part of the culture — and do them in a way that is Gospel- centered?” Hart said.

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The Cardinal & Cream is a student publication of Union University in Jackson, Tennessee. Our staff ranges from freshmen to seniors and includes a variety of majors — including journalism, public relations, advertising, marketing, digital media studies, graphic design and art majors.