Artists sweltered as they sat painting in the Kansas City summer heat. They had gathered for Art in the Park with Genesis 1-1 Fine Art, and the heat bore down. The forecast predicted no respite—no wind, no clouds, just sun.
In the beginning, God called Julia and Bill Otterness into creating an art ministry that reflected God’s heart as creator. At every step of their journey, they have seen God surpass their expectations by miraculously providing for their ministry. That day in the park was no exception.
“We need clouds,” Julia thought. She and the artists started praying for clouds and painting them into their artwork. As they prayed and painted, clouds popped up, seemingly from nowhere. The rest of the day, the sky remained cloudy and overcast.
“It was awesome,” Julia later told Faith Horizons. “There was nothing magical about our painting, but it was just the act of intercession.”
Genesis 1-1 Fine Art encourages Christian artists to share the inspiration behind their work and use art to point people to the Creator. The nonprofit holds workshops, artist talks, and gallery events. Once a month, they host open studios where artists gather and work on their individual projects.
When Bill and Julia started Genesis 1-1 eight years ago, they had no idea of the impact it would have. But as they stepped out in obedience, they saw God’s abundance.
Multiplying Loaves and Fishes
One example of God surpassing their expectations came through a gallery event they hosted. They gathered artists and hosted a community gala—complete with dinner, live music, and, of course, art. The first time they held the event, Julia hoped to get four or five artists to present their artwork.
“We just prayed,” Julia said, “and God brought twenty local artists together from nearby areas. It was incredible.”
With the first gallery event so successful, they continued it subsequent years. At the most recent event, complications arose with their food providers.
“There was no food,” Bill told Faith Horizons. “We all gathered around and prayed. I said to the chef, ‘Don’t worry about this. Just use what you have.’”
Bill recalled bustling around the venue the day of the event, coordinating volunteers, and making sure everything was in place. “I went back in the kitchen, and it was completely packed full of food” Bill told Faith Horizons. “Food was piled on top, in carts, and in the hallways. I was like, ‘Where’d all this food come from?’ We don’t know. People snuck in and dropped off food.”
As Bill and Julia continually saw God provide for their ministry, that provision encouraged them to keep taking bolder steps of faith.
Impact Across the World
Genesis 1-1 Fine Art’s ministry has continued to grow, both in Kansas City and abroad. Years ago, the assistant librarian at MidAmerica Nazarene University in Olathe, Kan., contacted Genesis 1-1 and asked them to display some of their art in the university. They did, and they also hosted artist talks, which inspired the university to follow suit.
“Now [MidAmerica Nazarene University] has formatted their artist talks the same way that we do them,” Julia told Faith Horizons.
Genesis 1-1’s impact has spread beyond Kansas City. Genesis 1-1 Fine Art has held workshops in an orphanage in Mexico and even in Antigua in the Caribbean. On their next adventure, they plan to conduct workshops for schools in Zambia.
As Genesis 1-1’s impact has spread farther than Bill and Julia ever dreamed, they credit the Lord for its growth.
“If the Lord gives you something in your imagination and you move forward on it, it’s going to happen,” Julia told Faith Horizons. “If it’s from the Lord, he’s going to do exceedingly, abundantly above all you can ask or imagine.”
Julia sees imagination as a key component in following God. Every idea first comes as a dream. The key is acting on it.
“You can sit around and daydream and never do anything about it,” Julia said. “But if you just take a step and start moving toward that daydream, it becomes something. That’s co-creating with God.”
To read more about the ministry and to find out how to join an Open Studio event, visit https://www.genesis1-1art.org.