Leave hopelessly inspired, re-awakened to wonder at The Breath & The Clay
By: Terry Rader
Stephen Roach, the founder of The Breath & the Clay (TBTC), is happy to announce the fifth annual TBTC ticketed event on March 22-24, located at 7840 North Point Blvd., Winston-Salem. The Breath & the Clay event is a creative arts gathering that explores the intersections of art, faith and culture. It is comprised of a curated art gallery, keynote talks, performances, a live podcast and a time of collective worship.
Roach said the event begins on Thursday, March 21, at 7 p.m. with a pre-event Prayer & Worship hosted by Burn 24/7 and this night is free and open to the public.
On both Friday and Saturday nights, the café and gallery open at 5 p.m. to the public, free of charge for the Gallery Crawl from 7-9 p.m. with coffee roasters. Ned Bustard, of Christians in the Visual Arts (CIVA), will jury this pop-up weekend gallery. Bustard is the curator of Square Halo Gallery, a children’s book illustrator, an author and printmaker.
On March 22, registration opens at 5 p.m., and the ticketed event continues with various artists. Roach said that the 1 p.m. Creative Community Luncheon is sold out. Collective Worship begins at 7 p.m. featuring Molly Skaggs, singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist; Aaron Strumpel, singer-songwriter; Kierre Bjorn, international worship leader, songwriter; and the Chadash Dance Company.
Keynote speakers follow at 8 p.m. on Friday and will be emceed by Luke Hambrecht, pastor and story brand guide. Speakers include Stephen Roach, multi-instrumentalist, songwriter; public-speaker and poet Amena Brown; author, spoken-word poet, speaker and event host, Emily P. Freeman; Wall Street Journal best-selling author CJ Casciotta; Vesper Stamper, Golden Kite award-winning author and illustrator; Ray Hughes, storyteller, poet and artist; and Justina Stevens, visual artist and art director for Cageless Birds Collective.
On March 23, various speakers will lead up to the concert. He said that tickets for Saturday night’s concert might be purchased for $35 for those not attending the entire weekend event. Concert performances begin at 7 p.m. with John Mark McMillan, artist and platinum-selling songwriter followed by Josh Garrels, singer-songwriter at 8 p.m. Roach said the concert would be followed by an after-party ticketed event ($30 for ages 21 and up) at 9:30 p. m. at Footnote Coffee & Cocktails for drinks, music and conversations.
Roach’s cinematic-folk band, Songs of Water, has written and recorded six albums and contributed music to independent films and commercials as well as the works of recording artists Ricky Skaggs, Jonathan David Helser, John Mark McMillan and many others. Roach travels internationally, performing and conducting workshops and keynotes on creativity and the pursuit of God.
In 2014, Roach said that he shared with his friend, Matt Peterson his dream of creating an environment to explore how art and faith complement one another and work together. Peterson, the pastor of Awake Church in Winston-Salem, asked Roach, “Why don’t you host an event at our church?” Several months later they hosted the first TBTC gathering, and Roach said he was shocked that around 100 people showed up. Due to the email requests, they are now in their fifth year and are anticipating about 500 attendees for this year’s event. Awake Church continues to help host this event. Roach said that many of the artists travel from other parts of the world, so rehearsal time is limited. They do a lot of preliminary work, exchanging ideas back and forth remotely and then spend the week before tightening it all up. He encourages people to connect and submit their works for upcoming events.
Roach said they had never intended it to be a yearly event. It started as a community of friends who got together around retreats and events. Many of the presenters are people he’s met in his travels, or they are people whose work he resonates with, and he invites them to participate. Makers & Mystics – The Official Podcast of the Breath & the Clay keeps the conversation going throughout the year and has grown to have 13,000 subscribers with a five-star rating on iTunes. Roach said he was surprised to see what a hunger there is in people to talk about what they are doing as artists in exploring the intersections of art, spirituality and culture.
“I’ve always had this sense that there is something inherently spiritual about art,” Roach said. “Nothing touches the deep places within us quite like a song or a poem or a beautiful performance. Over the years I have come to believe that healthy spirituality leads to creativity…and points beyond itself to a larger conversation.”
Roach said that for the future, he envisions a four to five-day event stretched over four city blocks in multiple locations to include a poetry slam, a film showing, a song sharing forum or social justice and arts discussion held in another.
“We would really like to contribute to Winston-Salem’s identity as the City of Arts and Innovation and then grow the local chapter to other places.”
TERRY RADER is a freelance writer, storyteller, poet, singer/songwriter, wellness herbalist and owner, Paws n’ Peace o’ Mind cat/dog/house sitting
Mar 22-24 The Breath & The Clay 2019 event, 7840 North Point Blvd., Winston-Salem, 336-712-4008, $150 general admission for the full weekend, firstname.lastname@example.org for group rates, student discounts. Poetry & Writing workshop with Stephen Roach and Ray Hughes +$25, After Party +$30 at Footnotes Coffee & Cocktails, 634 W. 4th St., Suite 120, Winston-Salem, tickets at the door or online. Sat. 7-9 p.m., performances with John Mark McMillan and Josh Garrels, $35 concert fee for non-event attendees.