The Semaphore Fellowship is a not-for-profit, international consortium of Christian visual artists who are committed to honouring visual languages as a sacred trust given by Jesus, the original Artist,  for truthful communications about what we know, what we see and who we love in both spiritual and cultural community. Flagship is our cooperative gallery home in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. For these reasons we have chosen to affirm three core ideas:

Artistic expressions (and the artists who practice them) are fundamental to the experience of being fully human in God’s created order. Perception, imagination and being creative are what we have been designed to be in our homes, our workplaces, our churches and our cultures in general. Artists are called to celebrate beauty of creation, and to protest how that creation has been corrupted and abused. Sometimes it means cradling the wounded hearts that come from that and giving them a voice. But whatever the artist is called to, it is fundamentally to be an imaginative truth teller. We believe artistic expression is capable of encoding this on many, often integrated levels; rational, sensual and relational.

Styles of artistic expression (and the artists who have developed them) have historically been in a constant state of evolution, revolution, and various states of patronage or poverty. They have always reflected the state of the world and the belief systems of the culture around them. What they all have in common is that they are languages with discernible design and technical vocabulary, grammar and nuanced meanings. They are far more than simply experiences governed only by subjective interpretation. We see artists as linguists, made in God’s image as creators, and treasured by God in that calling, as guardians of these languages.

Artistic languages do not exist in a vacuum, disconnected from communal influences. All artists and their languages are shaped by family histories, genetic threads, geographical and cultural influences, education and belief systems. Total artistic autonomy and independence is a myth. And the other side of the coin is that everything we create touches, influences and changes the culture around us. If we consider how artists are constantly speaking from the depths of their own person, whether they admit it or not, it is in understanding each other’s language and intent that we are connected to everyone around us. . We believe we are both essential to Christian community, and dependent upon that community for spiritual guidance and flowering, both as artists and as persons. We are also very fortunate to be seated in the heart of a multicultural street, here on James North, and part of the gallery, studio and café nerve center of Hamilton, Ontario.

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Semaphore, (n) or (vb), sem-a-for, 1816: A code for signaling vital information with two hand-held flags, red and white on the diagonal, by varying the positions  of one’s arms.