By Kristine Whitnable

Urbana 06 Challenges WMU Art Student

Bette Lau is completing her education as an art student at Western Michigan University (WMU). She attended Urbana 06 where the Lord gave her a burden for people suffering from the AIDS epidemic in Africa. As she thought about the horror of their suffering, she was moved to prayer. Though she felt hopeless in light of the many problems created by the epidemic, Bette wanted to do something more.

As she prayed, she thought of organizing an art exhibit centered on the theme of AIDS awareness. Bette saw two good outcomes of the exhibit: viewers would become less complacent towards the plight of people with AIDS and funds would be raised for those suffering in Africa.

However, the idea of actually getting an art exhibit together seemed like a dream to Bette. In December 2007, a year after Urbana 06, the Lord reminded her of an art exhibit and challenged her to act. At first she was overwhelmed, and then she remembered what a fellow Christian artist had said, “Sometimes God calls us to something bigger than ourselves, and we just have to throw ourselves into it and see what he’ll do.”

So she prayed, “Lord, this is yours. And if you want to do something about this exhibit–then do it, and I am privileged to be your vessel.” Bette began the project by presenting the idea to students in art classes at Western Michigan University, and asking them to create a piece for the exhibit. To her surprise at least forty people indicated that they would contribute artwork for the show.

Now Bette needed a place to hold the show. She had been told that Henderson Castle, a local bed and breakfast, often held art exhibits. When she contacted them, they were excited to do something that included a social awareness element. The exhibit was set for April 4, 2008 and would be advertised in the local arts flyer.

As Bette thought about the exhibit, she had another concern, her fellow art students. They are often taught to compete against one another and use their art to get ahead in the world. Bette hoped that this show would create a sense of community among the artists as they worked together towards the vision of helping AIDS victims in Africa. She wanted the art students to have an opportunity to use their art for the benefit of others and to create social change. She soon saw evidence of this change of heart with many students being willing to help with the set up and logistics of the show.

In addition, professors in the WMU art department have been supportive of Bette’s efforts. One of them even assigned his students to do a piece that fit with the theme of the exhibit for a class assignment. Bette also had opportunity to share the gospel with her peers and professors. When they asked her “Why are you doing this?” Bette was able to boldly tell them, “I am motivated by the love of Christ and the call he has put on my heart to care for his people.”

At Urbana 06, Bette was given a burden for AIDS patients and the idea of an art exhibit. Through her obedience, the compassion of God is spread further through the power of art, the power to change and influence peoples attitudes and actions. When people came to this show, Bette hoped their eyes would be opened to some of the suffering in the world around them, and that they would be moved to do something about what they see.

Bette Lau, in her own words, at
Local coverage – Kalamazoo Gazette
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