The Sparrow’s Nest has been an Athens staple since the early 1990’s. It began as an outreach ministry of Christian Life Church, but today is an independent ministry working with several local churches.
Jamie Calkin has been an active member of the Athens community for years. Through his work, he captures the vibrant and unique atmosphere that Athens has to offer. It made sense that Jamie would be involved with the community at the Sparrow’s Nest as well. Jamie was familiar with the work that the Sparrow’s Nest does in the community and felt the need to contribute. He says the whole thing started with him thinking about ‘What do I do best?’. Thus, the Sparrow’s Nest mural project was born.
The mural project started in the spring of 2016 with the help of Reverend Jamie Scott. The six-part mural depicts the story of the prodigal son and his journey from receiving his inheritance, to blowing it all, and then to being accepted back by his family. Like most of Jamie’s work, he started by sketching some studies of what each panel will look like. The entire project took about a year. Throughout the duration of the project, Jamie would spend about two hours at the Sparrow’s Nest every other week.
“The idea was that’s how I can serve them because if I had just sat at my studio and done it, I never would have gotten it done. It helped me to be there. The best thing for me was to actually see what was going on and interact with Jamie and the other employees and volunteers. It’s an amazing place and they do great charity work. They are selfless. To me, it’s what Christians should be doing and what it’s all about.” –Jamie Calkin
There were points where the project got off track, but Reverend Jamie was there to bring it back to center. Jamie says that without him, the project could’ve taken much longer than year.
Jamie incorporated himself and Reverend Jamie into the murals by using them as inspiration for the figures depicted. He used Rev. Jamie to model the prodigal son because he felt he identified with the story, and used himself to depict the brother.
Reverend Jamie says that he loves the part of the story where the prodigal son is welcomed home by loving grace. It’s a perfect depiction of how God is all about love and acceptance.
All six parts of the mural are currently installed in the Sparrow’s Nest. Jamie believes this project to be “One of the best series I’ve ever done in terms of trying to tell a story through my art”. He also feels that this experience has taught him lessons and helped him to grow spiritually.