Called to worship is a segment on my blog that highlights the lives and ministries of worship leaders who are making an impact in Kenya, Africa and beyond. The idea is to interact with worship leaders whose faith and stories inspire us to be better ministers. Here is my interview with David Maina on- Hiding God’s word in art.

hidinggodswordbanner_david_mainaIn Exodus 31, God commissions Bezalel, Oholiab and other craftsmen to make articles for His worship. “…I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability and knowledge in all kinds of crafts, to make artistic designs…” {Exodus 31:2-11}

When I first saw David’s work, this scripture came to mind. His art is fresh, exciting, and some have even described it as experimental or art nouveau. Whatever name we may choose, it is undeniable that it is inspired of God. He has not only chosen to hide God’s word in his heart {Psalm 119:11}, he also hides it in his art!

In addition to drawing, David is a worship minister at Nairobi Chapel South, where he plays piano in a band called Dira. Here is my interview with David- artist extraordinaire.

Nita: When did you discover your gift in drawing?

I am a creative being; all I do is from a creative space. Drawing has always been innate. I do not have any formal training in art. It is all self-taught. I was one of those kids who would colour between the lines and try to trace pictures. I grew up knowing that I could draw, even getting into trouble for it. I remember teachers saying “This boy of yours will fail the exams because he draws more than he reads.” In class I would always doodle even when the teachers were teaching.

Nita: Did it ever occur to you that this is what you would do for a living?

It was only later in university that I imagined making a living off my art. At the university, I did Information Systems Technology. Employment was not for me and so after trying it out for three months, I decided to pursue art.

Growing up in Africa, you are mostly told that it is only formal jobs that are viable. However, when I did my first show in New York in 2013, it hit me that I can do this for a living. A family friend who worked in an organization called World Youth Alliance told me about an art forum. She requested me to apply and send in some of my art. I did, and was selected to be one of the artists. It was an interesting experience.

david_maina_art_2Nita: What is your process like when doing a piece?

My art has a lot of hidden messages and line patterns. I like to get a specific theme and then look through the bible for messages that stand out then fuse it in the art. The verses do not necessarily have to be very deep. I look for scripture that is easy to relate to but still conveys a strong message. The whole point is to take the scripture to places the bible can’t go, that’s why the hidden theme. The scripture is not in your face, but when you look keenly you are able to see that God is speaking to you. When I get the verse, I try to express it creatively with drawing, such that the verse and the drawing are one. The hard part is usually the idea.

david_maina_art_5Nita: Do people usually spot the messages?

Yeah yeah…especially the first time when I used to be at Dust Depot art studio there was a young girl who noticed the words. Interestingly, the owner of the space had never seen the words. When the little girl motioned to the words in the drawing he said “yeah, there are words!” This reception kept me going. People perceive art the way they want to, and until you tell them that there is something in the art, they may never see it. There are many reactions to the art, but when people see the words, they are interested in finding out why. In a previous exhibition, I did a drawing with the message of love from 1st Corinthians. That sparked a conversation with a lady who saw the piece. I was able to engage her about the true meaning of love vis-a-vis what is portrayed in the media.


David was kind enough to draw this piece for Can you spot the message? The first 3 people to comment with the answer will get a gift.

Nita: When did you start playing piano?

Piano is an acquired taste. It was a skill I picked up along the way and it stuck. My parents love music a lot, so growing up, my siblings and I all did piano classes. Later on, I met with individuals who were good at playing and the passion continued to grow. Piano for me, was therefore not an innate gift.

Nita: As a pianist what would you say worship is?

Worship is everything you do. You can use music or art to worship God, giving your best and expressing yourself the best way you know how. When it comes to doing my art I ask, “How can I best show how God is amazing through this?”… “How can I keep improving so that people can enter into the zone of worshipping God?”

david_maina_art_4Nita: Any advice for upcoming artists?

Have a plan. The art world is the most uncertain profession; it is very unpredictable. Don’t do what others are doing. Find your own niche, despite the fact that it may take long for people to appreciate it. Having that individuality makes the art world more vibrant. Find a space where you can mingle with other artists. I have gone the alone route and worked with other artists as well. The latter is better because it opens up networks to you.

What is on your playlist now?

Andy Mineo, Newsboys, intrumentals

What books are you reading?

Inspirational online articles

To purchase David’s art, leave a comment in the comment section below, and I will send you his details.