LTSS Seminarian: Exhibit Highlights a Life Infused with Art

May 01, 2023

Photo Caption:
David Corrado works on an oil painting of a mermaid at a coffee shop in Columbia.

A blonde beauty wielding a power saw. A minister walking out of a phone booth, a colorful stole wrapped around his neck. A portrait of a woman embellished with pointy ears and fairy wings.

The eclectic pieces of art were part of an exhibit hosted by the Lineberger Memorial Library at Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary in April. The wide range of images on display at the Columbia, South Carolina, campus were created by second-year seminarian David Corrado. His works consisted of oil paintings on wood canvases and digital art.

For Corrado, art is something that took hold in a church basement when he was just a boy. He was eager to spend more time with his grandfather, who spent many hours working in his tailor shop. When Corrado was about ten, his grandpa was taking a watercolor class and asked the instructor if the boy could tag along. “That became our way of spending time together,” Corrado said. The art class also tapped into a passion and a talent that he honed over the years.

Corrado feels fortunate that he found mentors who made a huge impact on him. When he was 13, he joined a group of teens that painted murals in his hometown in Pennsylvania. He is still close today with the group’s organizer. “Even though our styles are very different, Jane has helped me tremendously,” he said.

When it came time for college, Corrado majored in advertising, which on the surface could seem to have been a logical choice. Yet he had a strong interesting in pursuing ministry. “I was Catholic, but I didn’t want to be a priest. I didn’t know there was an option to be a pastor that could have a family,” he said.

After earning his degree, Corrado’s employment as a graphic artist fell short of being satisfying. “After a while the work became repetitive and not something I wanted to do eight to ten hours a day,” he said. While he had discovered the Lutheran church during college and would have loved to enroll in seminary, it would be a number of years before that would happen. “Ministry wasn’t a second choice; life just got in the way,” he said.
As a seminarian, Corrado incorporates his artwork into assignments, such as a digital illustration of Dr. Kermit Moss and hip-hop culture as part of a final class project. He also has a great way to deal with the inherent pressures of grad school. I listened to [former dean] Dr. Shore’s advice to give five or six hours a week to something I enjoy.” He’s become something of an artist in residence at a few coffee shops in Columbia. Armed with his painting supplies or digital tablet, he enjoys working around other people and the inevitable interactions with other customers. During one such session he spent some time with an animator who works remotely for Nickelodeon and picked up a new technique from her.

Though he’s often asked why he hasn’t chosen to use his talent as his career, Corrado contends that he will always be an artist. He’s made two large-scale paintings that he donated to his home church, and looks to make more of these in the future. He also envisions incorporating art with the gospel as a fun way to get families involved in church. Ultimately, he sees his current education as leading to a more fulfilling vocation. “If one day I have a ministry in which I can reach out and make a difference in at least one person’s life, then that’s more important to me than putting paint on a canvas.”