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Art encompasses so many aspects of the human experience and is meant to be experienced, not just viewed. Symbols in art are not a dogmatic end to a discussion; they are an opportunity to reimagine and rethink. ICON: Artistic Expression Spiritual Experience will present a creative performance space designed for artists to share their gifts and engage with the community in a conversation about life and faith. The live performances exploring the symbol of the cross will present original work, including comedy, music, poetry reading, and painting at The Arts Factory on Oct. 7.

Oliver Jones and Para Daux will bring humor with sketch comedy about how people naturally make their bodies into a cross all the time. Jones was born and raised in Las Vegas and a graduate of Palo Verde High School, where he won the senior award for most artistic, best actor in a bit part and best actor in a leading role. Jones also competed in the International Thespian Festival presenting his monologues. After graduation, he coached high school improv for three years. Jones became an ensemble member of the Insurgo Theater Movement and a member of the resident theatre company at the Plaza Hotel. He is an award-winning playwright for When Mom Died on Saturn. Jones continues to produce, direct, and act in his plays, and recently joined the nonprofit Ants in the Pants.

Demetria R. Giles is a poet, writer, school leader, mother, New York City marathoner, triathlete and native Virginian, who is currently living and learning in downtown Las Vegas. In 2016, she published a chapbook of poetry, D'Rose Writings: The First Collection. Giles was raised in the Black Baptist Church and loves listening to "Lily in the Valley." As she says, "Jesus is my revolutionary muse, and God is my homeboy."

Joshua Luna is the current worship leader at Downtown Faith. He's been playing music for churches for eight years and is a songwriter including "Mars Luna," a "Space Alien Singer," and "Cosmic Prince" from the Sixth Dimension. Luna will share his gift of music on stage with a song that resonates with icons.

Don Michael, Jr. is an artist living and working in the Las Vegas area. He has always known he was going to be an artist since he was 4 years old. As he explained, "Adults found that the best way to keep me out of trouble was to give me something to create with, and I would be a good boy for hours." That still continues to this day, as his family can attest.

"Anything with Christian symbolism, I love to explore more deeply what these ICONS and symbols mean. I like to open it up, why does it mean that, and what does it mean to me?" says Michael. "I have been using Christian symbolism in my art for most of my adult life. This fits with where I am right now with my art. I want to focus on different icons, what they mean to me, what they mean to others, and understand why they carry those meanings."

After getting his Bachelor of Arts at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma, Michael started working as a graphic designer in television, and eventually became an art director. Michael worked in this career in Oklahoma City, Norfolk, Virginia, and Las Vegas. He has been recognized with several industry awards, including an Emmy award.

While working as a graphic designer by day, Michael continued to pursue his passion for fine art. His hard work and dedication paid off with many of his works submitted into juried national exhibitions and publications, often garnering awards. He changed careers and now is focused as a painter working in acrylics.

Pastor Jeremy Martin of Downtown Faith will share a message but will not preach. "The cross is a symbol that will divide our thinking, but it doesn't have to stop our discussion."

ICON: Artistic Expression Spiritual Experience will be presented in The Arts Factory, 107 E. Charleston Blvd., Unit 246 at 8 p.m. on Oct. 7. The event is free and open to the public. Click here for more info.

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From This Author Debbie Hall