Leaf Institute offers learning opportunities downtown


Hannah Anderson and Erin Straza record a podcast during a workshop at the Leaf Institute. Photo: Kayla Jacobs

The new downtown Greenville enterprise opened by BJU alumni, the Leaf Institute of Art & Vocation, offers classes and events that focus on art, faith and work.

Brannon McAllister, Michelle Radford and Ian Cook opened the institute this past July and started offering art classes from beginning drawing to portrait drawing.  These courses are available to individuals of all different skill levels. Besides art classes, the institute hosts vocational events like the Praxis Course, which meets every Friday at 7:45 a.m. 

The course consists of a short video lecture followed by discussion. 

So far, the class has drawn a crowd of 20 to 25 people every week.  The institute has run the six-week Praxis series twice since its start and is currently working through a four-week continuation of the series. 

Michelle Radford, co-founder of the Leaf Institute and a BJU faculty member in the Division of Art and Design, said, “We’re talking about how to use startups and entrepreneurship in a redemptive way in the world—in a way that restores people primarily.” 

The course studies topics such as the struggles of entrepreneurship, what true success is and how to flourish with authority and vulnerability.  The institute also wants to have a new high-quality art show every other month. 

On Wednesday, Nov. 14, the institute hosted an opening reception for an art show by BJU graduate Chris Koelle.  His works will be on display from Nov. 14  until Jan. 14 and will be available for purchase. 

The institute deals with more than just the visual arts, drawing in musicians and authors as well. 

In mid-October, Jonas Davison, a producer with Community Arts Tokyo, spoke about the beauty of God in a session titled “Beauty Will Save the World.” 

Sandra McCracken, a founding member of Indelible Grace Music and author for The Gospel Coalition and Christianity Today, will perform a concert of acoustic hymns and songs on Sunday, Dec. 9.  

Hannah Anderson, a BJU grad and well-known author of the book Humble Roots: How Humility Grounds and Nourishes Your Soul, and Erin Straza, managing editor for the digital magazine Christ and Pop Culture and author of the book Comfort Detox: Finding Freedom from Habits that Bind You, also came to the Leaf Institute for the Word+Craft weekend, which was held Friday, Nov. 9, and Saturday, Nov. 10. 

During the Word+Craft weekend, they explored the fundamentals of communication, helped attendees craft a philosophy of writing, discover the importance of their message and even produced a live edition of their podcast called “Persuasion.”

To learn more about the institute, visit their website, leafinstitutegreenville.org, or follow them on Instagram @leafinstitute to stay up to date with upcoming events.