EXALT21: Ocean of Beauty, Glimmer of Hope


“Artists of the world, may your many different paths all lead to that infinite ocean of beauty where wonder becomes awe, exhilaration, unspeakable joy.” – Saint John Paul II, Letter to Artists

In this Q&A, we ask the four amazing women behind the works of beauty created for EXALT21 to share about their journey, from the call to its completion.


THE CALL | How were you first called to serve in EXALT21? Describe your reaction when it happened.

Nat Tan: It was after long day of work and I’d travelled to NTU for a community event — my first that semester. Ju (OYP’s Manager, I/C of EXALT21) came over and asked if I’d be willing to help out with publicity for OYP’s Catholic200SG conference in July. My internship would have ended by then, and at that point, I was wondering if I should extend my internship. But I guess I got my answer. It had been a while since I had really served and I realised there was a desire in my heart to give more of myself and my heart to God through service. So I said yes!

Nat Koh: I had received a text from Ju asking if I was open to being on the Publicity team for EXALT21. The ongoing season and semester had been a tough one––it felt like Jesus was stretching me in one too many directions. I questioned then if I had the capacity to say yes to Jesus, but remembered also that weeks before during CG I had vocalised a desire to serve Jesus more intentionally over the Summer. So I said a short prayer in trust that Jesus was calling me again to save me, and said my yes!


Stacey: In April, Ju approached me and asked if I would like to be the IC for the filming and publicity team for OYP’s Catholic200sg celebrations (at that time she didn’t tell me the name/theme of EXALT21) My first reaction was a 😬. I was hesitant and nervous to say Yes as this was something I’ve never done before. However, despite my initial fears and doubts, it was the Lord’s faithful presence and my desire to be his vessel of love that grounded me to give my Yes!


INSPIRATION | What inspired the theme of what you were working on?

Mic: I was really inspired by how simple things –  straight lines, simple shapes – in bright colours  could be so striking. The brief I got was ‘vibrant and welcoming’ and I really wanted to create a space that was exciting but also allowed the energy from everyone involved to fill it. I had a colour palette that I used throughout all the different areas but left space for Navy & Maroon for the participants wearing the EXALT21 shirts to fill! For the night setup, I wanted a cozy mood, which meant lots of fairy lights! Especially for the Adoration decor, I was inspired by the backdrop done by Isabel depicting a campfire in the mountains with Jesus, and created a ‘rock’ scene using cloth to try and bring people in the room into that backdrop with Jesus.  

The Exalt21 Poster designed by Nat

Nat Koh: I remember thinking: ‘What did I get myself into?” HAHA, because I hadn’t realised the impending responsibility of executing such a large-scale publicity rollout from start to finish. Knowing myself, my biggest creative blocks arrive when I am feeling stressed and overwhelmed! In my frenzy, though, Jesus met me. At one point I decided the only step I knew how to take was to intentionally meditate on EXALT21’s theme. No extravagant images came to mind, only the simple vision of a sunrise, an awakening, and the captivating wonder of it all. This helped me to know what to search for in refining the final colour scheme – to know that Jesus desired for freshness, life, to be communicated in our designs. 

JOYS | What was a moment in the lead up to EXALT21 that you experienced God’s love in your creative work?

Micaela’s team hard at work!

Mic: The week before EXALT21, I had the heaviest workload of my semester – including a huge assignment due. In my stress and panic at having to complete everything, I was truly blessed by everyone around me. My team really carried me and even the OYP staff helped – offering to find me a quiet space to write my essay and feeding me a lot. I felt very Loved and Held and also extremely inspired to see my team exercising their own creativity in taking charge of each project when I was occupied with schoolwork. Also, the feeling of getting to physically do the creative work after finishing my assignment was very liberating and reminded me of the Joy it brings me. 


Nat (far left) with Caitlyn (far right) at CYD 2019

Nat Tan: It was the night we were supposed to launch our workshops and a couple of testimonies on the website was incredibly stressful. The launch was set at 9.30pm, and I had a huge assignment due at 5pm — something I had been working on since June. But God sent Caitlyn, who had some experience building pages on the WordPress site we were using to help me out. Because of her (and her amazing ability to solve many of the problems that I couldn’t figure out), we got all the pages up and running! I was very moved by her act of love and her generosity, and knew that God had not abandoned me and was instead helping me through her.


STRUGGLES | What was a low point in your EXALT21 journey – how did you overcome it?

Nat Koh: My EXALT21 journey had several periods of desolation. I struggled deeply claiming my worthiness to this call. I doubted my abilities to create and lead, falling into pits of comparison with those around me who seemed to produce so much beauty and better able to serve than I.  Looking back, I can claim that while few parts of the journey were easy, Jesus was still saving me. He always gave me enough to take the next step through the people He sent my way, and I’ve grown to realise that that is more than enough. He taught me what it means to serve from a place of desolation since He is worthy of my ‘try’. Without treading through the dryness of the desert, we wouldn’t come close to knowing the life of the stream!

Stacey: One of the biggest moments of desolation was the uncertainty of constantly adjusting to new COVID-19 guidelines throughout the months we were filming. I remember feeling very frustrated and drained having to keep changing our plans due to these constraints. However, in my frustrations, Jesus reminded me that to be on mission for his kingdom means letting go and surrendering my own expectations and wants, and instead, placing my hope in who He is and the truth that He provides for our every need. In these moments of desolation, my prayer was “Lord, let your will be done.”

SHOWCASE | What was your favorite piece of creation? 

Mic: This is such a difficult question!!! If I really had to choose, it would be the entrance of the tent with the EXALT21 words. We worked really hard on it and the entire team was involved so it was really fun! The straight lines of ribbons in all the different colours, which were colours I am basically in love with (s/o to capri blue ribbon) just made me feel excited seeing it. Art is something I always struggle to describe but I think my favourite pieces are just those that make me feels things – & seeing those ribbons with the funky EXALT21 words, made me feel many things. 

The EXALT Tent’s entrance that the team worked on 😍😍😍

Nat Tan: It would probably have to be the EXALT21 banner. I had lots of fun making it and I like that I was able to use so many different colours, elements, and illustrations to represent the vibrancy and excitement I felt for EXALT21. The concept for the banner was something I chanced upon while I was in an absolute rush and frenzy to make something presentable. But I think it turned out pretty well and I’m just thankful God always helps me in these little ways when I find myself in a bind.

The Exalt 21 Banner!

Nat Koh: I really enjoyed creating the collage-style works, something that I’ve been wanting to try (collage artists are a thing ! They’re actually really cool and the works they create are so incredible). I’ve always been in awe (🤩) when I see these works online, and so decided to give it my own spin in conceptualising some of the publicity pieces. It was really enjoyable to explore this new form of creating, and in many ways, I felt free. It was almost like Jesus was teaching me to be a little girl in art class again––cutting up pieces of paper and piecing them together. 

Some of the collages that Nat loves

Stacey: Ahh it’s too difficult to pick my favourite! I love all the videos my team and I made 🙂 But, if I had to choose, I really enjoyed filming the “See a Victory” dance video. Being a dancer who only knows the moves to the chicken dance, I really enjoyed watching the love and effort that goes into another creative expression, and how God’s victory can be shown through dance. I’m proudest of this piece because it took a lot of coordination and teamwork between the dancers and the film team to get the shots, and we did it! (There’s a video of Samuel our videographer basically doing shuttle runs with the camera gimbal tracking the dancers and I just.. the dedication.)

Gif: Samuel (videographer) doing sprints across the hall!

AFFIRMATION | What was a piece of work that the other person did that blew your mind ? In one sentence, describe why it captures your gaze

Mic: I am absolutely in awe at the EXALT21 banners – both day (Nat Tan)  and night (Isabel Tan). When I first received Nat’s piece I was lost for words at the beauty and the amount of detail – everywhere I looked there was something interesting and cute, and also very cleverly on theme with the little easter eggs of EXALT21 merchandize. Isabel’s night time banner blew me away with how comforting it was and so incredibly beautiful with the nighttime scenery and campfire with Jesus.

The vigil set up 🥺

Nat Tan: Everything that Nat Koh’s magnificent hand touches is beautiful. She came up with the collage theme for the Instagram posts (and all the thumbnails and etc.) and it really has blessed my eyes. I was also super impressed by all the videos that were shown during EXALT21, especially the skit. It was so professionally done, everything — from the story, to the cinematography, to the editing — was excellent. My favourite publicity video was the one with the two elderly priests; it kept me smiling throughout. And not to mention the OYP grounds that were so beautifully decorated, especially during the evangelistic night. I also loved the LED banner that was shown during the adoration vigil.

The video which we all LOVE. Watch it HERE.

Nat Koh: IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO CHOOSE ONLY ONE 😭😭😭 Throughout the EXALT21 journey, through good days and bad, I never stopped being in absolute awe of everyone’s gifts and how generous they were in sharing them. Seeing Nat Tan scramble over the website and the effort put into it blew my mind. Everything was so beautifully planned and designed; brought to life from nothing. Sitting on the grounds of OYP, I’m pretty positive that my jaw physically dropped as I was immersed in the videos that Stace and her team filmed. OYP was so beautifully decorated, and the adoration vigil backdrop + decor made me feel like I was in a dream! 

Stacey: I am blown away by all the video thumbnails in the EXALT21 brushfire website that the publicity team designed! When I am on the website and re-watching the main programme live-streams or choosing which pre-recorded workshops to view, the video thumbnails always pull me in. The design of each thumbnail really captures the essence of what the workshop/video is about in such a captivating and beautiful way. I always end up clicking all the thumbnails and watching every video that I opened. 

THANK YOUS | Who are the people that you are most thankful for as you look back at the whole journey?

Mic: The hugest shoutout to my deCORE (see what i did there)  team – Gabriella Spykerman, Marcella Chua, Ryan Tay, Isabel Tan. They are the true champs, coming down whenever they could, even till late at night, getting sweaty and extremely sunburnt, conquering heights (2m ladder), & potentially loss of eyesight (tying fishing line for the letters of EXALT21). Throughout this journey, they have been pillars of strength and always inspire me with their own ideas and talents. Also, a big thank you to Sharon from OYP staff who was ever ready and so resourceful!! I am extremely grateful for all the encouragement and support. And shoutout to the Holy Spirit for leading, guiding, and giving me this gift of creativity. 

Nat Tan: I’m incredibly thankful to Caitlyn Ang, for really coming in and saving the day when I was in desperate need of help. For my website team — Amanda Tan, Gabriella Spykerman, Elizabeth Tang, Alyssa Goh, Julian Lowe, Jamie Lin, Sarah Phua, Michelle Yong, Genevieve Especkerman, Andrea Chong and Magdalene Yip — thank you for putting so much heart and love into all that you did. Big thanks also to Bryan Kow for helping out with the testimony pictures, and all the people who came down for the testimony photoshoot. And of course, to Nat Koh, Francine, Stacey and Amanda Choo for all the love and support during the journey, thank you for being the face of Christ to me!

Nat Koh: I’m very thankful to the publicity team, most of whom Nat Tan has already named. Thank you specially to Michelle Yong, Sam Fuentes, Amanda Tan, and Sarah Phua for so readily helping with the various Instagram content (I couldn’t have done any of them without you). Thank you for going out of your way to bring EXALT21 to others before it even began. With all my heart, I am immensely grateful for the publicity core team––Nat Tan, Choo, Stace, and Fran, thank you for riding these waves with me and for showing me what it means to live a life for Christ. Finally, my man J, praise You for your providence and faithfulness. Thank You for choosing me in my smallness, and for telling me that I am enough for You.

Stacey: Looking back on the filming journey of EXALT21, I am most thankful for all the different friends I made along the way who sacrificed so much and gave of themselves for the various videos. I am especially thankful for Eunice and Amanda, who came on board with me from the beginning and helped lead the team in the many different aspects. I am also very grateful for our videographers Izaac, Samuel and Jimson and their creative visions, as well as Shaun, Deidre, Bryan, Beatrice and Rachel who took care of our welfare and made sure we were never filming on empty stomachs. I am also grateful for Beatrice and Rachel who helped create the look of all the rooms, props and characters of the short film.


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