We are created to create. In the beginning God made all things, and he created Man from the dust from the ground. We are the image-bearers of a Creator God thus we bear his image in creating in our own limited capacities.
In my mind it is an obvious extension.
Somehow, though, the creation of art has caused a lot of confusion over the years in Christian circles:
What is the place of art in the Christian life? Is art- especially the fine arts- simply a way to bring worldliness in through the back door? What about sculpture or drama, music or painting? Do these have any place in the Christian life? Shouldn’t a Christian focus his gaze steadily on “religious things” alone and forget about art and culture?…
As evangelical Christians, we have tended to relegate art to the very fringe of life. The rest of human life we feel is more important.
Despite our constant talk about the lordship of Christ, we have narrowed its scope to a very small area of reality. We have misunderstood the concept of the lordship of Christ over the whole man and the whole of the universe and have not taken to us the riches that the Bible gives us for ourselves, for our lives, and for our culture.
The lordship of Christ over the whole of life means that there are no platonic areas in Christianity, no dichotomy or hierarchy between the body and the soul. God made the body as well as the soul, and redemption is for the whole man.”
― Francis A. Schaeffer, Art & the Bible
There seems to be two extremes with Contemporary Christianity and Art making (please, know that I am speaking generally knowing outliers always fall outside of generalities). You have the “just don’t” camp, who feel art making is a waste of time and then you have the other extreme, the “sterilized and cheesy” camp, that think Christian art is something that must be scrubbed of anything that might offend. What you are left with is highly skilled but meaningless art i.e. Thomas Kinkade or efforts to tell a story through art without any teeth. We need to strike a balance, our options don’t need to be no art or bad/gimmicky art.
Yet even if we think we aren’t creating, we are creating, even in the smallest possible ways, so we all should strive towards displaying God’s glory. That doesn’t have to look like “Contemporary Christian Art” you have seen. You don’t have to be a Christian and paint only unexciting dreamy pastoral scenes or paint cheesy Christian-y scenes of a very pale Jesus touching butterflies or Jesus walking through fields of daisies. In fact, your art doesn’t even have to be “Christian” but a way of telling stories well that ultimately will show God’s glory. Because, our stories tell a gospel narrative in the realest ways, we don’t need un-authentic additions. I don’t know who is at fault for bad christian art but I do know since we are all creators regardless if we choose to be or not, let us strive toward excellence.
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. –1 Corinthians 10:31
I really want to un-pack this more in future posts and as we kind of strike a balance in our own lives with work, faith, art and family. Kenny and I have been working on creative projects pretty consistently recently and discussing art and what that looks like for us in our job, homes, in life. I would just say to sum it all up is that believe that creation was created to create. We start a home group this next week with our church that will be reading through State of the Arts by Gene Veith and I am pretty excited to dialog about art in a biblical group context. I believe it will be a good avenue to learn about how we are all creators in some form.
I have been working on Encaustic (wax and mixed media) pieces again for myself and for a few shows. I hope to get a new body of work together for a show within a year. Kenny and I both went to school for art, so it is important for us, but we don’t always set aside time for art making outside of a work environment, so it is refreshing to have a reason to make art. Also, I am trying to be a bit more intentional with photography work, which has not been updated well since my wedding work. I am excited to consider all these things as we figure out what art is to us. We aren’t the best artists, nor are we the most skilled, but good art is not about being the best at something but telling stories well. I don’t think we understand fully yet what that looks like and am excited about our Arts home group through our church Crawford Avenue so we can delve into the State of the Arts.
I can’t help but mull over all of creation and I have a desire to encourage image-bearing creators, especially in telling a narrative much bigger than our own.