Much of my life I’ve been on a quest to find visual artists that I am challenged by and who inspire me in my own work. I’ve found this quest mostly disappointing, though there are a small handful of individuals both present and in the past that fit this bill, they are few and far between. There are several reasons for this deficiency.
The first reason is, I have failed to open my eyes beyond a certain parameter. Ashamedly I have disregarded artists whose work at first glance didn’t capture me immediately, therefore eliminating whole segments of artwork worthy of a second look. When I’ve opened my eyes and truly looked at these works, pausing even for a moment to chew on (instead of just tasting) the expressions, impressions, choices, colors and thoughts conveyed in these pieces, I am moved by the glimpse they give me of the person who created them. Every artwork says something about its creator, which directly reflects the creative nature of the God I serve.
The second reason is as far as artists who are Christian and do work worthy of their calling, there just aren’t that many. I know this is a broad generalization, I realize this, but it unfortunately directly relates to the role the church has played in stepping away in horror from the arts as a whole. I want to do the best work I can for His glory alone, everything else, including ideals of what Christian art should be is irrelevant.
The last reason is that I haven’t looked hard enough. Been busy moving around, working, raising kids and keeping up with my crazy husband.
Excuses aside, the good news is that Eddy got me a two books for Christmas that have changed this fruitless search into a delightful journey. The first is called, Art and the Christian Mind: The Life and Work of H.R.R. Rookmaaker, by Laurel Gasque. This book opened my eyes to a world that has existed all along, but I was completely unaware of. He was an art historian who teamed with Francis Schaeffer to start L’abri.
They saw a great chasm forming between the church and the culture that went against everything that Jesus lived and died for. He influenced countless artist, of whom I am finally discovering, and what a wellspring it is! The second book is called, Imagine: A Vision for Christians in the Arts, by Steve Turner. The author is a writer by trade but his words ring true for anyone who’s struggled to live in Christ and use their gifts for His glory, be it in music, painting, writing, drama, etc. He challenges your notion of what good “Christian Art” really is and should be. A great quote from this book is, “When Christians think of the arts as something that can be used to win the world to Christ, they create an unrealistic expectation of the arts and put unfair pressure on artists.” Great read.
Here are just a few of the folks I’ve stumbled upon recently who are inspiring to me:
Joel Sheesley(third pic, Pigeons 2006):
Hundreds of amazing and faith challenging artists can be found at http://civa.org/