My thinking about art is related to God’s beauty and creativity. God is the ultimate artist. He didn’t simply make things “efficient.” He made them unnecessarily beautiful and diverse. God makes beautiful things, communicates creatively with words, inspires music, performs dramatic actions, and transforms broken people into beautiful masterpieces. He delights to make. In that sense, love leads to art. And, being made in God’s image, humans are creative. Art is a way to reflect God’s beauty.
We have been given not only the ability to reason but also to imagine. Since the “heavens declare the glory of God,” they call you to use your imagination to infer what creation suggests about God. If what God has made is beautiful, then He must be beautiful, creative, and generous. God has gone to great lengths to help us imagine his kingdom. That’s hope. If we can’t imagine God’s promised future realities, we are overwhelmed by the seeming sovereignty of human forces. God has provided for us by giving us writings with an incredibly vivid visual language that lights our imagination on fire. Jesus taught in parables, indirect “pictures” of his kingdom. He also enacted dramatic “sketches” of the future restored creation through his miracles. God tells stories and uses visual language to help kindle our desires for him. Of course, art has an important function in our lives!
I understand art broadly:
All of us are engaged daily with works of art, even if we are neither professional nor amateur artists. We read books, we listen to music, we look at posters, and we admire flower arrangements. Art, as I am using the word, does not include just “high art” — that is, painting, sculpture, poetry, classical music — but also the more popular expressions — the novel, the theater, the cinema and popular music. In fact, there is a very real sense in which the Christian life itself should be our greatest work of art. Even for the great artist, the most crucial work of art is his life. (Francis Schaeffer, Art and the Bible, 49)
A contemporary artist I admire is Makoto Fujimura. He is not only a gifted painter and author, he is a cultural leader. Fujimura promotes what he calls “culture care,” which includes sharing beauty for the common good and for justice. He is currently the director of Brehm Center, which is “a Christ-centered, spiritually nourishing community that guides and resources leaders to care for culture, creatively explore and express their calling, and critically integrate worship, theology, and the arts.” See http://www.brehmcenter.com/
You can explore Fujimura’s work through the following links:
Here is a link to some of my photography or to a gallery page
Here is a list of books that have helped me think about art from a Christian perspective:
- Leland Ryken, The Christian Imagination
- William Dyrness, Visual Faith
- Francis Schaeffer, Art and the Bible
- Makoto Fujimura, Culture Care
- Gene Edward Veith and Matthew P. Ristuccia, Imagination Redeemed: Glorifying God with a Neglected Part of You Mind
- Steve Turner, Imagine: A Vision for Christians in the Arts
- John Piper, Seeing Beauty and Saying Beautifully: The Power of Poetic Effort in the Work of George Herbert, George Whitefield, and C. S. Lewis
- Gene Edward Veith, State of the Arts: From Bezalel to Mapplethorpe