Living at the convergence of faith and art.

Making Art: Whom Do I Reflect?

Drops on a LeafWhat Do I “Do”?

At a recent Men’s Bible Study, I was asked what I “do”. I said that I am an artist.  My friend continued, “What kind of art do you make?” I briefly answered that the work I do is a fusion of my faith and creativity.  I take what God shares with me, and I tell stories.

This was a rare conversation because most people just shut down after my first answer.  They simply don’t want to explore a vocation outside of their own personal norm; office, medical, legal, financial, laborer, engineering, etc.

In the great alchemy of gathering, incubating, and making, God’s deep influence is made evident.

I am learning to be brief.  These days simply I tell people that I make art in both visual and performance media.  I try to leave them with a nice neat package of who I am and what I do, much like the other packages they’re accustomed to when talking about professions.  In Christ, my self-esteem is strong and I no longer need to verbally bury people to be understood and valued.

For Whom Do I Make?

It is for God whom I make art. God is my audience of One, and if people like what I’m making and are somehow spiritually nourished and nurtured, all the better.  In this way any personal disappointment disappears.  In Christ, I am empowered to explore, express, and make to God’s glory.

In the great alchemy of gathering, incubating, and making, God’s deep influence is made evident. It embodies something of His message, His ideas, His relationship with me, in me. I work to reflect the essence of this relationship back to Him and to share it with world.

In Making, Whom Do I Reflect?

In as much as the life of a Christian must reflect the power and joy of His presence in our lives – we are in fact His living witnesses – all that we make and do as His faith-driven artists must likewise reflect His loving majesty and glory.  We are living reflections of the person, nature, and character of God through Christ Jesus.  All that we make is an outpouring of that relationship. Our creative response to Him is far more than a mere worldview.  It’s a way of life. Through our creative lives, we share with the world, our response to God. We bare ourselves, as artists do, and become vulnerable.

In this idea I am echoing something Madeleine L’Engle wrote:

As I listen to the silence, I learn that my feelings about art and my feelings about the Creator of the Universe are inseparable. To try to talk about art and about Christianity is for me one and the same thing, and it means attempting to share the meaning of my life, what gives it, for me, its tragedy and its glory. It is what makes me respond to the death of an apple tree, the birth of a puppy, northern lights shaking the sky, by writing stories.

L’Engle / Walking On Water: Reflections on Faith and Art / pg 16

In the Silence, Whom Do I Find?

In the silence of this inseparable union I too have learned, that when I am quiet and deeply listen, then more and more deeply do I come to know that He is God. What silence, you may ask?

I’ve learned silence in many forms.  It’s far more than the absence of sound.  Certainly silence can be a meditative peace and quiet. Silence can also be joy and stillness in the face of adversity. Silence  occurs in the presence of faith. When we move beyond mere belief; when we act upon that belief in faith, we develop the ability to remain still and know that He is God.

L’Engle’s inseparable union is the root source of my use of the phrase faith-driven art/artist. Again, our art is a response to the depth and richness of our relationship with God.  The deeper, more resilient, and richer is our walk with God,  how much more then will our art-making directly reflect the majesty of that relationship, and bring to Him glory.

My Making, God-ly / God-less?

In fact I venture to say that all art is a response to our relationship with (or without) God.  He is the original Creator. Having made us in His image we all, believers and unbelievers alike, carry creative potential. We alone choose to adopt either a faith-filled, a faith-less, or an indifferent worldview. Our worldview – the way we choose to see and value the world –  drives all our lifestyle choices and consequently, all the art we make.

It comes down to the question of whom it is we’ve chosen to serve, and thereby Reflect.  Our art is a proclamation that God loves us and calls us to a right relationship with Him forever. Such highly-skilled creative expression comes only from the spirit of an artist in the deep bonds of relationship with God the Father Almighty, through Jesus Christ – the faith-driven artist.

Your Thoughts?

How do you reflect your faith in or through the art you make?  What kinds of conversations do you encounter in describing your life of faith and art?  How do you remain close to God and creatively inspired?

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One response

  1. Colin Wilcox

    Let’s add something to these ideas, a couple principles that I gleaned from reading “Culture in Christian Perspective,” by Leland Ryken. They go (in brief) like this:

    1. No matter how hard artists try, they can’t hide what they truly believe. Your core beliefs will surface in you work in some way. And as a result…

    2. Artists are free to speak artistically. They don’t have to “spell it out” when it comes to their beliefs, and in fact, they shouldn’t, because they stray into propaganda if they do.

    Now couple that with Rookmaaker’s assertion that it’s for freedom that Christ set the artist free. Where does that leave you? What opens up? 🙂

    May 23, 2011 at 6:46 pm