Faith in the Movement
I’ve had some really wonderful conversations lately, and I’m very excited about the future of the movement. What movement, you might ask? I’m talking about the Faith & Arts Movement. For me, an awareness began back in 2001 when I attended a Church Drama Conference here in Seattle. It was sponsored by our own wonderful Taproot Theatre Company.
IN THE BEGINNING
I listened intently to the Workshop Leaders. I picked up every piece of literature I could lay my hands on. The three biggest gifts I got from that gathering were; 1) an awakening to the fact that there was an on-going dialogue about the convergence of faith & art; 2) that there was a reason I bristled at the term, “Christian Artist”; 3) that author Madeleine L’Engle had written a highly praised book, Walking On Water: Reflections On Faith and Art.
I quickly got my own copy of L’Engles book. I highlighted passages, tabbed it, and even found Biblical concepts she was talking about and noted them in the margins.
It’s been 11-years since that life-changing conference. In that time I’ve done 3-years of theatre in a church, 7-years of leadership with a major Christian theatre company, and have now segued into my own visual art practice. What I’ve learned along the way has been priceless, and God and I are continually mining those hard-won, extremely difficult experiences for clarity, and vision.
I now know the difference between faith and mere-religion. I have a tougher skin and can accept secular criticism of being “too religious/spiritual.” I can even handle challenges from fellow Believers who call our art “too worldly”, or worse. I know why my fellow faith-driven artists and I shun the terms “Christian Art” or “Christian Artist”. I know why “good enough” simply isn’t and why God deserves the finest work I can possibly produce.
I read everything I can lay my hands on about this Faith & Art Movement. In my most recent reading of the blogs I follow, I’m hearing from many quarters that what once was a cacophony of disappointed, frustrated, often infuriated artists of faith, has now matured into an actual movement. It has no single leader or organization, but is without doubt directed by God’s own Holy Spirit. This is common ground we share with one another, and it’s not just an American movement either. There are creative brothers and sisters of faith all over the world participating. It’s absolutely amazing.
In a recent StoneWorks interview, CIVA Executive Director Cameron Anderson said; “Forty years ago, especially in the more conservative parts of the Protestant church, there were only a few books on art and faith—notably by writers such as Francis Schaeffer, H. R. Rookmaker, and Madeline L’Engle—and no supportive national organizations. Today, this landscape has been transformed! There is interest and support on many fronts including, but not limited to, books and blogs, conferences and journals, arts-related undergraduate and graduate programs, and local and national exhibits.”
I’m excited by my fellow creatives who are thinking about and responding to a growing awareness that our faith in God ought to be at the center of our art practices; that God is sought as the source of what is made/performed; that tangible changes in art circles, in churches, in theatres and galleries are evident.
I sense a momentum building toward a future day of critical mass. When that will happen, or what it will look like I do not pretend to know. In the mean time I am seeking to join the conversation. I pray that my own art practice will result in changed lives to God’s glory. I read books, blogs, essays, and articles. I seek fellowship with other faith-driven artists. And the intimacy of my own ArtRoom Studio, God and I work together to interpret, translate, and communicate the messages He has for me to convey through my art-making. I do the work. He gets the glory. It’s awesome.
Here are just a few links to resources you may find nurturing and nourishing. For more possibilities, please check out my blog roll in the side-bar at right. The plethora of resources available today can be overwhelming, so may I suggest that you simply skim and glean what seems meaningful to you in the creative work you’re pursuing. You’ll often find wonderful lists of meaningful links on these sights as well.
Christians in Theatre Arts (CITA) – http://cita.org/site/
Christians in Visual Arts (CIVA) – http://civa.org/
David Taylor’s Diary of an Arts Pastor – http://artspastor.blogspot.com/
IMAGE Journal – http://imagejournal.org/
International Arts Movement (IAM) – http://www.internationalartsmovement.org/
StoneWorks – http://stoneworks-arts.org/
What have been or are your experiences with finding your way to the convergence of faith and art? Where are you showing/performing your work? How do you find nourishing, nurturing friends, fellowship, and conversations?