Saturday, November 22, 2014

Reading Three- Why We Need Artists

A piece presented in this chapter:

Altarpiece and Reliquary of St. Clive by Tyrus Clutter 

Here are some quotes that I found interesting, along with thoughts.

"Art is getting across indefinable, but inescapable meaning... Art has to have a place for the observer to explore and wrestle with the message. If the meaning of a work is apparent, allowing the audience with little effort to say 'of course, that is what it means' and if the work can be stated in one sentence, it is not art." ( Pg.118)

- I agree that it is important for a piece of art to be able to speak for itself in a sense, For people to be drawn to it for unique reasons, and for them to conjure up their own stories and meanings for it; however, I wouldn't say that an artwork that has an overt meaning, is not art. The renaissance paintings of the Crucifixion are pretty clearly about the death of Jesus Christ, and I could look at them and conclude this within seconds. How could I say they are not art? Same with my potter friends, they make beautiful ceramic pieces that have no deep meaning, but are beautiful. How could I say they aren't artists? Perhaps I have misunderstood his meaning, but from what I gather, I cannot say that I agree.

"What I have found is that the meaning of life is the glory of God. All meaning is some aspect of the glory of God. If there is no God then nothing can have ultimate significance. The word glory means weight, it means significance- it basically is means 'meaning'". (Pg.119)

- I think human has given into the fallacy that we can find meaning outside of God. And regardless of how many times we fail at finding it, we still try. Yet, we give up on seeking God with such ease. This really frustrates me about the world we live in, it frustrates me about my self. The discovery of meaning is glorious, because God is glorious and the foundation of all meaning.

"It takes imagination to sense something has meaning because we cannot cognitively grasp the glory of God. The glory of God is beyond our ability to understand or describe." (Pg.120)

- I never really thought of imagination as being a way to draw closer to God. For some reason the word "imagine" always makes me think of Disney Land or daydreaming about a boy. I'm not quite sure why. The word imagination feels far away, like thinking on things that you will never be able to grasp. But this is a really interesting perspective, and I think it's time for me to refine my definition of imagination.

"...unless you use imagination, unless you take a truth and you image it- which of course is art- you don't know what it means." (Pg.121)

-The idea of "imaging" truth is fascinating. And the more I think about it, the more it is true. When I am making a decision, so much time goes into imagining different scenarios and how they might affect my decision. When I am talking with a friend about a theological issues, hearing stories where I can apply imagery helps to much. I think we need to revisit the importance of imagination within the Church. Perhaps that us why God commands us to be like children.

"We can't understand truth without art. In fact, a preacher cannot really express the truth he knows without at least couching it in some artistic form. The Church needs artists to assist the body in understanding truth, but just as importantly the Church needs artists to equip the Church to praise God. We cannot praise God without art." (Pg.122)

- My Church community, Imago Dei, is so intentional about making art a part of every service. They have a place for the artists, and an understanding of the need for us in the church. Every Sunday we either have a live painting, a poem read, or a unique music arrangement that feeds our souls in an amazing way. The community understands that we need art to worship and I really love that. So shameless plug: You should visit Imago Dei Community some time :)

"The Church needs artists because without art we cannot reach the world. The simple fact is that the imagination 'get's you', even when your reason is completely against the idea of God. Imagination communicates indefinable but inescapable truth." (Pg.123)

- As an artist passionate about storytelling and reaching the impoverished without a voice, I know the importance of art that communicates what people can't see for themselves. Growing up as a missionary kid, I had to see poverty on a daily basis, but not all people have to deal with that. The church can reach those people through showing this indefinable and inescapable truth, and I hope to be a significant art of this movement some day.

"Your heart knows what your mind is denying. We need Christian artists because we are never going to reach the world without great Christian art to go with great Christian talk." (Pg.123)

- I think the famous saying "Don't talk the talk, walk the walk" should be changed to "Don't talk the talk, take the photograph" (or insert other art medium), haha. It is through creating events, art, music, poetry, and the like that we "walk the walk".

"The Christian artist needs to interact with community because of what he will bring out in others and what they will bring out in him... We all need each other because we cannot  possibly see the whole thing. We need one another because only together do we get some idea of the multifaceted array of God's glory...We get a leaf. But only together as artists are we going to see the whole incredible tree. We all have to 'do our own leaf.' Every one of us has something to contribute." (Pg.124)

- This is a beautiful truth that I constantly have to remind myself of when I become individualistic in my art making. I need to remember that collaboration is not only necessarily, but essential in seeing the face of God more fully.

Thoughts on our visit with  Brother Andre  at Mt. Angel Abbey 

"Make art for yourself and to love others, not because of the money. Making art for the money makes you a prostitute. Trust that God will provide for you. Art is faith based income."

- Ahhh... I think I about fell over when he said this. I had never thought of my desire and anxiousness about making a living as prostitution. And I know earning money is not bad, but idolizing it is and this analogy really caused me to do a lot of self reflecting on our ride home.

"Pray for clients and commissions."

- I never thought to pray for client or commissions... unless I am nervous about performing poorly, then I pray. I need to make it more of a rhythm and custom.

"Try to reflect God in your work, not yourself."

- Once again... convicted, gee thanks Brother Andre, haha.

"The ultimate act of freedom is to submit your will to another. Which is not a popular view today, especially in America." 

- We talked more about this later. The idea that what America sees as "rebellion" today isn't rebellion at all, it is complacency. Real religion is going against what the world is doing, which is loving unconditionally, forgiving, and accepting.


Bustard, Ned, and Sandra Bowden. "God Is Good like No Other." It Was Good: Making Art to the Glory of God. Baltimore, MD: Square Halo, 2000.

- Awesome story on Brother Andre:

-Interesting perspective on the role of Christian Artists:


  1. Very nice job, and I like that you reflected upon the chapter in the book you found interesting as well. Nice work nailing some of Brother Andre's comments to us. I found them very assuring and convicting as well!

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