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Gospel & Art Intersection: Why Art Should Be Shared

October 30, 2013 by Mike Juday 5 comments

Posted in: Gospel & Art

I thank God that our world isn't like the popular '90s teen flick, She's All That, in which the artists stick out like a socially-disturbed, sore thumb. Today, artists come in all shapes and sizes, all colors and demeanors. But what unites artists (serious artists) is the drive to share their art. What would the world be like if Michelangelo, Kurt Cobain, Isaac Watts, or Sylvia Plath had chosen to keep their art to themselves?! The world would be at a tremendous loss.

I'm sure you feel flattered that I compared your art to these amazing artists. Most of us won't have the impact that these artists have had but we all have the ability to positively affect the world through our art, if it's 1 person or 1 million people.

What makes art so amazing is that we are able to feel emotions and see truth in a new way that we've never been able to before. Good art takes the spotlight off of the artist and puts the spotlight on the beauty of truth. For the longest time, I feared sharing my art because I couldn't stand having it be criticized. I do believe that there is some art that is just for the artist. I use art to process my emotions and specifically when I'm going through hard times. But even that can help others who might hear/see/read it.

We find meaning in art and it might even be something different than the artist had intended. A painting can mean 10 different things to 10 different people. But, once again, the spotlight is taken off of the artist. As a Christian artist, my desire is that the spotlight be taken off of me and that the art would be a platform to make much of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I'm reminded of 2 specific passages in Scripture:

Matthew 25:14-27 tells the story of rich man who gave his talents (gold or silver) to 3 servants while he was away. Two of the servants invested and doubled their talents but one servant buried his talent in the sand, wanting to keep it safe. When the rich man returned, he was very pleased with the two servants who doubled their talents and he was very angry with the servant who buried his talents.

This story communicates the importance to grow the talents that have been given to us. If it is cooking or painting, prophecy or teaching, each of us are to be faithful with the gifts that have been given.

1 Corinthians 12:12-31 is a passage that compares the church to a body: all different members working together and depending on each other. If the mouth refuses to eat then the whole body will die, if the heart refuses to beat then the whole body will die, if the lungs refuse to breath then the whole body will die.

These bible passages lead me to three convictions about art:

  1. Artist must grow their art - this gift has been given to you to be a faithful steward of. Do not bury your gifts and hope that you're keeping it safe.
  2. Artists are of EQUAL importance to the health of the body - I emphasized "equal" as to communicate that art isn't the most important and it is not of little importance. The body is depending on art for healthiness.
  3. Artists have a responsibility to creatively communicate truth - as a Christian, I believe that the deepest truth is the gospel of Jesus Christ. Even if you are not a Christian, the gift to communicate the beautiful truth is both a gift and a responsibility.

I have simple and practical steps to conclude:

To the artist who is creating - set sharing goals for yourself. Just like a runner will run a race, set a goal and have some one hold you accountable. Start a blog, join a club, play an open mic, share with 1 friend or with 50 friends.

To all of us - be encouraging and welcoming to these artists. Be blessed by their gifts. You don't need to be an intellectual to be blessed by some one's art.

“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.”

Thomas Merton, No Man Is an Island

Resources:

  • No Man Is an Island by Thomas Merton
  • Doxology & Theology by Matt Boswell
  • Unceasing Worship by Harold Best
  • Fine Art Views (www.faso.com/fineartviews)

5 Comments

Jared,
I've seen some of that too. I think I understand that a little bit but I know for me, the most impactful art comes from the depths of the artists' heart - ugly or beautiful. I deeply enjoy knowing the artists' intentions even if the intention is "emotion" or "vague".
However, the beauty and frustration of art is that it has taken on such a wide range. There was a time that Jazz music was considered vulgar! Now you can study it in college and even high school. Art creates rules (communicated and non-communicated), then breaks the rules. Art can be meaningful or it can mean nothing. Personally, I'm most attracted to art that has meaning.

Mike Juday on Oct 31, 2013 at 3:24pm

In reference to Gabe's first question, I love your answer, Mike. I've noticed a trend among artists lately who create something (a music video or a painting, for example) and refuse to talk a out the meaning behind it, claiming that they don't want to project their own interpretation onto the viewer. And while I get that, it also seems like a cop out; makes it feel like they don't actually have a meaning, they just made something that looks cool. If that's the case, that's fine, but I wish they would be honest about that. I absolutely want to know why an artist chose to make something. There's something special about viewing something artistic and getting to feel "in on it." I think that connects us even more, even if that connection is just sharing in the "that was sweet" moment.

Jared on Oct 30, 2013 at 7:30pm

Gabe,

Great questions!!!
1) I believe that the artist's interpretation is extremely important. When I see or learn the artist's intention, the art hits me in a new way! I believe that art should effect us on multiple different levels. But I do believe that art is most captivating (beautiful or painful) when the artists' intentions are known.

2) I believe that once art is shared, there is MORE meaning for the artist. There have been a few songs i've written in which a listener has shared with me what the song means to them. It's, more often than not, effected them in a specific way that I would never be able to manufacture. For art, the more meaning people find in it, the more it becomes a living, breathing thing.

3) I've been thinking of this too. I've come to the conclusion that people can be supportive of artists but that's a very vague and big idea.

I'd love to hear your thoughts (and anyone's thoughts) on the questions that you brought up

Mike Juday on Oct 30, 2013 at 4:15pm

This also made me wonder what other ways people can participate in the arts in significant ways even when we're not creating?

Gabe deG on Oct 30, 2013 at 2:07pm

This made me wonder a couple of questions:

1) When creating and sharing how important is the Artist's interpretation of the art?
2) Does their meaning of their created artwork diminish once it's shared?

I'd love for anyone to chime in with their thoughts.

Gabe deG on Oct 30, 2013 at 2:01pm

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