IS YOUR ART SAFE? (How then should we create?)
I was on a vigorous ride on my “vintage” 1982 Nishiki “Olympic” bicycle on the side-roads of Guelph, Ontario, back in the late Fall before the Winter ice and snow started … squeezing as much time out of the riding season as I could. This is one of my creative places where I dream big dreams, God brings ideas to mind … and as often happens (inspired by the fresh air, beautiful open spaces and blood coursing through my veins) a number of thoughts began flooding my mind about art and what it means to be a Christian Creative in our World today. I scribbled down these thoughts when I got home and just revisited them recently, to write this blog post.
There has been a trend in recent years among Christians in the World and in the Church to be producing what I call “safe art” …
There has been a trend in recent years among Christians in the World and in the Church to be producing what I call “safe art”. Art that is watered down, safe and “sanctified” so that it can be done in the Church or in the World as outreach …
Another form of art that we produce is what I call “copy-art” – where we copy the trends of the secular art industry. We really see this in music, but it is also duplicated in the various other art forms.
The problem is, in my humble opinion, most of this art we are seeing is just BAD ART. No-one is stopping to take notice. This art is unoriginal, it has a numbing effect … it is dull and lulls many of us to sleep.
We have tried to contain art – put it in a box. It has become safe, predicable …
I am noticing that Art in the Church and in the World is becoming more and more uniform. We have labelled art as Christian and Secular. We have tried to contain art – put it in a box. It has become safe, predicable …
There is an attack on art – on creativity.
We as Christ-followers serve the Master Artist, the King of the Universe who created us in His image. As “Imago Dei Artists” we should naturally gravitate towards creativity.
WHAT IS GOOD ART?
Good art moves us, causes us to feel deeply, have a deeper understanding of humanity and human condition. Good art tells stories. Good Christian art can point to the divine. Good art can be interpreted in many different ways – forces us to use our God-given imagination. Good art engages our “Imago Dei” selves. Good art is real – filled with integrity and authenticity …
One of the mistakes we make as Christian artists is to fall into the trap of telling people what they should be feeling – prescriptive art. We try to give all the answers instead of getting out of the way and allowing God- the King of the Universe, the “Master Artist” to do that.
How then should we create?
BIG THOUGHT/QUESTION: If we as Christians have the living, breathing, enabling Master Artist living within us through His Spirit and we are completely yielded to Him, how will this effect our art and creativity? How then should we create? Shouldn’t this unleash innovative, earth-shaking, brilliant art? Shouldn’t Christian artists be leading the way in the World?
A key is that we completely yield to God – that we have given Him our creativity and passions. That we are doing our art to Glorify Him! The great artist of old, J.S. Bach, comes to mind. He ended every page of brilliant creative composing with the letters SDG – “Soli Deo Gloria” – for the Glory of God Alone! … and Bach went on and led the World in musical innovation and excellence. Much of the greatest art in history came out of the Church. Is this happening today?
We do not serve a safe God. YAHWEH – the Great I AM – from the beginning to the end, the Everlasting, the One who spun everything we see into motion, is not a “safe God”. He is described as a roaring Lion: “They will follow the LORD; he will roar like a lion. When he roars, his children will come trembling from the west” (Hosea 11:10 NIV).Any encounter with the King of the Universe ends with a falling on our knees in humble adoration, in fear and trembling.
As “Imago Dei” children of an unsafe God, our art should not be safe! We should be unleashed to create and innovate excellent art through the power of the Spirit of the Master Artist within.
May God give us all divine boldness as Christian Creatives to bring God’s Kingdom down on earth through our art.
Trevor Dick – artistic director and artist with Flyingbow