Monday, December 12, 2016

Christianity and Art: 7 Resources for the Artist and the Pastor

If you look at some of my other posts, you'll find that I'm very interested in the relationship between art and religion, specifically Christianity. In fact, studying this stuff is kind of one of my pet projects... Every once in a while I slip into hardcore nerd-mode and dig around for books and articles on the subject. So, I've decided to share some of the resources I've come across. For real, these seven resources are just the tip of the iceberg! There is so much more to it than just painting cartoon-y Bible stories on the classroom walls in your church. I hope you feel inspired to check out some of these resources, because they really are awesome and super insightful.

1. CIVA--Christians in the Visual Arts

An organization that connects artists, critics, collectors, professors, pastors, and any other arts professionals interested in the relationship between art and the Christian faith. I'm not a member, but it looks like a great opportunity for networking, advertising, and finding events related to the church and the arts. I learned about it recently when my academic adviser sent my info about one of CIVA's upcoming art contests. I'm definitely going to keep an eye on what they're doing, and see if it's something I want to get involved in.

2. It Was Good: Making Art to the Glory of God, ed. by Ned Bustard

(Baltimore, MD: Square Halo Books, 2007)

This is is a book my parents gave me when I was considering art school, before I even dove into this pet-project of mine. It's a collection of essays on the theory and practice of making art with a Christian perspective. It encourages a worldview that consists of a Creator God who wants to restore the relationship with his creation. It can be heavy and theological at times, but I love it. It's definitely not for the faint at heart as far as Christian creativity is concerned. 

You can find this book for $10 online, or try looking in your local library. But if you feel strongly about this subject, I definitely recommend buying it!

3. 81 Things You Can Do to be a More Artist-Friendly Church

If you like lists, this is the list for you. I love some of the ideas in this article! Manual Luz, Creative Arts Pastor at Oak Hills Church in Folsom, California, clearly has a passion for the arts and for God. In fact, you should check out the rest of his blog, too. It's a refreshing read that has me feeling really excited about how God can use the arts for his purposes.

Or for a different spin on a similar concept, check out:

4. How to Discourage Artists in the Church

Philip Ryken puts together a list which can be pretty eye-openings for artists and church staff alike. A few of these, like "never pay artists for their work", hit close to home in my life. I've done a number of creative projects for my church, and I've only been paid once. Don't get me wrong--I probably wouldn't have accepted much, if any, payment for most of those projects! I'm not saying this to criticize my church or complain behind the staff's backs. I love them to pieces and I'm so glad for the opportunities I've had to serve in a way that truly utilizes my skills! But, there's a balance to strike, particularly if your church has the resources to spare. 

5. For the Beauty of the Church: Casting a Vision for the Arts, ed. by David Taylor

(Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2010)

Another book given to me by my parents, this one is similar to the book above, as a collection of essays. However, where "It Was Good" is more artist-focused, this one is more church-focused. The list of contributors includes artists, pastors, and everything in-between, and each essay focuses on a different aspect of bringing the arts into a church setting.

Again, you can probably find this book for $10 online, or maybe at your local library. It, too, is definitely worth the money if you feel strongly about this!

6. Is There a Place for Creative Christians?

I have mixed feelings on Relevant Magazine; at times it can be a little click-bait-y for my tastes. But they've also published some gems, and this is one of them. This, too, is a compilation of what several individuals in the Christian creative sphere have to say on the subject. I really appreciated the readers' comments below the article, as well. Also, type "Christian Art" into the search box and you'll find some other really good articles from Relevant. 

7. Visual Arts in Church: Making the Invisible Word Visible

Folks, Joan Huyser-Honig really brought it with this article. Are you called to be an artist, or is art the best way to fulfill your calling to be a Christian? This article digs into the christian calling, the arts, visual representation and learning, and what art can and should mean within the community of the church. Such a good article!

I hope that one day I can take some of the ideas and concepts from the resources above and incorporate them in my church, as I already am in my art, and I hope you feel inspired to do the same!

Thoughts? Ideas? More recommendations? Comment below!

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