Friday, 30 March 2012

The Satanic Ideology of Photoshop

Many of us are in the business of making images and it's clear from scripture that they have great power.  In the world today we are surrounded by images that whether we realise it or not are affecting the way we think about God and the way we think about ourselves.  Below is a link to a great article that reminds us of the manipulative power of the image as seen in magazines and how as Chrsitians we should respond.

The Satanic Ideology of Photoshop

Friday, 16 March 2012

Book Review: Beyond Air Guitar by Ally Gordon, 2012

Marketed as "a rough guide for Christian Students and Graduates in Art, Design and the Media", Ally Gordon has provided a really helpful workbook for all of you thinking about the nature of being a Christian and an artist.  From the big questions like 'What is Christian Art?' to 'How is Art worship', as well as some great chapters on what the Bible has to say about it all, this book really is super practical, helpful and insightful.

There's a great section at the end of the book as well with artists being interviewed about being a Christian in the industry, from the likes of Norman Stone to Interface graduates, as well as hands-on advice on the reality of pursuing a career in the arts after college.
What excited me as I read this book was the freedom we discover in the Bible to be creators, and to enjoy pursuing being made in God's image and working for God's glory.

Ally used to do mine and Craig's job for UCCF and so a lot of the material has come out of questions you guys have been asking for the last few years! Ally now works part-time as a painter, and also for Morphe Arts (formerly known as Interface Arts Graduates).  If you're graduating this coming year, do check out Morphe as your next port of call - it's a really valuable network of like-minded Christians in the arts.

Monday, 12 March 2012

Bad art and the tortured beauty of the cross

Something to ponder over your next KitKat break:

Three Americans (and one big bow tie) discuss why Christians seem to sanitise our groaning creation rather than producing work that truly connects and accords with the fallen reality around us.

What struck a cord while watching this discussion, in line with what we were also discussing at the recent Interface gathering in London, was their engagement with the reality of what we read in the Scriptures.  The temptation to anaesthetise the world around us violates the very fabric of literature within the Bible that exposes the ugly nature of man's heart and rebellion against God: just take a look at the cries of the psalmists, the lamenting Job and the hideous scenes that litter the pages of Judges.

Andrew Jones, our speaker at Interface London this month encouraged us to get unbelievers to judge our work, rather than our Christian friends.  Why? Because more often than not, they seem to be producing work that really does accord with the real questions that we all face. Do you agree?  As Christians are we creating work that truly resonates with the rawness that people feel? Are we creating work that presents the 'tension' of being in a broken world?

Kinkade: Christmas cottage
Anyway, listening to these guys discuss the likes of kinkade (most successful commercial artist in America) and what truly makes a work of art resonate with our experiences, is well worth a listen over your next coffee break.

Friday, 9 March 2012

Is The Source of Inspiration Found Within?

Discussion of a C.S. Lewis Quote

A Christian and an unbelieving poet may both be equally original ... and draw on resources peculiar to themselves, but with this difference. The unbeliever may take his own temperament and experience, just as they happen to stand, and consider them worth communicating simply because they are his. To the Christian his own temperament and experience, as mere fact, and as merely his, are of no value or importance whatsoever: he will deal with them, if at all, only because they are the medium through which, or the position from which, something universally profitable appeared to him.
... C. S. Lewis (1898-1963), “Christianity and Literature”, in Rehabilitations and other essays, Oxford University Press, 1939, p. 193


Some years ago at a group exhibition I noticed that in every persons blurb about their work it was made clear that the primary source of inspiration and ideas had come from ‘within’.  The work was not about the world as we look at it but, was about ‘me’ as I look at ‘me’, how ‘I’ feel, how ‘I’ think, ‘my’ existence and the idea that who ‘I’ am is all I can ever truly know.  The general ethos was that art is about ‘me’ and for ‘me’.  C.S. Lewis warns Christians about this self exalting attitude to making art in the quote above.  He says, “To the Christian his own temperament and experience, as mere fact, and as merely his, are of no value or importance whatsoever…” Isn’t that a bold statement in todays society!  But it’s true, isn’t it?  The only thing of true value to us as Christians is that which comes from outside, that which comes from God.  Paul says in Romans 12 verse 3:

“For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgement, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.”

The only thing inside us of value, and worth considering, is the faith that has been given to us by God.  This should make us very humble and outward-looking artists indeed!

Now let’s look at a couple of brief examples of God’s people making art in the bible.  What was their primary resource and who did their art benefit?

Adam’s first recorded acts of creativity;
  • He looked at Gods creation and named the animals. 
  • He looked at Gods creation and composed a poem about Eve. 

His acts of creativity were not about him but they were about the gifts God had given him in the world.  Who benefited?  Primarily not Adam (although he would have found pleasure in his creativity) but the animals, Eve, and ultimately God as he watched his creation being “very good”.

Or consider the Psalms.  The writers are always outward looking, always singing about the world around them and their faithful creator.  The overriding sense is that what’s inside of man cannot be trusted; we can trust God alone.  Take for example Psalm 103 verse 1:

“Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name!”

The Psalmist doesn’t in anyway exalt his own soul but rather he exhorts his soul to bless the LORD.  There is no hint of self exaltation or pride.   Although the Psalm is deeply personal there is no doubt that the emphasis is not on ‘me’ but on God.  So who does the Psalm benefit?  This Psalm has benefited, served, and challenged people for centuries and it undoubtedly honours the creator of heaven and earth!

There are many, many other examples we could look at through the bible but finally let’s think about Jesus.  You might say that Jesus was not an artist (aside from his carpentry) but every word and action from Christ was loaded with creative meaning and purpose, and what’s more, he always looked outside of himself for his material.  As John 15 verse 15 says,

"…for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you."

The source of what Jesus said and did was God the Father.  All of his miracles, radical actions, conversations, parables, statements about his identity, everything found its source in God.  He looked outside of himself even to the point of death as Paul writes in Philippians 2 verses 6-8:

“…though he was in the form of God, he did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.  And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”

Who benefited?


If you’re an artist, I challenge you to consider C.S. Lewis statement above.  Is your art made in reference to your take on the world or Gods take on the world?  Does your art serve you or does it serve other people and honour God?

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

What do you enjoy about Interface?

HOW TO: Get an Interface Arts gathering off the ground

Ingredients needed:
A venue: a coffee shop, a studio space at uni, someone's living room, a room in a church - anywhere which will facilitate good discussion

Food: Some home baked brownies or cookies are always a good start to the evening + a big pot of tea and coffee

Some publicity - create an event on facebook, or even a group - find a bunch of Christian art students who are keen and spread the word.

A date: that isn't CU night, or church bible study night.  It won't suit everyone but go with what will work for the majority

How long? Anything from half and hour to a couple of hours, or even a whole day

What to do: 
Find something to discuss together: Find out what questions everyone's asking about being a Christian art student and go from there.

Why not read a chapter of Imagine by Steve Turner together and discuss it (Interface Wales get together and do this each week); or Art and the Bible by Schaeffer is another short and stimulating piece for discussion

Or you could listen to one of the talks from the talks page on this blog and then discuss it

Another idea that works well is a 'Show and tell' - a few people bring their work and talk about it, with a chance for a crit too

Or why not go to a gallery and then intentionally discuss what issues are raised for you as a Christian having seen the work

Or how about invitiing one of the UCCF arts staff workers (aka Sarah or Craig!) to speak at an event, or arrange for them to join you and do an 'Interface' day

Pray for one another and your witness in art colleges.

Have a go!