Sunday, November 20, 2005
The Theresa Interview Part 2
10. Everyone that knows you, knows that you are a creative and exceptional artist. What place does art, namely visual arts such as painting and drawing, have in the Christian life and church?
- Visual arts have always been a big part of the Christian life, ever since the Creation! Our God is creative, imaginative, and artistic. And for centuries, art has been used to depict images of the gospel story. I remember traveling to Florence, Italy, and seeing all sorts of architecture with Christian themes. Back in the day, Christians used relief sculptures on church doors to tell the story of Christ because many people were illiterate and therefore, unable to read the Scriptures for themselves. Many of the old cathedrals have murals on ceilings and walls that reflect the beauty and glory of God. Nowadays, people commonly use visual arts, like painting and drawing, to express feelings and emotions. Since the Christian life is about combining “head” knowledge with “heart” knowledge….visual arts can be a big part of communicating the “heart”. (Sorry, I didn’t mean for that to rhyme!)
11. Do you think that the area of art has been neglected by the church? If so, how would you address the issue?
- In my opinion, I have seen some churches really use art well for their ministries and even as worship to the Lord. Many churches and organizations have combined design with technology – which captures wide audiences for the Lord. Examples: Liquid, ministry of Austin Chinese Church (www.liquid-acc.com), Ecclesia in Houston (www.ecclesiahouston.org), Youth Specialties (www.youthspecialties.com). The only concern I have is if church becomes over commercialized due to reliance on visual designs.
12. What is the definition of good art? And does it have to have an explicit "Christian message", such as having a big cross on everything you paint or draw?
- Of course, people are always going to be judgmental when it comes to art – there are certain things that some people find easier-to-look-at and some things that are just plain "ugly". It's always hard to say whether a piece of art is good or bad – it depends who’s viewing it. Either way, I believe that God will be glorified as long as "whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, and not for men..." (Col 3:23). If your artwork is done to bless the Lord and not for personal glory or for others, then "you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward (v. 24)" because it is "good" to Him. That being said, it doesn’t have to have a big cross, or Jesus’ face, or bright white glowing light in order to be have a Christian theme. A biblical concept can be abstractly illustrated or referenced – doesn’t have to be “in-your-face”. However, I have been impressed and seen God work through a particular artist who is dubbed as “the Jesus painter”, Mike Lewis. He paints large portrait canvases of Jesus and parts of His ministry. Check out his website – www.jesuspainter.com.
13. In your life, how have you used art to glorify God?
- Having recognized that God has blessed me with a love for art and aesthetically-pleasing things, I try to use it to bless others and Him in return. For example, I really enjoy making gifts for friends. I've noticed that some of their most favorite things I've given them are not generic store-bought items, but instead are the unique hand-made ones. So, I spend a lot of my free time thinking of ways I can encourage my friends with creative presents - whether it's by sewing a pillow, painting a picture, or designing a card. Also, I love decorating and using my living space to display artwork or things that reflect the beauty and glory of God. My husband and I just moved to Vancouver, Canada, and we're living in a basement suite. There is so much room for me to decorate. I am currently brainstorming ways to use the walls as a "gallery" for paintings and other creations. Lastly, I think it glorifies God when we notice and talk about His creation! Remembering that God himself is an artist helps us to view the world with wide eyes. As an elementary art teacher, I would talk with the kids about what they see in nature and how we could create things to reflect the beautiful colors/patterns/textures found in this world.