Christian Art and Aesthetics

Does “good” art have to be beautiful? Here is an interesting video about the need for real life to be reflected in the realm of Christian arts in terms of music and visual art.

The video below accompanied an article on the Gospel Coalition Website and brings up some interesting issues regarding how Christian arts are and should be changing. Some feel the tone is pompous, and I feel that their complaint is a bit unfounded. Judge for yourself.

I do have a few thoughts after watching:

I do have to disagree with their opinion that too much Christian music is happily fake and too much like the unrealistically beautiful Thomas Kinkade paintings. Maybe I listen to a different grouping of music than they do but I tell you, a lot of what I hear is brokenness in music right now. The CCM artists are getting very real. Just listen to Blessings by Laura Story. There are hundreds of songs (maybe thousands) that also give the impression that the writer has come through a difficult time of life, and they’re not afraid to sing about it. Take “Down Here’s” newest album, or half of the songs from Jeremy Camp’s Unplugged album that share brokenness and pain are where we learn about God more, become stronger and more solid in belief in Him.

This song has been so powerful in my life. Jeremy Camp’s wife died of cancer after 4 months of marriage. He can still write a song about being in the greatest pain of life yet still believing in what God has promised.

I also say we need balance. They are saying there’s not enough real life. Well, for those who are going through the trenches, yes we need to hear the songs like Blessings, but we also desperately need the songs that give real hope. The songs that take our focus off our situation and bring us to the bigger picture of Who we serve, what He is like, and what our long term future holds. It’s necessary for daily survival. We need the songs that Chris Tomlin and Matt Redman are writing because we need relief from our situation. Not just fluffy happiness, but real relief that points us to our Creator and is a genuine comfort.

Yes, there needs to be a recognition that we are destitute and life isn’t perfect. Right now life is so painful I can’t take in all the facets in one glance and the days that I try to, my tears fall all day long and my body hurts. . .BUT I have a Savior and He is walking with me, helping me through, and I have His promises to lean on when I’m so distraught that my hands shake. There’s a difference between celebrating the truth of God in my life and putting on a fake front that everything is okay.

I’m saying that we need both, and in the music industry of CCM, we certainly have both.

As for Thomas Kinkade? As an artist, I agree with their perception of the artist’s opinion of him. But as a Christian? Maybe people’s lives are so difficult they need the warm glow for some relief. Again, balance.

Yes, the Psalms are full of David simply crying out to God in distress, but you can pretty much count on David in the last few verses to remind himself Who God is, and why he can be joyful even though the tears are flowing.

Tragic Art – controversial healing for 9/11

The dilemma of expressive art on the still raw emotion of 9/11

I recently stumbled on an article entitled Terrible Beauty written just before the September 11th ten year anniversary, and even though it’s a little old, I’d still like to bring it here to this blog. The article visits the difficulty of presenting art, photography, and memorabilia to the public due to the wide array of reactions that may result. This is not a mere matter such as whether or not someone appreciated an artists’ work, it is however a potentially explosive subject because the event has so deeply devastated and changed Americans.

Unidentified Woman

Unidentified Woman ©Sarah Charlesworth 1980, created 21 years before 9/11, this piece is a prime example of art that can unintentionally be connected to 9/11 events.

In the article,   notes “For New York museums, it’s not clear whether creating content related to the anniversary of 9/11 is a responsibility, an opportunity, or an invitation to inevitable and unwanted controversy.” Some art can appear insensitive and have been removed from public display, for example, Eric Fischl’s Tumbling Woman was quickly excluded from the Rockefeller Center. In these cases, “priorities of patriotism, as well as the moral rights of victims and their families, trumped freedom of expression.”

The Museum of Modern Art in Long Island, NY currently has an entire floor devoted to September 11. The catch is that most of the installations were created before the September attacks, however they surprisingly bring on a connection to the attacks due to their unintentional, however iconic nature.

Francesc Torres, a professional photographer who documented the wreckage brought to a hangar at JFK,  grappled with concerns that his photography of 9/11 events would appear too much like art. His photographs can be found in the National Geographic book, Memory Remains.

“The chronicle in the official book of the 9/11 Memorial, A Place of Remembrance (National Geographic), shows, as if any more proof were needed, how sensitive, delicate, and fraught each object, image, and symbol of the attacks remains.”

A Place of Remembrance

As I read this article I am unsure that we will find the right answer for the public as a whole. It seems that we are teetering on a necessary tightrope of expression to heal and remember but there is always the danger of being offensive, insensitive, and exploitive.

Where is the balance? I believe it’s in the individual to either attend the exhibitions, memorials,  sift through the books if that is what will help them and stay away if it is offensive. Within reason and sensitivity, I believe that artistic expression is necessary especially if the artist themselves is honestly grieving and a journey through 9/11 art creation will genuinely be a healing experience for them. If this is the case, I’m not sure if the tragedy can be depicted in a hurtful offensive way.

Memory Remains The bottom line is, people are still grieving and as grief takes on many forms people are compelled to behave in different ways. What might help one person heal may also send another into a crippling tailspin of despair. We all need to be sensitive, without being too sensitive. Together, in the remembering, crying, and telling of their stories whatever form that may take, America will slowly begin to heal. I believe it has only begun.

Want more?

Visit the official 9/11 memorial website
Comment to share your opinion on this blog or my Facebook Page.

Wine of Release

Wine of Release ©Rebecca Finch

Wine of Release ©Rebecca Finch

There have been days where I was too upset to paint. I would go in, put music on, don my hat, get my tools ready – all with a heavy heart. Only 30 minutes into painting I couldn’t see because of my tears and I felt I couldn’t breathe because of the weight of all I had experienced. (Ever been in so much emotional pain, you can actually feel physical pain? Yeah, been there these last 2 weeks.)

I was making such a mess of things because seeing and thinking properly cannot be done while upset. So I had to leave the painting and still life alone for a few days. I had more important things to do than to play with paint anyway, although my husband wants me to keep working because he knows painting this series will also help me to process everything.

But now I am back at it. Things are looking up for now, my heart is beginning to heal and it seems that my painting skills have returned after not having painted in so long. I’m really looking forward to my next painting session so I can play with those roses.

Healing Art

He Makes All Things New ©Rebecca Finch

He Makes All Things New ©Rebecca Finch

Last week was quite possibly the worst week in my life, and each day continues to be a challenge. Our lives will never be the same and I imagine years from now I may still be shedding tears over the changes that we have experienced. However as always, good things come from painful situations. We are already seeing good come. Somehow the healing will take place and I believe that for me, the Lord has given me ideas and a creative outlet for working out this pain for His good.

He Makes All Things New was started the week before my world was rocked. But as I finished the painting today and looked back on what I was beginning to see as God’s idea of last week, I had to recognize that He is doing a new thing in our lives. And since everything God does is good I am in awe of how He has wielded a devastating week into joy and blessing. Only He can do such things.

Stay tuned for more paintings in this collection as I somehow put on canvas through still life the healing that I have miraculously received from Him in just a few days. It should have taken me a year to get here. Praise the Lord for the new things He does!