Religion and the Arts

I am not pointing out anything new here with this post.  What I offer up for your consideration is this: is there a place where religion (specifically Christianity) and the arts intersect today?  There have to be Christians who are artists, and thus artists who are Christians producing contemporary art today.

This question jumped in my head after my wife forwarded me an article from Hyperallergic.com, titled “A Place Where Art and Religion Meet”.  Do religion and the arts intersect?  The article is an interview between Rob Colvin and artists AA Bronson examining the relationship between the world of art and the world of faith.

Early Christians relied heavily on the arts and some of the most world renowned and recognizable artists in history were commissioned by the church.  Raphael, Anthony van Dyck, Michelangelo, and the list goes on and on.  But, are there any contemporary artists who are dabbling or exploring the intersection where faith and art collide?  Colvin said this, ” it’s difficult to imagine fine arts and contemporary religion having anything in common… adherence to one entails a rejection of, or at least critical distance from, the other.”

This is where Bronson comes into the picture.  He founded the Institue for Art, Religion, and Social Justice and is a product of Union Theolgical Seminary.  Bronson jokingly, when responding to the idea that religion is taboo in the art world, that “there’s usually one student who is dealing with something related to Christianity” in every graduate school.  The same is true for seminary students.  I have multiple colleagues at WTS who are interested in the intersection of faith and religion, so much that there is new movement on campus that examines this intersection.

I would agree with Bronson that artists are not demons and that many Sunday morning churchgoers do not see the arts (especially contemporary works)  as having a role in their faith community.  I have seen first hand how contemporary art aids in the understanding of scripture along with being a means in which a person can experience God.

Last spring my wife was asked to interpret sections of the book of Revelations, along with several different atonement theories for two separate sermon series.  Allison’s work is as contemporary as it comes and her interpretations of the scriptures and theories were inline with her style of work.  I have seen first hand how contemporary art can aid in worship and in the understanding of scripture.

Bronson said, “not only can the art world learn from the theological world but vise versa” and I agree 100% with him.  The role that contemporary art has the potential to play in Christianity has yet to be tapped.  This might, just might be one of the ways today’s church can step forward to reach a new population previously alienated.  The first thing that must happen though, is our preconceived notions of what art is (and looks like) must be dropped and our eyes opened to experience God working through the hands of contemporary artists.

 

Here is the article from HYPERALLERGIC