But Is it Christian Art?
Have you seen the rock hard pecks on Samson in page 51 of Geez, issue 9, Art in the Age of Brutality? They could cut through glass! Instead, they cut through the mere sentimentalism often portrayed by popular Christian artistry. You know what I’m referring to. The comfortable white wash image of a Savior holding a little white lamb or child, or the perfect smiling pastor with his perfect smiling wife, inviting you to come to their perfect smiling church, ok, perhaps that last part didn’t come out right.
What makes art “Christian” or not might be as tough to answer as what makes a Christian a Christian and so I sit here, in a coffee shop, staggered by the thought of it. Looking around I can see a plethora of thought provoking wall paintings, not to mention, the open concept layout of the shop itself. Perhaps the question is unimportant. A bit redundant? If so, then surely we are people to be most pitied, surrounded by a meaningless myriad of imagery, sounds and sensations. We are, after all, living in a world that contains so much subjective beauty and ugliness’, the great horror it seems only natural, is that we find today’s artist existing in a space of postmodern wonderment where nothing but mere opinion separates good from bad, sacred from profane, lousy from magnificent. Somewhere, between the popular brash brutalism and the aforementioned well-meaning sentimentalism, the person of faith, Christian or not, must find a way to express both the meaning and purpose of their God for this world.
A photo essay by Caroline Wintoniw in the most recent issue of Geez 42, Summer 2016, Reading to Transgress out soon, displays a range of humans posing in front of projected images from their own childhood. There is one question being asked throughout: How has your view of life, neighbour, world or God changed since you were a kid? The answers are interesting, to be sure, but it’s the power of individuality, the contrasting voices and the overall difference in one human to the next that stood out to me as important. There are some things only art can show us.
It is the role of the arts within any community to engage and offer up the challenging questions, often, towards its own systems. Christian’s should not only be participants, but also, front runners, perhaps leading the way. If it is true that God created humans then this means that what we find in postmodern art, in music, paintings and films, are expressions of a God who has called them very good. I guess “Christian” art, if such a thing exists, ought to be just that.
Owen Perkins is an editorial assistant at Geez.