Let me first be clear- this is my opinion. Because my husband is also an artist, he and I have had this discussion on more than one occasion. “People don’t need art,” he will say. “People need plumbers and teachers, food and cars, but not art.” My opinion is that people need art, or rather, any people group cannot sustain itself without art. It’s an interesting topic to which there may be no definitive answer; but this post is actually about a slightly narrower topic.
I think that the church needs art, perhaps now more than ever, if we really want to reach the spirits of the people who set foot in our buildings, as well as those we touch in the community at large. We could debate the word “need.” However, if you are familiar with the Biblical idea of “the body” (the church universal), you will remember that each part is considered essential- eyes, hands, head- you get the idea. Along with this idea is the recognition that each person is given certain “gifts” by God, and that each gift can be used for the benefit of other people. Each is important.
What may be less obvious is that the first spiritual gift actually mentioned in the Bible is during the construction of the first tabernacle, when God enables Bezalel to make all sorts of things from bronze and other materials. He was the first mentioned artist, which I think is really cool!
Now, we have music and art in churches, and this is certainly not new. What is new is that we humans are overwhelmed with input via media and technology. One result of this is that when you take the average person, especially one who is not particularly inclined to sit and listen to someone stand on a platform and talk about anything for any length of time, and expect him to engage with a long church sermon, his eyes are apt to glaze over.
I know this first hand because, although I am interested, indeed, in nearly every potential sermon topic, my eyes are also apt to glaze over. I’m tired, sleepy even, and I’ve already been inundated with media, no matter what the time of day.
Art has the ability to reach past the language (intellectual) part of the brain and go straight to the soul. And it is truly amazing what people tell me and other artists who serve in churches about what they “see” in the pieces of artwork. (This happens with music and dance, as well.) Sometimes, the artwork can set off a whole chain of thought that can bring about forgiveness or healing of some kind or peace about a situation. My firm belief is that it is God who is directing this phenomenon.
The 2 paintings I’m posting today are very recent (one from this weekend). Numerous conversations resulted from these works, valuable interactions. Ultimately, church is all about relationships. I think art makes possible communication and relationship on a deeper level.
Do you have experience with art that is spiritual in nature? I’d love to hear your thoughts.