Sacred and Secular in Union on Sundays: Constructing a renewed reality

Yesterday I received a great comment for my photography at the artshow case I participated in. One of my visitors said, “Your art is so pretty. So much of the stuff I see is grim and about death”. Why would I think of this as a complement? He didn’t say your art is so emotive or powerful or moving but that it was pretty. I don’t think he was saying that my art was trite. What I think that he was saying was that my art stressed beauty.

One of the things that I find in most modern art is that it is “grim” and about “death”. There seems to be a focus on being shocking and vulgar and in your face about it. There is an emphasis on deconstructing everything. I  guess in a world where you don’t have a belief or hope in God much of the world is broken, hurtful, vulgar and destructive so it makes sense that artists would be drawn to point this reality out. Yet as a follower of Christ I believe that we trust in a God who redeems, renews and recreates life out of brokenness.

Paul, one of the writers of the scriptures says, “So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all for the glory of God.” Often we hear this verse quoted within the context of how we are to act in our jobs and the answer seems to be work hard, do good work and have integrity. These are all true things but there has to be more to it when we read these words of Paul. How do we live this out as artists?

I’m drawn back to contrast between deconstructing life and constructing a reality that exlemplifies that redeeming, renewing, recreating reality that is essential to who God is and what he does in fulfilling his promises. With that in mind one of my goals is to create art that displays that redeeming, renewing and life creating hope that comes from Jesus life, death and resurrection. For me as a landscape/seascape photographer that means that I showcase beauty. It also means that I want to create images that point out a transcendent reality that a creative, loving and transforming God is at work. Nature declares his glory. Nature displays the goodness of his creation and his power to create life out of brokenness. So when I hear “your art is pretty” I do believe it is a great complement because it reveals that I have been true to my vocation as an artist who has trusted in a redeeming, renewing and saving God.

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