We have a facination with origin stories. There is a trend in movies recently to show the origins of our favorite super heros. We have Batman Begins, Wolverine story from the X-men, Iron Man, The Hulk, Thor and Captain America. We want to learn the back story about our favorite characters. What makes them who they are and the things in their past that shape their actions in the future.
The Bible gives us its own origin stories in Genesis. We see the call and development of Abraham and through it what God is doing in his plan of creating a people for himself. Even before that we have the origin story of man in the first 10 chapters of Genesis. It shows what man was created to be like, what his relationship with his creator is supposed to be like. Then we see the origin of our brokeness and failures. These are patterns that repeat over and over again.
Even in the midst of the origin story of man we see a greater origin story. It is the story of God and his relationship to his world and of his crowning creation man. The Bible opens with this refrain:
In the beginningGod createdthe heavensand the earth.Now the earth was formlessand empty,darkness was over the surface of the deep,and the Spirit of Godwas hoveringover the waters. And God said,“Let there be light,” and there was light.
The first thing that God reveals is that God is a creator. He makes the heavens and the earth. He brings order out of chaos. He brings light into a place that is formless and empty. As the chapter unfolds we see him bringing beauty and provision as he is preparing his world for his most significant creation man. All of his creation of the earth is creating a place beautifully and made to sustain and provide for humans. So not only do we see that God creates but he creates it to provide and sustain for us. His creation is an act of beauty but even greater than that it is an act of love. It is an act of provision.
He creates man in his image and gives us the task of bearing his image. We are made to first be dependent on his provision for us and to trust in his love for us. Then the next thing we are made to be is reflections of his creativeness and love to each other and to his creation as a whole.
This is an amazing calling and task. As an artist this shapes heavily my view of what my calling as an artist is. By my very act of creating I am showing what God is like and what he first reveals of himself in Genesis. He is a creator.
I often get discouraged because so much of modern art is chaotic and vulgar. It seems to shock and deconstruct our world. It points out the brokenness and doesn’t give us much hope. At one level I get this because our world is messed up but yet it wasn’t always this way and I’m convinenced this isn’t the way it is supposed to be. I am certain that God through Jesus intends to make things right and to create beauty and provide hope and redemption in the midst of our brokenness. Because of these things, I believe that we need to have specific ideas that reveal what God is like when we create art.
I spend a lot of time thinking about what is important to me as I compose my photographs. When I create I want to show what he has been up to since the beginning. This is an important reality to me. I want my photographs to show beauty because that is the world God makes and I believe still provides for us. I want to have unity in my im and not discord in my work because God brings forth order out of chaos. His creation isn’t random instead it was done intentionally and it was done to provide. I want my images to be transcendent because it should point to something greater than myself it should point to God. Lastly I want all my images to be iconic. I want them to be memorials to the beauty and provision that shapes how God reveals himself as creator.