Christian Art?

I met with an old friend (as in someone I’ve been friends with for ages not that he is old) I haven’t seen in years today.  Clive was a student of mine, then a colleague for a while, then someone who’s band I booked and told people about and then we lost touch.  Facebook to the rescue!

We met, interestingly, at Edinburgh’s National Gallery of Modern Art.  I say interestingly because Clive now works for UCCF working with students around issues of art and theology and culture.  We got talking about the Christian artistic ghetto and the oddity that is contemporary christian music (CCM).

I have to say I’ve never understood CCM.  It is a niche marketing ploy as far as I’m concerned, usually by people who aren’t good enough to cut it in the real music business.  Harsh?  I don’t think so.

Why do ‘Christian’ artists, not just musicians but lots of artists too, feel the need to explain their work?  Surely as soon as you start to explain art it looses some of it’s transcendent quality.  Surely if art is too obvious it becomes bland and less than engaging.

There are some great artists out there who have faith and live in the world and write, sing and paint their world without sticking a fish or a cross on everything so people know it is ok to buy it.  I like to think.  I like to be drawn in, challenged, moved and engaged by art.  That is what art is for.  If it does any of those things then surely that is good art and it will speak to me of God because God is in the world that art depicts.

And Edinburgh… when will you stop charging for entry to galleries?  Art is for everyone and we have paid for it already through our taxes!  Follow Glasgow and London and make entry FREE!

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5 Responses to Christian Art?

  1. Russell says:

    Great lesser-known musicians who weave their faith into their art:
    Over the Rhine
    Kendall Payne

  2. brooksee says:

    i agree with what you’re saying one hundred percent. but its ashame that often when christian artists take this stance with their work, they are accused(by fellow christians) of hiding or being ashamed of their faith. Simply because its not right out there in the open. but yeah, i love what you’re saying, i myself listen to alot of positive hardcore music where alot of the bands are christian but aren’t excactly in your face about it. And unfortunately they get slammed for it. Its difficult to argue this point with alot of christians. I think we need to be open minded enough to accept genuine creativity and also consider alternative methods of sharing one’s faith.

  3. Stewart says:

    Thanks for stopping by brooksee and good to see Russell is still alive and surfing! I think I’ve probably mentioned this before but I love U2. I like that I can listen to the same album as someone with no faith and get something completely different from the same song. That, to me, is the value of art.

  4. Russell says:

    Yes, Stewart, U2 will always be at the top of my list too!
    I just felt the need to mention some well-deserving artists who go under the radar. Hahaha, maybe they need some grumpy christianizers complaining at them…

  5. bclc says:

    I agree whole-heartedly with what you are (all) saying (except for the bits about U2 – sorry).
    To my mind this has a lot to do with labels. Some artists get labelled as this or that and justifiably don’t appreciate it. Other artists are happy to label themselves in the hope that they will attract a certain following.
    I, like you, want to be challenged by art, to hear or see or feel how someone depicts something and then to work out my own repsonse.
    Singing about how great God is or how much you love Jesus to a rock backing track is all very well in it’s place (as long as I am in another place) but my general response is “so what?”.
    As for who is top of my list, Bob Dylan makes me think, Interpol make me smile and, as a guitarist myself, Jimi Hendrix makes me very very jealous.

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