A Question for Starters…

Many of you have probably heard me talking about the Contrast project/movement/organization in some form or fashion. Since today has not been my most productive day, I wanted to start this entire thing with a question to you all. Please, please, please comment an answer back. I will eventually post a more detailed description of what Contrast is all about. But here’s the question:

What do you think of when you hear the phrase “Christian Art”?

Maybe you’ve never thought about it. Perhaps you’ve seen a photo or painting in a store somewhere that comes to mind. Maybe you hate it. All answers are valid on this. Please indulge my ADDย curiosity.

~ by Josh Booth on August 25, 2008.

19 Responses to “A Question for Starters…”

  1. Why is it that my first instinct was to say “Thomas Kincade”!?!?

  2. something having to do with water…. there’s always a placid scene of some sort… a Biblical scene maybe… and yes, Thomas Kincaid!!

  3. christian art has many forms… but the first instinct… the gut feeling of christian art… is conservative, don’t want to be creative, and definitely not offensive to the parent of a 3 yr old. so… ‘nuf said.

    but we all know what i think. ๐Ÿ™‚
    love what you are doing and i hope to be a part of it!

  4. when i think of christian art… the first thing that comes to my mind is tacky christian t-shirt designs…or those distasteful paintings or photographs you see hanging on the walls of Lifeway Christian Bookstore … talk about embarrasing for the christian….and art community. words that describe this:

    inside the box. yuck. embarrassingly corney. not up with the times. outdated. unattractive. can i use the word–appalling?,
    “trying to mimic” the latest trends but fails to accomplish this with excellency.

    BUT. i need to have a disclaimer: i have seen some christian artists pull off exceptional work that’s attractive, communicates a powerful message, and draws me in. yet sadly, these tend to be the exception rather than the rule.

    let’s change that. love the vision. keep it up, josh!

  5. My first thought is classic art … da Vinci, Michelangelo, etc. Then my mind goes to the velvet Jesus Praying at the Garden picture that my parent’s had in our living room when I was a kid. Of course, that was next to the velvet Elvis. (What can I say, I’m a child of the 70’s)

  6. My first thought is that it is intentional…obviously art in general has meaning behind it, but when I hear this phrase it just seems more purposeful. It seems sometimes as though this goal of having art describe such a story is forced too much and not authentic.

  7. I think there isn’t enough original, quality Christian art out there…lots of rehashing of the same themes…I think of those framed, carboard-type pictures or the plaques with poems and super-shiny sealer with some token art(btw I’m a friend of Carrie’s who sent me a link to this…I’m curious to find out more)

  8. I think of every museum I’ve ever been to: paintings done hundreds of years ago; the last supper; chubby little angels; draping clothing; beards. And then there are the bible illustrations… a gentle looking jesus carrying a lamb (why is he usually white??), huge billowing clouds with rays of sunshine pouring out… maybe some people don’t consider that art at all ๐Ÿ˜‰

    I feel like I really haven’t seen a lot of Christian Art recently (perhaps I’m just uneducated in this field..) but, what I have seen is misrepresenting Christianity – it’s embarrassing, tacky, uneducated, fluffy, surreal, outdated…

    I guess I just disregard it all together.
    It evokes no response.

  9. My first thought is the HUGE wall of art in LifeWay. Something with a nice scene and a verse, maybe from Psalms, or something upbeat and encouraging from one of the Gospels. Or those pictures of the “Caucasian Jesus”…that are just so wrong. Or pictures of the crucifixion that so dumb down what our Lord actually went through for us…I mean, a crucifixion with no blood? Its all very encouraging, uplifting….shall I use the word “coddling” (is that how you spell that???). We want to feel good in our Christian life, and our art reflects that. But I think Christianity is more than “feeling good”….Jesus was a man of sorrows…but He had “joy set before Him”. He had joy in what was coming, but not probably joy in the now. Our art reflects the sad state that Christianity in America is… the “i just want to feel good and come to church once a week and say amen when the pastor says something convicting (but of course I’ll never live it through)….

    wow. i think i went overboard ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. I think of bible man, veggie tails, flannel board, Mexican lawn ornaments, long blond hair blue eyed white Jesus’ in a pure white robe with blue sashes. I think of children story picture bibles where all the smiling animals are happily tucked away by a smiling Noah and a smiling Daniel being thrown into a smiling lions den by a smiling King Nebuchadnezzar. I think of light towers and Psalm 23 happy sheep. I think of fish stickers on the back of soccer mom’s mini van’s. I think of little pointy red men with black beards and horns with pitch forks. I think of precious moment angels. I also think of T-bone and Christian rap (yuck!) But then I also think of Underoath and mewithoutyou ๐Ÿ™‚ (praise God for Underoath and mewithoutyou) I also am reminded of those billboards that used to be everywhere (I don’t know if they’re still out there) that were black with white letters like the God Milk ads that pretty much said “God hates you, stop being heathens” Lets see…I want to think of some more positives…I guess vegetales is kind of boarder line…that was actually a very original show…I’d watch those over sponge bob any day ๐Ÿ˜› umm? the bible? that is a pretty good piece of art…I LOVE stain glass windows so those are BEAUTIFUL but I also feel like they have been given a negative symbol of self righteous pride by the congregations who gather at places WITH beautiful stained glass windows.

    That’s all I feel like writing now and all that I can think of off the top of my mind right now ๐Ÿ˜› let me know if you want more ๐Ÿ˜‰

  11. The first thing I thought of were the art pieces that you find in Catholic churches: The saints with halos over their heads and Mary with Jesus… Depictions of the cross…Things like that.

  12. My first thought is lame pictures of a blonde haired softy Jesus. Just being honest. If you can break that mold in my mind I would be stoked.

  13. Christian Art. Well, my first thought is the sub-culture where “Christian” is the adjective – an adjective which says “now this is art done by Christians for Christians so don’t hold it to the same standard.”
    The Christian adjective numbs the effect of the noun it modifies.
    Christian Lawyer – Probably won’t do dirty law tricks, even if it will help you win a case
    Christian Mechanic – won’t rip you off, or at least you won’t question the $70 oil change too quickly
    Christian Musician – Talented enough to play in front of people, but juuuuuuust can’t make it in the “real world”

    So – Christian Artist/Art – something that makes Christians apologize if the secular world sees it, because it IS possible to lose perspective and totally confuse your audience with what you
    were trying to do.
    For instance:
    Child Bride Pedophile Jesus
    Sorcerer Jesus
    Bored Jesus
    Snob Jesus
    Really hating this time period Jesus
    Scary Phantom Jesus
    Thief Jesus
    Mirco-Manager Jesus
    Stoned Jesus

  14. hahahahahahahaha! those pictures are hilarious but I shouldn’t be laughing! am I a bad person?

  15. I’ve been thinking about this for months now on my own. I think it SHOULD be something beautiful and excellent, something that stops you in your tracks the way a good book or powerful song does. Transcendent, I suppose. I wish my own paintings could fall into that category!

  16. When I hear the word Christian Art I immediately think about art which is only limited to Christian thought or theology. I believe Christian art pigeon holds not only the artist but the viewer as well because the viewer will only see this in the context of Christian. I don’t believe this is always a bad thing but if you are an artist who uses this label then you are limiting yourself and your audience.

  17. I don’t give much thought to Christian Art, because it is kind of pathetic. It is a shame that Christians tend to differentiate with a ‘Christian label’ in mediums which would otherwise be appealing to a number of various crowds. If there is a beautiful painting of a dessert, which happens to be painted by a Christian painter, is that Christian art? or if there is a detailed and intense painting of Jesus on the cross by an agnostic painter, is that Christian art? if there is a opportunity to worship by being creative, whether by painting, singing or however, then that is personal, and classifying it and marketing it to a church going crowd doesn’t make it ‘christ-like’, which is what what the word ‘Christian’ supposedly implies. Calling anything ‘Christian’ puts walls and boundaries and expectations on it. Just because it reflects something biblical or moral does not make it Christian. or just because its controversial doesn’t make it secular. God created us to be creativce, in His image. It can be done with intentions to worship or to blaspheme. But Artwork it not christian. its just art.

  18. I’d say there are two parts to “Christian art” – explicit and implicit. The former includes those (usually) cheesy pictures that include a pale-skinned, blue-eyed Jesus or some angel hovering over a person. I’d put the Kincade pictures more on the implicit side – they can be viewed without religious context (although the artist might have meant for there to be one). Other examples of implicit works of Christian art could simply be a picture/painting/etc. depicting God’s creation or signifying His characteristics.

  19. Totally agree with you there Mark, and I admit that I had a good laugh looking at the pictures from Eric’s comment. They’re funny because your title for them is exactly how a non-Christian would see them, and they’re sad because those were real attempts from a “Christian” artist to express their faith in a compelling way. The problem with Christian art in today’s world is that it’s completely non-personal. Of all the thousands of “Jesus in the Garden” paintings that have been done since A.D. began, why would someone today think they need to add to the pile? You weren’t there…and besides, someone beat you to it a long time ago when they painted it. Audiences are more interested in what Jesus means to you, personally. Use metaphors for crying out loud! Use conepts! It’s a challenging thing to do because it requires that the artist have a deep relationship with Christ. It it’s not there, then it shows in the work.

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