I’m very excited that our church has just entered into a formal relationship with our resident artist and commissioned a large work to be displayed in the sanctuary. For far too long the church has been a wasteland for the visual arts. For most of us in the church any artistic endeavor outside of the musical arts has never been encouraged or even invited into the life of the congregation. We have choirs, bell choirs, organists, orchestras, praise bands and worship leaders. Yet for the most part the visual creativity is either CPH bulletin covers and/or PowerPoint slides.
Above is Hillary’s very early concept sketch of a large piece spanning 12 4′ x 5′ canvases. I think there is something simply good about the creation of art in the life of the church, not even art to be used in the church but simply going through the motions of creating some work on a blank page or canvass. To foster this Hillary has begun leading art instruction courses for our members so that they might simply do that – create. Thinking about the creative process calls to mind a great essay written by J.R.R. Tolkien titled “On Fairy Stories.”
While Tolkien’s main purpose is to describe the contours and purpose and viability of the creative writing known as a Fairy Tale he has much to say about our acts as “sub-creators.” Our art tells a story and that story of our creation can bring us to experience a turn of joy and wonder that echoes what he calls the “Great Eucatastrophe” – a sudden turn in the story where hope is found in hopelessness and life in the midst of death. So he says:
“The Birth of Christ is the eucatastrophe of Man’s history. The Resurrection is the eucatastrophe of the story of the Incarnation.”
So where our creating makes such a turn, when our stories grab hold not only of us in the creative process but also the ears and even the eyes of our neighbor, perhaps then we too are doing the work of an evangelist. Maybe it is time we welcomed creative production of man to help tell the story and then we might even dare to confess with Tolkien, “Art has been verified. God is the Lord, of angels, and of men—and of elves. Legend and History have met and fused.”
I’ll keep you updated as Hillary’s work continues to unfold.