Shall We Make Art or Advertisements?

August 25, 2010

What happened to Christian art?

They just don’t make Christian art like they used to, do they?  These days, Christian art is far more often silly, childish, or offensive than amazing.  That kind of saddens me.  Maybe not as many people are interested in depicting religious subjects.  Then again, maybe the Pope’s just not paying top dollar for Christian art like in the past.

Either way, our choices are fairly limited when it comes to modern Christian art, much like Christian music or Christian movies.  I’m not saying it’s all bad.  There’s plenty of talent out there.  I’ve looked for it and found it.  But if you don’t want a Thomas Kincaid painting, you may not know many other Christian artists working today.  Our choices are just few and far between.

Yet, every once in a while, a ray of hope glimmers for Christian art.

These images are a couple of years old, but they are fantastic.  The artists at The Glue Society created four images from the Bible as they may have appeared if Google Earth had captured them.  If you haven’t seen them, you need to check these out.  And they probably weren’t even created by Christians!

Moses leading the Hebrews across the Red Sea.

Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.

Noah’s Ark after the floodwaters began receding.

The crucifixion.  Tell me that’s not amazing.  Now, if only they had made an image of the armageddon.

Maybe churches need to quit trying to make clever advertisements and slogans for our marquee signs and start making art again.  Have you seen any good Christian art lately?  Is art in need of a revival, or do we have all the art we need in museums?

29 responses to Shall We Make Art or Advertisements?

  1. Matt,

    I have to admit that I am not an expert in art. I know very little actually but these pictures are amazing! I would love to, no make that proud, to have them on my wall! Certainly can’t say for all that passes for art. I also have no art to recommend although I do like Jack Terry. He is a western artist who I think is amazing. ‘Course given my art “eye” and talent some others may disagree. But I digress. I know there is a church in Terre Haute, IN (Maryland Community Church) that encourages art and even has a ministry for that. BTW: is there a way to get ahold of these art works?

  2. Those are very cool. There is lots of Christian art out there, but a lot of it either has a paint-by-numbers quality to it, or like Thomas Kinkade, men don’t seem to be the target audience. Christian art that appeals to men in definitely in need of a revival.

  3. I have apparently been under a rock and have not seen these before. They are totally frame-worthy and beautiful.

    PS – your blog is on fire these days! Awesome job, Matt.

  4. I love art. All kinds. But I haven’t seen any good Christian art at all, other than the older century pieces.

    The piece of Moses parting the red sea is awesome. I like the bird’s eye view on each of the pieces too.

    nicodemusatnite.blogspot.com

  5. I love the arts – I have a degree in music and 2 in art.

    We have a woman at church that occasionally paints during worship. I like some of her work.

    I love the paintings displayed here. You are correct; it has been some time since I have seen any great Christian themed art work. I do like some of the stained glass that was produced by the Glass Eye, and I know a couple of Christian artist that have some excellent paintings and illustrations. But it is a side-line.

    It seems the evangelical movement prefers Apple white decors to match their iPods.

    Look forward to seeing some links.

  6. I’m trying to not be a jerk and bring up the “what is Christian art” discussion, though it’s taking so much effort, I can hardly type the comment i do wish to leave…

    There’s actually an artist I discovered recently who does really wonderful stuff. He’s reading through the Bible and doing a depiction of some story/passage from each book. And they’re kinda awesome.

    Behold: http://jimlepage.com/word-designs/

  7. For contemporary Christian art, I pick Jaime Dominguez Montes.

  8. I’ve seen some good Christian art on occasion, but it never really gets a lot of press. There’s a megachurch nearby that included 4 huge (and pretty cool) pieces of art that were a sort of abstract art, but it was awesome. They used them for a 4-part sermon series and then auctioned them off for a charity or something. They were cool though.

    I think it’s out there. But COOL art isn’t what Family Christian Stores want to sell.

    • No, if Christian Crap Stores were interested in cool, they’d be selling The Underfold merchandise! :)

    • But they DO sell “Testamints” breathmints! Now THAT’S going to save some souls from the grip of the evil one! “Rid yourself of halitosis and gain eternal life!”

      Let’s get the Christian artisans a venue in the world to be seen outside the church!

      • Yeah, those have ALWAYS bugged me. I always say, “God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that we could have fresh breath.”

  9. Love these! I guess I’m a bit out of the loop, since our church has been using the top one in promos for our sermon series on Exodus and I didn’t realize it.

    I’ve seen some very good art by some very good Christian artists. The problem isn’t that Christian art isn’t being made; it’s that most Christian publicists aren’t interested because most Christians prefer to buy “Jesus is my American Idol” t-shirts. It’s a vicious cycle. And don’t get me (classically trained composer) started on CCM…

  10. Oh man, if there’s anything I want to see more of in the church, it’s creativity! Like anything mainstream, the church seems to have given up on encouraging creativity. I think art is one of those things that is considered too difficult to corporately worship with. Not everyone understands it or connects with the same piece the same way. It’s also not considered “productive” in a worldly sense.

    At my church there’s a stained glass window that the elders spent a TON of time designing. Not a single object or color in the window is without meaning, and it truly adds to the corporate worship of the congregation.

    I would love for a renaissance of religious art, architecture, music, and other things (maybe software?) to occur.

  11. I had seen the first two, but not the last two. Amazing! I could get behind a Christian art movement. We have to see the value in it and encourage those who have the gifting. One of the young women in our church just recently went to school for art and animation. I’m praying she’s going to change the world with her talent!

    This work definitely gives us some hope. Thanks Matt.

  12. Christian art is being made, it’s just not being distributed or showcased much beyond Church “coffee shops”. Besides worship music, which has remained a staple in the Christian Toolbox in some fashion, I don’t know that we really understand how powerful God-glorifying art can be.

  13. maybe some of the best religious art is the art that isn’t so overt in its message. I’d say the best Christian music is not praise and worship, at least for me.

  14. Hey Matt, I wanted to thank you for your feedback on my blog. I really like what you are doing with your blog. And yes, I totally agree with you on the art thing. I would love to see more modern Christian artists. I know a few amazing Christian artists my self, but again, they don’t have much exposure.

  15. There’s also a paucity of Christian Literature out there, and by Literature I don’t mean pamphlets. The best bit of Christian Lit. I can think of off hand is Gilead by Marilynne Robinson. I’m stumped to find anything else in the last 5 years or more.

  16. Those images are amazing. I have a friend who does amazing Graphic Design work that is Christian and does mostly Christian themed stuff. Here is the link to his blog: http://schleitheim.com/. I think the guy is so good, he did the cover work for my poetry book.

  17. Man, those are powerful pictures.

  18. Ed Knippers. May not be to everyone’s taste, but excellent artist.

  19. One of the campus ministries at my college had a wonderful art ministry. They decorated the chapel with all the fantastic stuff people painted/drew. I wish they had some of the stuff online. I paint for funsies, and most of the stuff I paint is Jesus-themed.

  20. Here’s an article that may spark your interest on this subject, Matt:

    http://www.qideas.org/blog/the-creativity-crisis.aspx

  21. You raise such a great point here. I completely agree that Christianity today needs more good art. Churches often feature splashy ad copy, abstract wackiness, or 1970s leftover folkiness. There’s a lot of sappy kitsch out there too.

  22. I said this on another blog as well, I am SO tired of crappy, copycat Christian t-shirts! They drive me insane! Do we not have ONE ounce of originality?