Fragments of Light

Monthly Archives: July 2015

The Work of Art Making

Art is one way for men and women to respond to the Lord’s command to cultivate the earth, to praise his Name. Art is neither more nor less than that. Art, christianly conceived, is not something esoteric. Art is no more special (nor less special) than marriage and prayer and fresh strawberries out of season. Like acrobatics and careful thought and running a business well, artistry takes training. It is more difficult than falling off a log. To sing with modulated tones, controlled breathing, and fine phrasing, or to take shopworn words and cast them into the necklace of a sonnet form and make them fresh again, or to walk across a stage and slump on the ground in such a way that every eye is struck by the despair cursing the person: all that takes special gifts and knowledge of execution. But art is not, therefore, suddenly mysterious or supernatural.
—Calvin Seerveld, Rainbows for the Fallen World

Reflecting on art making as gifted work—work given as a gift, the philosopher, Calvin Seerveld, offers a biblical perspective on art making. Viewing the work of making art as something akin to our human calling to fill and cultivate the earth, this is work with which it becomes possible to offer up praise, search out beauty, or pique the complacent conscience. Seerveld suggests that art, under the tutelage of the Holy Spirit, be “cradled from the start in a singular affirmation of creation and its fulness as belonging to the Lord, of sin as a waste God hates, of present redemption possibilities and a future judging reconciliation of things back to God so that viewers may look and read and sing through their tears.”
Comments welcome.