Fragments of Light

Serving the Work

Biblical Landscape [By the Light of the Moon], Georges Rouault, circa 1940.
Biblical Landscape [By the Light of the Moon], Georges Rouault, circa 1940.

“Almost every definition I find of being a Christian is also a definition of being an artist.”—Madeleine L’Engle, Walking on Water, quoted in: Visual Faith: Art,Theology, & Worship in Dialogue, by William A. Dyrness

Drawing a parallel between the image of Christ as servant and how artists serve their work, William Dyrness comments: “To be sure, Jesus’ servanthood was unique, but the New Testament is clear that we should, both in mind and manner, model ourselves after him. Because of what he was, God’s servant, servanthood has taken on a new meaning. This meaning relates to Christians, of course, but it resonates in a special way with artists, for artists are called in a particular way to serve the created order. However creative they are, they can do nothing without making careful use of the sights and sounds into which they are born. All of us are embedded in this created order, according to Genesis 1, and we are called to have dominion over it, but this dominion is further defined in Genesis 2:15 in a way that has special relevance to artists. The man and the woman are to watch over the created order and care for it. However easily most people can forget this basic calling—especially with the ease of modem life—the artist cannot. Mathematicians and philosophers may live with ideas; the artist cannot live without the world of nighthawks and maple trees. Georges Rouault used to say that there is a child in every artist who treasures every object. He used to love to walk along strange streets while on vacation, pausing to peer intently into store windows, stopping to pick up discarded paper on the street. He was a servant of his physical environment. Touch, taste, sight, sound—through these senses the artist hears the call to servanthood. Artists serve by responding and collecting the most characteristic samples. In the person creation speaks; and a person speaks only in creation.”

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