LeAnne Martin
Christians in the Arts

Monday, April 30, 2007

Jeffrey Overstreet: Echoes of Glory in the Movies

This week my guest is Jeffrey Overstreet, author of the new book Through a Screen Darkly: Looking Closer at Beauty, Truth and Evil in the Movies. Jeffrey calls upon a decade of experience as a film reviewer and columnist for his popular website, www.lookingcloser.org. He is a weekly columnist and critic at Christianity Today’s movie website, and his perspectives are regularly published in Risen and Seattle Pacific University’s Response magazine. His work has also appeared Image: A Journal of the Arts and Religion and Paste, and he frequently speaks about the arts at Seattle Pacific, in churches and on radio talk shows around the U. S. His film reviews were celebrated in a front-page feature of The Seattle Times’ Sunday magazine (Pacific Northwest), and his work has been noted in Time Magazine. He and his wife, Anne, a poet, can be found writing in the coffee shops of Shoreline, Washington.

LeAnne: You have said that you feel compelled to “sit down between Christian culture and secular society, trying to help them understand each other—and ultimately, God—better through a shared experience of art.” (I applaud you, by the way.) Why do you have this compulsion?

It’s a passion that developed after a lot of frustrating experiences within various Christian communities. As I grew up, I found that most of the Christians I encountered had harsh, judgmental attitudes about the movies, and had a very low opinion about the people who make them. The stuff coming out of Hollywood was to be avoided at all costs.

This prevailing attitude had a damaging influence on me. It taught me to believe that movies were almost all corrupt, evil, “unclean” entertainment that I should avoid. But my love of great storytelling contradicted this. My curiosity about the stories being told by filmmakers overcame my fears. As I began seeing more and more movies, discovering more and more meaningful stories in theaters, I felt embarrassed of how I had been led into a spirit of condemnation, suspicion, and fear by my own brothers and sisters in Christ. And I felt guilty for the way I had contributed to that condemnation. I wanted other believers to discover the wonder of the big screen, to learn from all kinds of movies — whether uplifting or troubling.

At the same time, I have encountered the same kind of suspicion, fear, and condemnation among many unbelievers whenever they talk about Christians. I know that there are many irresponsible, hard-hearted Christians out there — I have to struggle to avoid fulfilling that negative stereotype myself. But I also know that many Christians are humble, selfless, loving people. And I am convinced that true Christian faith will not be shaken by the misbehavior of foolish churchgoers. When our neighbors attack Christian misbehavior, they often use that as an excuse to reject God. But that’s just an excuse. Christian misbehavior does not tarnish God himself — it just makes the church seem like a false and unpleasant place to be.

I think that the movies… and all kinds of art… give us the opportunity to humble ourselves, learn from each others’ experiences and perspectives, and move past those rash judgments into greater understanding. Movies like Saved! and Deliver Us from Evil can humble Christians and cause them to remember their own fallibility. But movies like Dead Man Walking and Sophie Scholl: The Final Days and Chariots of Fire and A Man for All Seasons show us the powerful influence of devoted believers. I talk about this in great detail in Through a Screen Darkly, because there are so many powerful films about faith and the behavior of believers.

LM: I’m sure that as a movie reviewer for Christianity Today’s movie website as well as your own website, you get a lot of feedback from readers. What do you say to people who question the idea that God can use movies for His kingdom?

I remind them of several things.

First, that Christ loved to teach through powerful storytelling. He did not explain “the moral of the story” afterward — he told powerful, controversial, even subversive stories, and then let the listeners ponder them. There are a lot of flimsy, forgettable stories on the big screen, but there are powerful, truthful stories as well. When we reject movies because they might have some potentially offensive material, we often miss out on amazing stories.

Second, I remind them that the Bible itself is full of colorful stories about sin and consequences. Alongside the inspiring Bible stories we read to our children, we find dark, troubling, violent stories that are more appropriate for an adult audience. Stories about gross sexual misbehavior. Stories about unimaginable wickedness. What’s important is that we learn to be discerning readers, to consider the context, the choices and the consequences of the characters.

Likewise, the movie theater offers all kinds of stories. Some are lurid and full of lies, and we should definitely learn to avoid such garbage. But others are true and beautiful. Some of the best movies will make us uncomfortable with vivid depictions of evil, and yet the truth of those depictions can be redemptive.

Third, movies made all over the world help us see the world through the eyes, and through the imaginations, of the neighbors that Christ exhorts us to love. By learning to understand how they see the world, and listening to their experiences of life, we learn how to understand them, and hopefully how to love them better. If we can’t listen to our neighbors’ stories, how will we ever engage them in a meaningful way?

Finally, I believe the Bible’s claim that “eternity is written in our hearts.” If God made all of us in his image, then his truth will shine through, even in the movies made by people who don’t believe in him. The longing for healing, the desire for beauty and truth, and conflict of good versus evil… if we pay close attention, we’ll find echoes of glory in many of these “worldly” stories. And if we’re humble, we may find that Christians themselves have a lot to learn from their neighbors…as much as our neighbors have to learn from us.

On Thursday, Jeffrey will discuss several movies and talk about two Christians in Hollywood to watch.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Me--Just for Fun

You may have noticed that I don’t include much information about myself on my blog or in my posts. That’s because I’d rather put the focus on the people I feature. A friend of mine turned the tables on me, however, and featured me on her blog. Her name is Crystal Miller. Crystal's blog has a nostalgic, homey feel with a fun sense of humor. She’s doing a series on writers and their childhoods, and yesterday was my turn. I had a lot of fun answering her questions. Here’s the link if you’re interested:


Next week, I'll be talking to reviewer Jeffrey Overstreet about Hollywood.

Monday, April 23, 2007

About Art, Writing, and Living

For today’s post, I’m sharing some favorite quotations about art, writing, and living. Hope they inspire you today.

As an artist, you have the job of working out whatever is given you to work out.
--Robert Hass

Art is a collaboration between God and the artist, and the less the artist does the better.
--Andre Gide

We can't take any credit for our talents. It's how we use them that counts.
--Madeleine L'Engle

All writing is a form of prayer.
--John Keats

A poet is, before anything else, a person who is passionately in love with language.
--W.H. Auden

I write with intensity, discipline and constancy, because this is the work that calls me, the vocation of my heart.
--bell hooks

Personal essayists converse with the reader because they're already having dialogues and disputes with themselves.
--Phillip Lopate

Find a subject you care about and which you in your heart feel others should care about. It is this genuine caring, not your games with language, which will be the most compelling and seductive element in your style.
--Kurt Vonnegut

Strong lives are motivated by dynamic purposes.
--Kenneth Hildebrand

Never lose a holy curiosity.
--Albert Einstein

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Adele Mulford, Part 2: Balancing the Dynamics of Design

Today I’m concluding my interview with Adele Mulford, the art director for Discipleship Journal. Although Adele has a degree in advertising, magazine design has been her passion for the past 11 years. She has worked with several Christian publications, including Moody Magazine, Family Life Today, the Beacon, and Worldwide Challenge. Her designs have been recognized by Print, Society of Publication Designers, and the Evangelical Press Association.

LeAnne: You have a column in every issue of Discipleship Journal called “ArtTalk.” What do you write about?

“ArtTalk” is a way in which we try to engage our readers on a deeper level with the artwork. Good artwork (and design) has a story behind it. Perhaps we will tell them about the artist who created a particular piece. Or how a piece was created. Maybe there is an interesting story about the design process for a particular story or a visual puzzle that had to be solved. It’s always my hope that we can give our readers a glimpse into the “back story” of the artwork. This builds their understanding of the artwork, thus helping them to then build a connection to the artwork. In many ways, it’s simply a way to educate them and teach them how to see artwork as a tool for their spiritual growth.

LM: What piece of art has prompted the most discussion with readers? Why do you think that was the case?

It’s funny you ask. We’ve had two recent issues that prompted a lot of feedback from readers. The first one was a series of articles about Redemption (November/December 2006). Instead of assigning specific articles or concepts to illustrate (which is how I usually direct the art), I commissioned several Christian artists to meditate on the idea of redemption and then create a fine art piece. It felt scary to totally release my control on the outcome of the art. But the results were amazing. It was wonderful to see how God spoke to each of their hearts uniquely. In turn, I heard from several readers about the powerful impact the artwork had on them. I think that these pieces were unique because the artists had total freedom to create something from their hearts, and our readers seemed to recognize the inspiration behind these pieces. In an ideal world, I would love to see more of our artwork originate from this kind of hands-off approach, but unfortunately, that’s not the reality of magazine design.

The second issue was very recent: January/February 2007. The cover and theme section of this issue was about sex. Since the editorial approach was very honest and straightforward, I felt that the artwork should also echo that approach. I wanted to go beyond the usual vague images that are often the “Christian” approach to discussing sex. I thought a lot about Song of Solomon and God’s unabashed poetry of love. It’s beautiful and passionate, but with a holy purity. So, when I commissioned the artist, Jane Mjolsness, to create the art, I asked her to not be afraid to show the beauty and intimacy of God’s design for sex. Her artwork was so breathtaking, honest, and tastefully done. I loved the cover in particular, which showed a simple line drawing of a man and woman embracing and kissing on a warm red background. Where their lips connect, a warm glow of yellow emanates. I found it to be an incredibly lovely image. However, sex is a hot-button topic, and therefore we had some readers who reacted strongly against the artwork. In fact, a major bookstore chain actually yanked it from their shelves and sold it from behind the counter. We were shocked. In retrospect, I can see that it’s virtually an impossible task to create visuals about sex that would please the masses. And in spite of some negative reactions, we had many readers who said they really loved how the issue turned out.

LM: With a degree in advertising, how did you end up in magazine design?

Oddly enough, I started out studying interior architecture in college but then switched to advertising. I planned to be an art director at some big ad agency, but it took only one summer’s internship to change my mind! My first job was with NavPress (the same company that publishes DJ) where I designed book covers. The former Art Director of DJ needed someone to design one issue for her, so I took a stab at trying magazine design. I fell in love with it immediately. So I moved to Virginia to work for a Christian design firm that did a lot of magazines and gained a lot of experience there. But I’ve always had a heart for DJ. So, when they called me a few years ago and asked me to join their team, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity!

I love that magazine design is a balance of word and image, structure and expression, functionality and beauty. Balancing those dynamics to create a publication that communicates effectively is a process I greatly enjoy.

In my personal life, I am finally finding the courage to try and learn an art form. I’ve spent so many years working with great artists that I find myself being a heavy-handed critic in my own work. Learning to let go of perfectionism and allow my self to relax and enjoy the process has been a challenge for me. Presently, I’m learning oil painting (I’ve always used acrylics before), and hope to take a ceramics class soon!

Monday, April 16, 2007

Adele Mulford: Gently Bringing Understanding

I’ve been a subscriber to Discipleship Journal (www.navpress.com/dj.asp) for years. I have always appreciated DJ's approach and attention to the art in its pages. Along with excellent editorial content, the art draws me in and keeps me signing up every year.

Today and Thursday of this week, I’m featuring the Art Director of
Discipleship Journal, Adele Mulford.

LeAnne: Discipleship Journal has long led the field of Christian magazines in employing art in an intentional way. Why is art important to the magazine?

DJ’s mission is to help our readers grow in Christ, and our editorial team works hard to support that objective. I believe it’s also important that the visuals in the magazine should also work to inspire and enrich our readers in their walk with Christ. It’s not just my mission to make the pages of the magazine look pretty, or vaguely support the idea in the article, but they should speak to the heart, mind, and spirit of our readers. Thankfully, our whole magazine staff has embraced this idea, and we share a mutual enjoyment of the artwork in the magazine. So, our magazine continues to make choices that reinforce the visual mission of the magazine. It’s fun and liberating to work in an environment like that.

LM: Who are some artists you’ve worked with?

I work with a few Christian artists I really love:

Makoto Fujimura is amazing: www.makotofujimura.com

I also love Nicora Gangi: www.machairastudio.com. [LeAnne’s Note: I featured Nicora two weeks ago. See her interview on April 2nd and 5th.]

Michael Lontenero, who is represented by Scott Hull: www.scotthull.com

Scott Laumann is a wonderful artist: www.scottlaumann.com

Matthew Baek, who is represented by Donna Rosen: www.donnarosenartists.com

Suzy Schultz. She does gorgeous watercolor.

LM: What has been the response of readers through the years to the art?

It’s interesting to see the variety of responses we get. I’ve designed for Christian magazines for over a decade, and I am still surprised at the resistance I’ve sometimes seen amongst fellow believers in embracing the idea that visual art is a worth the effort. We’ve had readers tell us that wasting money on artwork in the magazine is poor stewardship. We’ve had readers tell us that they don’t care at all about the visuals and wonder why we put an emphasis on it. I recall a reader who told us that she would prefer the magazine without visuals at all (which I find hard to believe).

I can understand why artwork can create tension amongst our viewers. Sometimes, the purpose of artwork is to provoke thought or to agitate a person out of complacency. So the power of artwork can feel threatening at times. I think that some Christians have observed the negative aspect of this and therefore are quick to place all art in the same category. I can sympathize with that kind of perception. I believe in harnessing the power of artwork for telling the Good News and believe that God has a heart for recapturing the arts for His glory. My hope is that I can gently bring our readers alongside this path toward understanding the gift of the visual arts.

Thankfully, many of our readers do catch the vision of our love and support of the arts. I’ll occasionally get letters from a reader that talks about how a particular piece of artwork spoke to them, and that really makes my day!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Alice Bass, Part 2: Believer-Artists

I’m talking with Alice Bass (http://www.thfairfax.blogspot.com), actress, script-writer, creative consultant and author of The Creative Life: A Workbook for Unearthing the Christian Imagination.

LeAnne: On Monday I asked why Christians sometimes fear their own creativity. Now let me add to that another question: why do we fear creativity in others?

I think there is a distinction in fearing someone else’s creativity and fearing art. I don’t distrust art (any of the arts – film, literature, music, fine art, etc.) as a medium for expression. I think for many years we’ve created a culture in which Christians fear art. But art is like money – in itself it is not evil, it is the misuse of it which is destructive.

That said, fearing someone else’s creativity can be a valid concern – I know how I’ve been affected by movies or music or literature that has unexpected darkness or ugliness in it. It’s hard for me to shake that. Our imaginations can easily be imprinted, so for me, I guard my imagination and know the limits of what I can take in and what I can’t. I can take a Mel Gibson movie with violence and language but I have trouble with movies and literature that have a great deal of despair. So I guard my heart and mind in Christ Jesus, and choose wisely what I read or watch. I find artists whom I trust, and follow their work. By trusting, I mean I trust them not to hijack me with something ugly without preparing me for it.

LM: What would you say to artists who may be afraid or may not have the confidence to take risks necessary to pursue their art?

I’ve been asking people to consider using a new term lately. Instead of Christian artist, I’m saying that I am a believer-artist. Is Bono a Christian Artist? Well, certainly. But not all of his work has a Christian content. The same goes for Patricia Heaton, Rene Russo, Mel Gibson--these are people who’ve professed their belief and have created art. Sometimes it is Christian art as in Gibson’s The Passion and Heaton producing Amazing Grace. Sometimes their work is not Christian in content, as in Apocalypto or Everybody Loves Raymond but even in those pieces you can see the choices they make being influenced by their beliefs.

I think changing the way we look at ourselves will give artists more freedom to follow God into creating all sorts of art work, be it Christian in content or not. If we make a culture shift in how we refer to ourselves, that will widen the circle and suddenly our work that was formerly considered a risk because it was ‘secular’ will not be seen as so ‘risky’. I hope that believer-artists will be able to do work that speaks to the culture and to the Church.

Regardless of what kind of art you do or whether your creativity is used in your child rearing or in your vocation or your relationships, we must take the risk of being creative. By nature we are creative, even if we don’t use that gift. I think it is more risky to refuse a gift from God, don’t you?

LM: Yes, I agree: it certainly is. You mentioned the Church earlier. What can the Church do to encourage believer-artists?

With new technology, churches are starting to incorporate graphic arts, video and other media into their culture and worship and that is a good way to encourage artists to use their gifts in the Church. I think that adopting a mindset of supporting the believer-artist would be important. If we only support Christian content in art we’ll limit our ability to reach out to the culture.

To really embrace the arts and artists as the Church we must remember that art is not good or evil in itself. The way we can have an impact is in equipping the artists -- serving them in their faith and building them up in the knowledge and love of the Lord.

Artists need a lot of care and comfort, whether we support their particular expression of art or not. All artists face a tremendous amount of rejection, criticism and competition, almost daily. If we as the Church could care for artists in such a way that they felt loved and supported, their art would grow in grace and beauty. If we offer to equip and strengthen the artist in the ways of God, then the artist can grow in confidence and godliness.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Alice Bass: Imagination a Rich Gift

Alice Bass is a writer, creative consultant and award-winning actress living in Orlando, Florida. Called “The Great and Good Philosopher of Arts and Faith” by Act One’s Barbara Nicolosi, Bass works with artists to coach their creativity and business professionals to develop their brand. A graduate of Rollins College and a member of Actor’s Equity she has performed in professional theaters across the U.S. Her scripts can be found at Dramaministry.com and you can visit her blog for essays on creativity and culture at http://www.thefairfax.blogspot.com.

I’m talking with Alice today about her book,
The Creative Life: A Workbook for Unearthing the Christian Imagination.

LeAnne: I like the subtitle of your book. Why does the Christian imagination need unearthing? How did it get buried in the first place?

I’m so glad you like the subtitle! Cindy, my editor and I worked very hard to discover it. On a practical level I wanted readers to know it was a Bible study, but also a creativity workbook. My editor and I were tossing around ideas and she asked me, “What do you want people to take away from The Creative Life?”

And I just exploded with all the passion I had for this mission God has given me: “I want people to dig into the Bible, discover what God says about creativity, and unearth their own imaginations in the process.”

Well, Cindy got so excited she practically hung up on me, “I’ll be right back,” and click. A half hour later she called me with what she’d crafted from my thoughts, A Workbook for Unearthing the Christian Imagination.

So, it was a very personal, individual idea, something that I needed in my life and for my creativity. Each person (artist, Christian, man or woman) has an imagination that is buried, initially under the Fall. Then our experience teaches us to hide or ignore or compromise our creativity. So freeing our imagination is essential for each of us. Whether you are an artist or not, you have an imagination and it should be such a rich gift to you in your daily life.

As a Christian, your imagination should be a place of blessing. Not only is it a gift from the Creator in His image but Christ, through whom all things are made and in whom all things hold together, Christ has redeemed your imagination. Your creativity can be a place of communion with Him! The thing to do is to experience His Lordship in and through that gift.

LM: Why did you write this book?

When I wrote it, there was almost nothing available on the subject of ‘What does God say about creativity?’ There were several great books for artists, among them Art and the Bible by Francis Schaeffer and Walking on Water by Madeleine L’Engle. I felt a need for this distinction between creativity and art because of my experience both in the theater and in ministry. In my life as a professional artist other actors would come to me and say, “I wish I could believe but then I’d have to give up my creativity.” Then at church people would stop me and say, “Oh, I wish I was creative like you.”

Neither perspective made sense to me. It seemed to me that if God is the Creator, he loves artists and longs to endow them with even more creativity. And for the Christian, I really believed that when Christ, the Word of God, was invited into a heart...well, creativity would definitely be one of the results! I also thought that if God was the Creator then everyone, artist or not, was creative. So I set about finding this out for myself by going through God’s Word. The more I discovered, the more I wanted someone to write a book that would be a tool for the believer-artist that would encourage them in their faith and work, giving them reasons why they believe. And I wanted a tool for the Christian to see that they are creative whether they are artists, homemakers, realtors, or missionaries.

LM: Why do Christians fear creativity in themselves?

I think everyone has fears about creativity because it comes from such a vulnerable place in us. Even if you’re just keeping your creativity to yourself, there is a level of fear because a creative idea can lead you down a new path. So creativity is risky for the one offering the idea and scary if you are on the receiving end too. Have you ever sat in a movie theater and thought, “I have no idea where this is going?” That kind of creativity as the audience member has an exhilaration and a tension to it.

For the Christian our relationship to our creativity is very tender. We are renewing our minds and desiring to do as it says in Galatians—think on things that are lovely and pure and beautiful. I think that having our creativity redeemed means that Christ will get in there and root out all the dark stuff from our imaginations. I’ve found that redeeming work is often done by God after I’ve said something terrible or done something hurtful. So it is with my ideas—they might be messy in their raw state and bringing them under God’s authority will separate the wheat from the chaff and that can be quite a delicate operation.

More from Alice Bass about creativity on Thursday.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Nicora Gangi, Part 2: The Artist's Calling

Today I'm concluding my interview with artist and professor Nicora Gangi (www.machairastudio.com).

LeAnne: What would you say to encourage other artists who happen to be Christians?

A Christian artist should not be caught up in producing an evangelical tract- therefore failing to produce a work of art. Many Christian artists haven't made good art because they have only been concerned with the evangelical tract.

God made the world beautiful –so don't reduce creation to just a message about God but also see it as beautiful. It is for Christians to show what is meant by life and humanity and to express what it means for them to have been 'made new' in Christ in every aspect of their being.

The artist with his special gifts has a specific task, a very special and wonderful calling. It is to make life better, more worthwhile to create the sound, the shape, the tale, the decoration, the environment, that is meaningful and lovely and a joy to mankind.

How is the Christian artist to fulfill this role and to work out these norms? It is a calling to promote good and to fight evil, ugliness, the negative; to hunger and thirst for righteousness; to search for the right 'finishing touch,' the right tone, the right word in the right place.

To respond to our calling today means that we shall not be afraid to show that we are Christians, not only in saying that we have been saved by Christ but also in our stand, in our way of life, in our prophetic analysis of the situation. This means that we shall never compromise, never accept the status quo because that is the easiest thing to do or seems inevitable. It means to be radical—to go back to the roots to the very foundation, which is Christ. To be Christian involves all our work and activity, understanding that there is nothing neutral, nothing apart from Christ's reign.

"We have confidence before God, and we receive from him whatever we ask because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him" (I John 3:21, 22).

Monday, April 02, 2007

Nicora Gangi: For Such a Time as This

Nicora Gangi (www.machairastudio.com) is committed to creating art that invites viewers to enter into a visual dialogue with pastel still life and landscapes that reflect a Christian aesthetic. Born in Indiana in 1952 she was educated at the Hartford Art School (Hartford, Connecticut), Montclair State College, and Syracuse University (BFA and MFA). Her fields include both fine arts and art education. She is on the faculty at Syracuse University in the Studio Arts and Design Programs. She is married to artist Bruce Manwaring and resides in Syracuse, NY.

LeAnne: Tell me about your journey as an artist who happens to be a Christian and how your work reflects your faith.

First let me start with a quote I love from chapter one of Francis A. Schaeffer’s book, How Should We Then Live?: “There is a flow to history and culture. This flow is rooted and has its wellspring in the thoughts of people. People are unique in the inner life of the mind—what they are in their thought-world determines how they act. This is true of their value systems and it is true of their creativity. It is true of their corporate actions, such as political decisions, and it is true of their personal lives. The results of their thought-world flow through their fingers or from their tongues into the external world. This is true of Michelangelo’s chisel, and it is true of a dictator’s sword.”

Soon after I became a Christian, I attended a presentation by a young artist. Prior to this meeting, my husband, who also is an artist, and I had many discussions about using our talents in the church. We were reading works by H.R. Rookmaaker and Francis Schaeffer. We struggled with the fact that the church we had recently joined, the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America, no longer found it biblically correct for arts to be used in the worship service. This denomination originated in Scotland and was influenced by the iconoclasts of the Reformation in Europe. Much of the art in the churches was destroyed because of its association with the Roman Catholic Church. The reformer wanted no trace of its influence in the new buildings. “God is good at saving souls, but we have tended to keep him away from our big decisions in scholarship, science, art, politics and so on” (H.R. Rookmaaker, Art Needs No Justification, pg. 24). We asked many questions of our fellow Christians; however we were not getting any answers, let alone direction.

That evening we sat and listened to the speaker read Romans 12:1-2. “I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect” (NAS).

After he finished reading from this passage, he held up one of his paintings. With this example before us, we knew our work could be a living and holy sacrifice acceptable to God. We understood that we did not have to abandon our talents for the new life in Christ. Our talents were meant for God and his glory. Rookmaaker clarified this further: “As the body moves, thinks, speaks not for its own sake but called by God to be the salt of the earth, artists are not just servants of a Christian subculture, but are called to work for the benefits of all” (Art Needs No Justification, pg 21).

I began thinking about works I had been drawing and printing. Those same images could have a new depth of meaning. Since then, I have devoted my life to studying the scriptures and understanding the metaphors God uses to teach his people.

Many biblical references have become completely incomprehensible to the present generation. Since the Bible is the bedrock of what Christians believe, I aim to help Christians and non-Christians focus on the scriptures through my still life and landscape drawings. Not every drawing may appear religious in nature, but every work symbolizes how Jesus Christ died for our sins so that we may have access to God.

This method of religious symbolism in artwork is nothing new. Early Christians saw God in everything. They attached religious and spiritual meaning to all they observed. Renaissance artists wove elaborate complicated allegories into their pictures. Still life painting, especially in the hands of the Dutch and Flemish masters of the 17th century, often has symbolic overtones. Courtship and love were seen through musical instruments. The vanity of human life was seen in a skull and hourglass. The Christian message was seen through a loaf of bread and a glass of wine. The Bible itself even displays symbolism through its Old Testament and New Testament counterparts. Abraham’s sacrifice of his son Isaac foreshadowed God’s sacrifice of Christ. David is also seen as a type of Christ. David’s struggle with Goliath foreshadows Christ’s struggle with Satan.

I would love for all artists who happen to be Christians to be known as the best and most creative people in their field. The church has done a good job serving before obscure men, but not such a good job serving before kings (Proverbs 22:29). Christians were meant to “rule” the earth with their talents as leaders, as Genesis 1:26 commands. My challenge to all Christians everywhere is to recognize the gifts God has given you and develop them to their utmost potential so that you might serve Christ in an eternal way. We have all been called “for such a time as this” (Esther 4:14, NIV).

“Through Jesus Christ, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that confess his name.” - Hebrews 13:15 (NIV)

Home | About | Articles | Speaking | Links | Contact | FAQ
Blogs: Christians in the Arts | Beauty and the Beholder

Copyright 2007 LeAnne Martin. Site designed by ChurchGraphics.org