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techne

scripture says...

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i was wondering which passages of scripture G-d has used to encourage you in your art, or to speak to you about the artistic process and/ or role of the artist? i'm not asking for inspiration for specific pieces - i'm more interested as they might relate to the larger calling (or responsibilities, if you prefer) of the artist.

obviously, the various passages in exodus would apply, and phil 4.13 - but what others?

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I am a bit of a dissenter on this question, as I don't put a lot of stock into the passages typically used to talk about art in the Bible. (All the temple passages and the Phil. 4 passage are good examples, which were really popularized by Schaeffer's book). I find direction for art in the bible a few ways:

1. Resurrection: First and foremost would be the great arc from Genesis 1-3 to the resurrection. God initially describes Himself as a creator of fallen creators. The resurrection is the high-water mark of His inconceivable creative intelligence, the restoration of humanity by an act that didn't just celebrate Christ's accomplished work but the defeat of all that which robs the earth of its Artist's signature. The resurrection is a material victory, fashioned out of the same substances that had fallen in the beginning. To bend Tarkovsky's metaphor, it is God sculpting in time. Then I get to Romans 8, the great chapter on Spirit and resurrection, and I can't help but think of all artistic activity within the context of the earth "groaning and laboring" (8:22). The artistic impulse, the desire to materially produce thoughts, patterns, and compositions, is both an echo of God's creative activity and the response of His creation to its own fallenness.

I think God's role in the resurrection is directly parallel to His role in the creation of the world, which tells us a lot about how we can think about art: 1. It involves material, physical materials. Fashion, style, and trend are all okay - but they are always subordinate to art as the trained manipulation of physical material (and virtual I suppose, as there are electrons in there). This wades into the current fine art vs. craft debate, but you can probably tell where I land on that one. 2. It is public. The practice of art is a social process, a communicating process. God accomodates Himself to us in both creation and resurrection, and I enjoy artwork that understands this analogical process. There is an idea that through knowledge of a particular material (oil, metal, film, etc...) becomes communicable. A "good" work of art is one that by successful use of craft and material becomes articulate. I guess this is the aesthetic of "The Word became flesh."

2. Genre: I take a lot of instruction from the sheer artistry of the Bible. It says the same things in so many different ways, and this grants us latitude in the way we choose to communicate with the world. What is Esther all about? A book in the Bible that doesn't even mention God? Indeed, it works. And I like Jim J's artwork so much because he isn't at all afraid of biblical imagery, but rather embraces it with the almost playful ease with which the Bible skips from genre to genre often within the span of a few verses.

3. Social Justice: The Minor Prophets speak a great deal towards what sort of subject matter we should be interested in. If we want our art to actually do something, it can do the sorts of things that happened in the prophets. The first things that come to mind from this perspective are Morris' Thin Blue Line and the Dardennes Rosetta. Not the fine arts, but each film actually did something in society - one cleared a man of a false conviction, the other initiated immigration policy change in northwest Europe. Off the top of my head I can't think of actual paintings or installations that have had this sort of immediate effect, but you get the idea. Sure, art is about beauty and all that, but Christian art is about the kind of beauty that shapes and refines social conscience. Brueggemann and Heschel on the Minor Prophets are great introductions to this subject.

4. I personally have a lot invested in tracking the production of our earliest New Testament texts as part of an important aesthetic history. This is probably the most literal application of your question possible.

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Exodus 21: 4 Then they journeyed from Mount Hor by the Way of the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom; and the soul of the people became very discouraged on the way. 5 And the people spoke against God and against Moses:

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