On Being an Artist – Deborah Keiller (part three)

by Geoff Hall on April 2, 2012

Day Three- If there was one thing you could change about the relationship between the Church and the Arts, what would it be? 

"Untitled" by Deborah Keiller



In my experience I have found Church culture has a tendency to create water tight boxes to contain an understanding of God, rather than embracing the mystery that defines our humanity & faith. If we can understand, by default we can control, thereby we have power over our outcomes….then when things don’t go ‘according to plan’ we have a crisis of confidence & faith!

However life just isn’t that simple! We live on a tight rope of paradox & contradiction where the only reliable truth is God’s unrelenting & audacious love for us. Yet paradoxically this love is revealed to us within a rocky landscape of adversity, disappointment & unwelcome change. Our journey of faith is all about learning to navigate a course through this reality. Yet I seldom hear contradiction & irony referred to in conversation or publically taught about and certainly rarely reflected in the arts amongst Christians.

Symbolic images of peace, love, hope, etc are liberally used without reference to their counterpart. Yet without their opposite these values are devoid of their very meaning & potency!! How can we experience love if we have never felt fear and hope without disappointment, joy without pain?

In short my answer is…… More authenticity, less sentimentality! More grit, less fluff! 



Whilst reading Deborah’s call for authenticity I’m reminded that many today still talk about relevance. This however is misplaced, as relevance is fleeting, it follows the cultural trends, is here today and gone tomorrow. AND yet the artist who speaks authentically about life, art and all the complications thereof, the artist who aims to help us not escape reality, but to engage with it so that we might be agents of change, offers an authentic vision and a voice to the voiceless.







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