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No More 'Christian Artists' in Charlottesville

No More 'Christian Artists' in Charlottesville

Three artists groups blur the sacred-secular divide in central Virginia.

Across denominational lines, Christians are leading a growing counter-cultural movement in Charlottesville, Virginia's arts community. Painters work alongside homeless advocates, worship leaders moonlight as folk performers, and churches host art spaces, all collaborating as they create "some of the most vital art in town," reported Charlottesville News & Arts' Andrew Cedermark this spring. Three groups in particular—the New City Arts Initiative, the Garage, and Bifrost Arts—are supporting the arts created by devoted followers of Jesus, and erasing the lines between Christian and non-Christian audiences in the process.

Here's a snippet from Cedermark's essay. As you read this, ask: How are Christians in the arts defying traditional boundaries in your own community?

There was a time when the "Christian" label would've made fans of secular music roll their eyes. But the sanctuary at The Haven at First and Market was packed to the gills with concertgoers paying 10 bucks a ticket, a not insignificant price for a show by a little-known folk group on a boutique indie rock label at a non-venue attached to a homeless shelter.
That the show was such a success is testament to a growing trend in town, where art made within the Christian community is increasingly drawing a secular crowd—and is indistinguishable from secular art. Locally, the melding of religious and secular arts communities can thank groups like the New City Arts Initiative, the Garage, and Bifrost Arts.
These groups, their ties to faith invisible, serve up some of the most vital art in town, pushing back against the widely-held notion that the church, today, is a cultural regurgitator or a voice against risqué, challenging art. So locally, at least, you can forget about religious crusades against the Dung Mary and David Wojnarowicz's ants on a crucifix, or Marilyn Manson versus the Pope. And forget about the dramatic oils of glowing Jesus atop a mountain. As with The Welcome Wagon, you might not know from the look, the sound, or the taste of it. But that may be Christian art you're consuming ….

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Comments Are Closed

Displaying 1–4 of 4 comments

E Harris

November 22, 2011  2:46pm

Suffice to say, I am christian. And I consider myself an artist, because I do artwork. Does that make me a "christian artist?" I have always had a passion for both word and art. And since I also have a passion for GOD... a lot of my artwork articulates the sentiments from my own heart and intuition. Sometimes, people have misunderstood that. As soon as they may see an obvious pointer toward J-E-S-U-S they recoil. I didn't used to understand this. To me, Jesus was beautiful. But to them... they recoil because they don't see the beauty (despite the beauty and non-confrontational nature of the piece itself). This baffles me. Just keep showing beauty AND Jesus (in many little ways) until the light breaks through and dawns on them. In some of my more religious pieces, I've painted pictures of baptisms (full-immersion). It's beautiful to me, and the emotion and play of color and light is beautiful. The same thing can be done in a more confrontational manner: such as "graffiti-style" words, or depictions of spiritual warfare... But for the most part, beauty is found in the simple and sublime. I don't think we need to deliberately tone down our "Christian-ness"... we just need to get more real with it and less threatened by what is considered to be "outside" the present boundaries. The Spirit of the Lord will direct us into knowing what is acceptable to Him and what is a little too-far!

E Harris

November 22, 2011  2:38pm

Jesus: "If I be lifted up, I will draw all men to me." Jesus is lord of ALL. So if you have worship in your heart, and you seek to walk a pure life - then pure worship will be expressed in many ways. God is as beautiful (in essence and person) as his creation describes him to be. So... lets get beautiful and intuitive with our artwork. Beauty testifies to God's handiwork in creation. I think a lot of christian artwork was carrying the party-line early on, because it needed to be that way at first. In order to find our identity as Christian artists, we needed to have the basics down FIRST. And the basics are a pure heart toward God, and simple worship and thanksgiving. Expressing God's beauty for the sake of articulating some truth as it relates to Him... should always be the primary concern. Holiness to the Lord! A joyfully holy life, is a happy life - and people cannot help but be attracted to it's light. We can build upon our roots, and the christian pioneers who went before us. We can take what they had, and press further into the Kingdom of God and the beauty of Biblical truth.

debdessaso

November 19, 2011  5:59pm

Ditto, k tra! For too long, Christians have tried to perform a self-imposed, high-wire act between so-called "sacred" and "secular" art, instead of seeing that everything they did was to be done solely for the glory of God. This is especially true with music. Whenever I would read about those who believed that Christians should sing only "Christian" music, I would ask myself: do they also believe that a Christian who is also a seamstress sew only choir gowns? Or the Christian who is also an architect build only church buildings? God knew what He was doing when He didn't have the biblical writers include sheet music! Instead, He gave us His Holy Spirit--the Divine Muse and Ultimate Worship Leader who leads us to dedicate all of our works to the Triune God!

k tra

November 18, 2011  12:54am

Here it is. This is not new at all. Of course RZIM addressed this quite a number of times in the past few years. My take on things as an artist myself as well as a "consumer" of various forms of expression...is as follows: Philippians 4:8. Brothers whatever is noble,right,lovely, admirable- if anything is excellent or praisworthy-think on these things. Remember if you are a follower, the Holy Spirit lives in you, what you are taking into your eyes,ears and body all effect your soul, is what you see or hear or do, something that you would be proud to carry naked in judgment in front of Jesus and say LOOK LORD AT WHAT I HAVE FOR YOU?

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