Mutual support also spurs evangelism of other artists.

Christians in the arts feel isolated. Their non-Christian peers and colleagues often have little sympathy or understanding for their Christian philosophy and convictions. At the same time, other Christians just as often tend to dismiss them as eccentric, and are unable to decipher what the artists are trying to communicate.

But there is a stirring within many artistic communities and disciplines. Christian artists are not only finding one another and exploring avenues for fellowship, they are also reaching out to other artists in evangelism.

A visit last June to the biennial CIVA conference (Christians in the Visual Arts) revealed just how much is happening.

CIVA itself is six years old. Eugene Johnson, a now-retired art professor at Bethel College (St. Paul, Minn.), simply wrote to 30 or 40 Christian artists whose names he had acquired, asking if they would be interested in getting together. The response was overwhelmingly positive. As a result, the first CIVA conference was held on the Bethel campus in 1977 and drew some 120 people who “found and nurtured friendship, strength, direction, and encouragement with other Christians who had a vital interest in the arts.”

This year’s conference, the fourth, was hosted by the art department at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, with Calvin art professor Edgar Boevé serving as chairman. The three-day program included juried art exhibits and slide shows in addition to plenary sessions and discussions. There were also unscheduled, spontaneous prayer and brainstorming sessions. Among comments heard at one such unplanned meeting was one that suggested artists might turn criticism into creative prayer—not just “God bless you prayers.” ...

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