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Life at the Crossroads:

Perspectives on Some Areas


of Public Life

Art

Living at the Crossroads


Chapter 9
Two Erroneous Starting Points
Art is only good if its high art
Art is only good if it serves a
sacred purpose like
evangelism
Roots for the arts

Art rooted in creative


potential of humanity
Creative potential arises out
of creation
Art Needs No Justification
Art needs no justification
(Hans Rookmaker)
Art justified by:
Way God made us
Task God has given us

God created us with his own capacity


for creativity, the possibility both to
create something beautiful, and to
delight in it. (Abraham Kuyper)
Creativity as a gift
Genesis 4: Development of
music and poetry
Psalms as poetry with
headings instructing director
of music regarding
instruments and dance
What is art?
Human experience or world
presented to us for
consideration
Presenting real and important world

Over and over when surveying


representational art we are
confronted with the obvious fact
that the artist is not merely
projecting a world which has
caught his private fancy, but a
world true in significant
respects to what his community
believes to be real and
important.
(Nicholas Wolterstorff)
Role of the Artist

To become an artist means that you


become a professional imaginator in
order to help your handicapped,
unimaginative neighbour. Our
artistic profession is meant to give
voice, eyes, ears and tactile sense
to those who are underdeveloped
toward such rich nuances of
meaning in God's creation (Cal
Seerveld).
Function of art and artist
My task [as novelist] . . . is, by the
power of the written word to make
you hear, to make you feelit is,
before all to make you see.
(Joseph Conrad)

The function of the arts is to


heighten our awareness and
perception of life by making us
vicariously live in it. (Leland
Ryken)
Role of art
Human experience or world
presented to us for
consideration
Human experience or world is
simplified
Art presents reality to us
The world of the literary
imagination is a highly
organized version of the real
world. It is a world in which
images, characters, and story
patterns are presented
stripped of distracting
complexities (Ryken).
Imaginative form
Art does not try to give a
photographic copy of life; it
rearranges the materials of
life in order to give us a
heightened perception of its
qualities. Art is life at the
remove of imaginative form
(Ryken).
We all know that Art is not truth.
Art is the lie that makes us realize
the truth. (Picasso)

The imagination . . . plays the game of


make-believe. It simplifies and
heightens reality. . . . The artistic
imagination is a window to reality.
(Leland Ryken)
What is art?
Human experience or world
presented to us for
consideration
Human experience or world is
simplified
Human experience interpreted
Artists aim to make the audience
share their visionto see what they
see, feel what they feel, and
interpret life as they do. (Ryken)
The artists . . . can transmute . . .
reality into the order of significant
form only in accordance with what
are his most fundamental beliefs
about what is radically significant in
life. (Nathan Scott)
Literary reality is a carefully framed
and controlled kind of actuality, with
every element displaying the artists
own beliefs, his own values. His
choice of subject matter and his
treatment of it are evidences of his
attitudes. (Keith McKean)
What is art?
Human experience or world
presented to us for
consideration
Human experience or world is
simplified
Human experience interpreted
Shaped by artistic techniques
Art takes real life as its subject, but
the imagination of the artist transforms
those materials in keeping with the
conventions of art.

Art does not try to give a photographic


copy of life; it rearranges the materials
of life in order to give us a heightened
perception of its qualities. Art is life at
the remove of imaginative form.

Method of art is to incarnate meaning in


concrete form, signs, images, symbols.
We enter the world of our imaginations.
-Ryken
Battle for the Arts

Our leisure, even our play, is a


matter of serious concern.
There is no neutral ground in
the universe; every square
inch, every split second, is
claimed by God and
counterclaimed by Satan. . . .
It is a serious matter to
choose wholesome recreations.
(C.S. Lewis)
Role of art
Delight, enjoyment,
entertainment

That is how it is with poetry: created


and developed to give joy to human
hearts. (Horace)

The arts tell us a lot about human


experience, but they also exist to be
delightful in themselves. (Ryken)
Role of art
Delight, enjoyment,
entertainment
Deepens and broadens an
understanding of ourselves,
world, others
The grand power of poetry [also
other arts] is its power of so
dealing with things as to awaken
in us a wonderfully full, new, and
intimate sense of them, and of
our relations with them. When
this sense is awakened in us, . . .
we feel ourselves to be in contact
with the essential nature of
those objects . . . (Matthew
Arnold).
Imagination enables us to
understand world in way reason does
not!

The world of literature is a world


where there is no reality except
that of the imagination. . . . The
constructs of the imagination tell us
things about human life that we
dont get in any other way.
(Northrop Frye)
Role of art
Delight, enjoyment,
entertainment
Deepens and broadens an
understanding of ourselves,
world, others
Enlarges our experience
We seek an enlargement of our being. We
want to be more than ourselves. Each of
us by nature sees the whole world from
one point of view with a perspective and a
selectiveness peculiar to himself. . . We
want to see with other eyes, to imagine
with other imaginations, to feel with
other hearts, as well as with our own. . . .
We demand windows. . . . This, so far as I
can see, is the specific value or good of
literature. . . .; it admits us to experiences
other than our own. (C.S. Lewis)
When we are at play, or
looking at a painting or a
statue, or reading a story, the
imaginary work must have
such an effect on us that it
enlarges our own sense of
reality. (Madelein LEngle)
Role of art
Delight, enjoyment,
entertainment
Deepens and broadens an
understanding of ourselves,
world, others
Enlarges our experience
Encourages our sense of play
Nourishing the imagination and
the arts
Recognize possibilities for
creativity in all of life
Take seriously calling of some
to be artists
Support Christian art and
artists!
Develop discernment in
viewing and interpreting art