Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Art Spaces

I attended a seminar on Friday about Art and Economic Development with Lanie McMullin, from Everett Washington. It was quite informative and Lanie is a new spinner so that made it more enjoyable.

As I contemplated on the things she talked about:
Cities using artists to increase the desirability of their communities to the "knowledge base workforce" and to attract business and tourism....

I contemplated about the places where art is created -- even fiber art -- both the physical spaces like studios, arts districts, and livingrooms and the mental spaces -- the places where you have time, creativity and permission to make art.

I realized that as a Christian, my art and cultural symbols are not acceptable in the mainstream artistic world. So be it. But as a Christian artist, my art is also not acceptable in the church. This troubles me. As we come up to the advent season what passes for "art" in the church is commercialized drivel -- not a powerful cultural statement of the joy and hope of a friendship with the living creator God. "Art" as a medium for worship and edification -- as in the works of the great Dutch Masters -- is lost. And the church is impoverished for it. This was was emphasized by an experience I had yesterday.

This Sunday, the poster for the Boundary Artisan Association Christmas Faire was removed from the Community Bulletin Board located in our church foyer. Perhaps, someone found the artistic rendition of the "Northern Lights" offensive. Perhaps they thought that the Northern Lights were dancing (They do!) I was not informed of the reason that my poster was taken down and folded up out of sight.

There are 3 artisans from our church that will be selling at the BAA Christmas Faire next weekend. Many of the other artisans at the faire are Christians, as well. In fact, almost half of the artisans in the faire are Christian artists. This Faire will be their only opportunity to sell in the community this season. Most hope to earn a quarter to half, of their annual income from their Christmas sales. It seems that they cannot hope to gain the support of their faith community.

And the church just had a 10 Thousand Villages (MCC) sale to support artisans overseas -- which included a video commercial with an artisan carving a Kokopelli image (a central american fertility god!) The image was flashed on the screen several times in the church service. So why offence at our local artisans?

It comes down to art spaces -- permission to create -- space to be creative in and a receptive audience for the work. Here's hoping that your art space is more embracing than mine.

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