Why We Need Artists
(It Was Good Making Art to the Glory of God)
In It Was Good, in the Ch. Titled Why We Need Artists, I came across an intriguing quote by C.S. Lewis: “reason is the organ of truth, but imagination is the organ of meaning” (Bustard 117). When you think about it, this statement proves true no matter how unimaginative you are. We use our reasoning and logic to uncover truth but to actually comprehend what we are thinking about we have to imagine it. Imagination brings meaning and understanding. Imagination is something we take for granted everyday but is actually a powerful tool.
This reminds me of a chapter I read in a book by Gene Veith titled The Soul of the Lion, the Witch, & the Wardrobe. In the introduction of the book it explains some background information about Lewis’s own transformation from atheism to faith. One day in a bookstall at a train station, Lewis came across a book titled Phantastes, a novel and fairy tale written by George MacDonald (a Christian author from the 19th century). Lewis later explained how this book “baptized his imagination” (Veith 15). When Lewis began to read Phantastes
“[the] book gave him a glimpse of something beyond the train station and his own grubby life, a sense of something good and mysterious and powerful, and without his knowing what it was, the book made him yearn for it. Later, he said, he realized that the book was giving him his first experience of a sense of holiness” (Veith 15).
Much later on, when Lewis decided to write his own fairytale he described the goal of his work to his friend George Sayer: “[he meant to] make it easier for children to accept Christianity when they met it later in life. He hoped they would be vaguely reminded of the somewhat similar stories they had read and enjoyed years before. “I am aiming at a sort of pre-baptism of the child’s imagination.” (Veith 21). Lewis aimed at opening up children’s imaginations to the gospel message and he did it in an unexpected way. He told the story of the gospel but in a different way. Art and writing can have a powerful effect on people and even if they are absolutely closed to the idea of Christianity they may be more open to reading a story you have written or a painting you have made and this in turn can baptize their imaginations and could one day lead them on a journey in the Christian faith. So the reason we need artists is for this very valuable task. As explained in It Was Good “One artist can express only one little ray of God’s glory” (Bustard 124). This is why we need a community of artists each doing the specific task God has given them. In a small way we can all contribute to igniting the world’s imagination and opening their eyes to the Glory of God.
To answer the question why we need artists, here are some amazing images I found by an artist from the CIVA (Christians In the Visual Arts) website. Artists can help us understand the world in which we live and open our eyes up to the incredible display of God’s Glory in nature.
Here are a couple of landscape images I found by Len Cicio on CIVA’s website:
The New Earth by Len Cicio
Water Movements by GWBridge, (colored pencils, pen and ink) by Len Cicio
I found Len Cicio’s description of this piece particularly interesting: “A friend of mine who lives in Washington Heights in NYC took a photo of these 2 ducks and the patterns their path made on the water By the George Washington Bridge. I tried capturing some of God’s incredible patterns of nature with colored pencils and pen & ink. No one can do it quite like the Master but that doesn’t stop us from trying as artists to keep rasing our level up. Enjoy! Len”
Here is a paint sketch I did of a tree to show how art and imagination helps us understand and explore the Glory of God that is found in nature:
Tree Paint Sketch by Heidi Walton
Bustard, Ned. It Was Good Making Art to the Glory of God Second Edition 2006. Square Halo Books: 2006. Print.
Veith, Gene. The Soul of the Lion, the Witch, & the Wardrobe. Victor: 2005. Print.