Large Congregations establish large collections of Art.

Why has the organized Church not made more of an effort to promote art and appreciation of art through the parish and congregation? The value of art in the sanctuary inspires its members to take time to rest and be at peace with images which are visually provocative and soothing.

I can imagine a revival in the community where large congregations with huge art collections utilize the work to fit with the liturgical calendar. In addition, I can imagine them lending their collections to other churches around their dioceses that have less financial resources.

I would suggest art has always been a venue for meditation and inspiration because art expands the mind without words or doctrine. It often affirms ones present spiritual condition.

IE, when you find your interior self perplexed and you look up at a stained glass window, it might have exactly the scene from the bible which authenticates your condition. Nature can offer the same sort of  message with a blade of glass or a bird pecking at the window while the priest is talking about being left out or rejected.

Recently I was preparing to offer a week long workshop in Iconography at the Monastery of the Soledad. I had been meditating and thinking about Jonah and the Whale (fish actually).

The image you see here. At any rate, while advertising the icon workshop, I hoped for a large group of people to teach.

As the number swelled from 6 to 11 I was delighted. When the number of participants increased to 16, I thought Oh No! Then two people canceled. Suddenly I felt dejected and now worried everyone would cancel.

I saw the image on my studio table, there was Jonah being spit out and rejected by the Whale, there was Jonah arguing with God and wanting to control things his way. I thought, humility “Mary Jane Miller”,  God givith and God taketh away.

I am speaking about the value of image, story and reflection.

Art is a tool utilized in the church to bring us closer to God and a better understanding thereof. We have gradually lost the desire to develop and create fantastic new challenging art for the church and resorted to art which is simple, symbolic and generally fast and brief.

I would like to see the church support the level of arts as they did and still do in Europe. The artist lives in all of us and we are responsible for developing and maintaining beauty all around us with the resources God has given us. Often in Europe the vegetable venders display their produce artistically, garbage cans are uniform and symmetrical, rooftop gardens are an explosion of color and form, etc.

I am an” iconographer

The work of any artist demands support, competition and encouragement, even preserving an ancient craft like icon painting (writing). Sadly, At times i have been told the work is too expensive, too traditional or not innovative enough for the modern mind.

There is a difference between the professional artist and those who explore art as a hobby. I would love to see not only my work supported by the community but our profession recognized and supported by the Church around the world.

There are many obstacles preventing such support. The history of Protestant denominations shying away from visual arts for fear of idolatry, distraction, or idiosyncratic interpretation is well known. There are “worship wars” within some congregation over what is appropriate image for the church.

The wrangling is good if it produces interaction and exchange of thoughts and perspectives along the way. Let us debate the best way to pray and what style is the most useful, along with discussions about art and its value.

Art stimulates the mind and heart in a good way.

The modern church and Unitarian types regularly include drama, painting, sculpture, or any literary arts. Artists, like any other professional in the community appreciates being included and called upon by the congregation for their talent and expertise.

I am grieved at times to see watered down talent or praise for mediocrity all because of no budget or uneducated alternatives. A lively, profound, sensitive conversation about all this might provoke healthier church-artist communication. The results could look like a new Renaissance.

If interested, post your comments and  I want to post three perspectives for change at a later date.

peace be with all of you.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.