Tag: art

Would Your Church Censor This Art?

Station 7 - Jesus Falls For The Second Time by Jackson Potts II

Ecclesia Church in Houston, Texas, whose website describes the church as a “holistic missional Christian community,” invited local artists to submit original artwork depicting each of the Stations of the Cross.

Young 10-year old artist Jackson Potts II, who has been studying photography with his photographer father for several years, was given the commission to produce a photograph showing Station #7, Jesus Falls For the Second Time.

Young Potts chose to interpret the scene by replacing the Roman soldier with a contemporary police officer, and he depicted the innocence of Jesus using a child, his own brother, to portray the fallen Christ.

The church was offended by the photograph, according to ABC News, and would not display the photograph in the church art gallery, Xnihilo.  The decision by church officials has led two gallery directors to resign, but the church did create a blog about the whole incident. You can follow all the links in the curator’s blog for further information, including links to local media coverage.

The church gave a variety of reasons for rejecting the photograph ranging from “the photograph would scare young children who trust and respect police officers” to “we felt it was provocative in the wrong way” to “[it] did not draw people closer to the risen Christ.

Which brings me to my questions:

  • If this were your church, would you have allowed the photograph to be viewed?  If not, why?
  • Is the purpose of art to convey the church’s message or the artist’s message?
  • When a church engages artists to produce artwork, should there be any restrictions on what they produce?  If so, what?

These are pertinent questions as increasing numbers of churches engage artists in producing artwork to be shown for church purposes.  Are we returning to “church art” of the Medieval period where the church was both patron and censor, or are churches genuinely interested in hearing what artists have to say?  What do you think, and more importantly, what would you have done in this situation?  Fire away in the comment section.

Art for homeless kids in Toronto

The ancient Celtic Christian abbeys producedSketch logo beautiful illuminated manuscripts, the most notable being The Book of Kells.  In his book, How the Irish Saved Civilization, Thomas Cahill credits Irish monasteries with rescuing ancient texts, recopying them, and then taking them back to Europe to replace the texts burned during the barbarian invasion. 

But churches and Christians today are finding new ways to use the arts to “save civilization” or at least individuals in it.  Our church was featured in Outreach magazine in December 2006 for helping sponsor Soundcheck, a teen open mic night in our community.  You can read about Soundcheck and other arts programs we have in the Our Church tab at the top of this blog. 

Leadership’s latest newsletter spotlighted an arts program that is saving 600-at-risk kids, and helping them give expression to their creativity.  Sketch is an arts program in Toronto with sponsor partners made up of Christian churches, individuals, and other organizations. 

This is part of the church-as-abbey concept springing up all over North America.  Based on the ancient Celtic Christian abbey, churches are becoming modern-day abbeys in their own communities.  The great thing is that size doesn’t matter — small churches particularly can become abbey churches and impact their communities in new ways.