Bible and Art

Lara Schopp Carla Aday, Senior Minister Blog

I do believe it is possible to create, even without ever writing a word or painting a picture, by simply molding one’s inner life. 
-Etty Hillesum, An Interrupted Life

The artist’s brush strokes make a difference. The way the light focuses your attention on a particular character in the Biblical scene speaks volumes of theology. When we embarked on the “Bible and Art” tour in Italy I was prepared to have my mind expanded.

And then came a new dimension. We began to learn about the personal narrative of the artist who sculpted or painted. Leonardo DaVinci was an illegitimate son and so he was not allowed to receive the formal education that would have been his right if he was legitimate. This opened the doorway for him to explore creative avenues of science, art, engineering instead of becoming a notary like his father. And in the 15th century he was openly gay and was arrested for behaving in ways that church and society frowned upon. In many ways he was marginalized by society and yet he painted two of the most famous paintings in the world: the Mona Lisa which crowds still clamor to see in Paris and the Last Supper which we replicate in our own church with a life sized wood carving. How did his own personal angst open the doorway for him to reach creative genius status?

Caravaggio murdered a man and was always in trouble or on the run. And he is one of my favorite artists, capturing the depth of human pain and holy light all at once in his dramatic paintings. And a contemporary of his, Artimisia Gentileschi, the first woman artist accepted into the Academy of Art, painted the story of a Jewish woman, Judith, beheading Holofernes in order to save the Jewish people. But she gave Judith her own face and Holofernes the face of the man who had raped her. Her tragic story becomes intertwined with the story of God working through humanity to seek justice.

As I pondered the artist’s life shaping his or her creative expressions, my heart began to open up as well. How is it that the joys and trials of our own lives enable us to see something of God in the world? All of us are creative. We may not be artists. But we have the opportunity each day to mold our inner lives, to take the threads of our lives and weave God’s holy presence into the tapestry. Our own stories influence how we receive the Good news of God and how we share it.

Grace and Peace,

Carla