constellation.

“He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name.” -Psalm 147:4

“Lift up your eyes to the heavens : Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one and calls them by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.” – Isaiah 40:26

ceramics

There are many different natural phenomena that brings people to their knees at the feet of Jesus saying, “yes Lord, I see you”. For me, it’s the stars. But it’s the nights that are overwhelmingly full of stars, where the milky way can be seen clearly and the magnitude of the universe comes crashing towards me. The stars have the power to make me feel incredibly small and insignificant and yet full of a purpose and calling. They show me just how big God is, so big that I can’t even begin to understand the magnitude of His creation.

Humanity can guess that there are roughly 100 billion stars in existence. Of those billion, humanity has located and “named” (or numbered) thousands of them. Constellations were the first attempt to grasp the magnitude that is the stars, to use and understand the recurring patterns that are present at night. They were used for religious purposes, understanding the seasons, agriculture and travel. In 1922, 88 modern constellations were given official merit in the world of astronomy. They act as points of reference for astronomers as they continue to dive into the depths of the universe.

Constellations are “stars in stellar patterns”. The crazy part is that stars are on their own orbits, only clustered together based on how they are viewed from earth. As time goes on, the constellations will shift and change. Even our attempts to pin down the vastness of the stars cannot be totally understood – our maps of the universe are ever changing.

I wanted to touch at the stars in this project, pick a constellation, and allow a moment to notice the stars. I picked the constellation Capricornus, and arranged my plates to fit its shape, and used gold luster to connect the constellation. I wanted them to be hung as a wall installation, but able to be removed and used for everyday use.

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I’ve got to be honest now, I do not think my pieces are good, as we’ve come to understand the word. I was deeply moved by Rowan Williams’ words in Grace and Necessity. He highlighted that work made with integrity “of vision, purpose, and splendor manifests itself into beauty” (168). He talked about honest creation and imagination, an attempt to embody what we see in God’s creation. I am inspired by Creation around me, and I want my work to speak into that creation, and to ultimately point back to that. But looking at my final piece, I don’t think it points back to creation. There was a lack of integrity when I pursued the making, I was making to satisfy a class requirement, not because I truly wanted people to see again a sky that maybe they had lost sight of.

“Bad art is art that does not invite us to question our perceptions or emotions, that impose an intrusive artistic presence, that obscures both the original occasion of encounter, the original object in the world, and it’s own concrete life” (Williams, 150). I know I shouldn’t call my work “bad” but there is definitely an obstruction, a disconnect between my plates and the beauty that I wanted them to be inspired by.

“…this involves a dual act of reverence towards the world that is first seen or heard and towards the object” (Williams, 151).

I’m not going to stop here – I think the idea that began the process is one that I want to pursue. I just need to explore the idea with more curious and gentle strokes. I tried to force something that wasn’t ready to be embodied, but maybe this idea will pop up again in the future.

“The combination of that integrity, consonance and radiance is the work of love… it is beautiful when it is released from the artist” (Williams, 169).

The artist that is inspiring the visual and practical formation of the plate wall installation is Molly Hatch. I’m inspired by the cohesion and imagery of her work. I would love to see my pieces installed at this level, with the same cohesive vision and attention to detail as Molly Hatch has in her work. You can see more of her process and pieces at her website below.

Sources :

Photographs : Corrie Mahr Photography

Grace and Necessity by Rowan Williams

Random Info : space.com, constellation-guide.com, comfychair.com, and wikipedia.org

Molly Hatch : mollyhatchstudio.com

who am i?

“Our identity is grounded in and conditioned by the fact that we are created by God, bear His image, and are known by Him. That is to say, our identity is circumscribed by our creatureliness, and charged by the capacity we have to know and interact with God” (pg. 309).Theodore Prescott : Identity | It was Good – Making Art to the Glory of God

How do we define ourselves? What are the identifying factors that we ascribe to ourselves? What is identity? Some fun questions to ponder!

Prescott writes about how identity is seen in our present culture and where we should find our identity. He begins by discussing how the art would wants to see interesting and auto-biographical artwork; art that gives the viewer a peek into their oh so unconventional and quite so curious lives. “But the interesting is not merely defined by a lack of boredom. In our culture “interest” has built into the idea of arousing curiosity, standing apart from the ordinary and having or doing something that attracts attention… So to set out to make interesting art is to move in a very different direction than to pursue beauty” (pg. 317). And this idea of pursuing the beautiful is one that we have been discussing for the majority of the semester. The contemporary idea that an artist should steer away from making “beautiful” work is affirmed in this idea that the art world wants to see interesting, audience pleasing artwork. It sounds as though Prescott is arguing that to find one’s identity as an artist in the contemporary context would fall short of what your identity can fully be. To always try to please an audience, a curator, or your artwork even, your identity may shift depending on the demand.
“The biblical concept of self, and of vocation, is found in relationship to God and other selves. So it is not that we should not be expressive, but instead a question of what our expressions arise from and what they ultimately serve” (pg. 319). Prescott says that our identity should be found in our relationship with God – creator to creation.

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Suite One Studio

“…art by Christians will, or ought to, somehow communicate a Christian worldview” (pg. 321).

Prescott continues to explain problems that are associated with “Christian expression” (pg. 321). I resonate with his worry that when the “Christian artist” identity is forced, the artwork will fall short. He explains that some work is not meant to communicate. My work’s first purpose is function (not communication), if the function fails, the work fails. Beyond that I can only hope that something more comes about. I identify as a Christian and as an artist, but I don’t know if I would say that I am a “Christian artist”; I don’t know how anyone would know that I’m a Christian by only looking at my work. But I identify first as a Christian, so I suppose (and hope) my actions as a Christian are bound to spill over into my artistic practice. I hope that if I work with integrity, my work will speak to some truth about creation and somehow surpass its surface purpose.

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personal work.

“‘Sooner or later, writers or composers or painters will say something about the things that matter most to them. If this is true, it is inevitable that the Christian vision in art will be characterized by the presence rather than the absence of such realities as God, sin, redemption, and God’s revelation of himself in both Word and Son.’ – Leland Ryken” (pg. 321).

It was interesting to do some further reading on artists and how they find their identity… the famed E.E.Cummings put together a compilation of various of his writings talking about what it really means to be an artist. Cummings along with Ann Truitt disagrees with Prescott; the difference between doing art and being an artist is this; “artists have no choice but to express their lives…” Cummings continues, “the Artist is no other than he who unlearns what he has learned, in order to know himself; and the agony of the Artist, far from being the result of the world’s failure to discover and appreciate him, arises from his own personal struggle to discover, to appreciate and finally to express himself.”

It is an interesting task to “find yourself” and to understand your identity. Prescott encourages his readers to place your identity in Christ, that art can stand fully true and beautiful without painting a self portrait of interesting expression. E.E.Cummings encourages his readers to be in Agony, and to express that agony in your artwork, and that work will but true and beautiful. I think that both can be correct depending… I’m still not sure how either applies to my creation of the perfect dinner setting… I’ve included images of an artist I’m inspired by, Lindsay Emery, who works under the name “Suite One Studio”. I’ve watched her work for a while, copying her color palets and her tecniques and I think that I’ve gotten to a point where copying her won’t cut it any longer. I have to find my identity as a potter, and as a Christian. However those two overlap…

“Our lives as artists, as parents, or as followers of Christ have to be lived out for our identities to have any meaning” (pg. 330).

Sources:

It was Good – Making Art to the Glory of God

The Agony of the Artist (with a capital A), Brain Pickings by Maria Popova

Images: Suite One Studio, work of Lindsay Emery

Personal Images: shot by Corrie Mahr Photography

the presence of prayer.

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Makoto Fujimura : Essence | It Was Good – Making Art to the Glory of God

I had the privilege of seeing Makoto Fujimura’s work in person my freshman year of college. He had a show at the Chehalem Cultural Center and what initially struck me was the size. Then the subtleties. Then the intentionalities taken within the works. Fujimura creates large scale abstract paintings with oil and gold leaf, and I find them to be captivating. He authored this portion of It Was Good, commenting on ‘essence’.

“I cannot depict God and I do not need to. Christ is the ultimate and only true fusing of content and form… we can create without trying to fuse content and form but to base our works on the notion that the fusing has already occurred – that this ultimate fusion can power our art” (pg. 297-298).

A main idea that Fujimura throws around is that of “the fusing of content and form”. He explains that “good” work is work that has some form… and content… but the only true picture of this is that of Christ. He is true content, divine and infinite, and yet took on true form. It is interesting to think that Christ is the only successful image we have of this “fusing” – we are only striving after a likeness to our creator.

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Still Point, Evening

“Because of Christ , we are free to create works on the foundation of Christ. We are free to be his creatures, living under the sovereign rule and power of the Creator. We are free to see natural forms and human experiences as an extension of Christ’s rule and reality ” (pg. 297-298). Fujimura bases his work off of the reality of Christ in the world and understanding his place in it. He states, “I seek after the essence of reality, experience and objects” (pg. 298).

 

“Art reaches to both heaven and earth, fusing them together. If we attempt to do this in our wisdom, the result will be a greater schism between heaven and earth. Christ is the ultimate example of this fusing – the incarnation of Christ, the divine becoming man – and is therefore the greatest example in which all artists can find inspiration… I think He is the only true source of inspiration available to us to learn from” (pg. 301).

He does go on to explain how we are to attempt at this “fusing”:

“In order for this fusing to occur, our thoughts and creativity must be driven by prayer” (pg. 301).

When our thoughts and intentions are focussed on Christ, our actions will be guided by the Holy Spirit. Prayer is an act of surrender. I must surrender my thoughts and my expectations for my process and allow the Spirit to take control.”The bridge between form and content, the essential power that allows form to be form-ing and content to become content-ing, is the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives” (pg. 305). It is another great challenge; prioritizing prayer as a part of the process. Our work becomes true and beautiful when we focus our hearts on the ultimate creation. Fujimura highlights that for him, prayer sets his eyes on our Creator. Maybe it is something different for different people. But finding the avenue to meditate on our place in God’s good creation is sounding essential to the making of good work.

“…prayer is paying attention to God and God’s world. Such holy attention, given her gaze to the world, unravels the true horrors of the darkness, and yet does so with a redemptive vigor” (pg. 302).

 

Sources:

It Was Good – Making Art to the Glory of God

Photographs: TheHypertexts.com

indefinable and inescapable.

“Art has to be in some sense, indefinable – but in another sense absolutely inescapable. What we say and do means something. We are not just chemicals. That is why we must have artists. Artists are people who know that, in spite of what we are told by our culture, everything is part of some bigger reality” (pg. 118).

Tim Keller : Glory | It was Good – Making Art to the Glory of God

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Jessica Coates Ceramics

In this chapter of “It was Good”, a phrase continued to pop up that I wanted to unpack; indefinable and inescapable. The author, Keller, talks about how art needs to be these two things – that the imagination is able to grasp these and then communicate them. While reading I was like, oh, yes, totally, mmm, good stuff… But once I took a step back and thought about actually communicating something that is indefinable… and inescapable… oh. yeah. right…

I know this will be a life long search, but Keller does mention some practical ways to tend towards these two entities. Imagination, experience, and community.

“It is only through imagination that we really sense something has meaning” (pg. 120).

Most artists have this one thing in common – they use their imagination. While I feel most people use their imagination on the daily, artists make the choice to try to make some part of their imagination tangible. Keller goes on to say that the Christian artist, while in tune with their imagination, is also in tune with the sense of something greater. C.S. Lewis explains this as the “other country”, this place that we were created for – eternity. “Artists have the special capacity to recognize the “other country” and communicate with the rest of us regarding the greater reality. A good artist will reveal something about the greater reality in an indefinable and inescapable way” (pg. 120). There it is again; an indefinable and inescapable way…

“While we have artists because they have the ability to see the greater reality, we need artists because, if Lewis is right, we can’t understand truth without art” (pg. 121).

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Glaze studies. Jessica Coates Ceramics

Keller quotes Arthur Danto, who, I think, we can blame for this daunting phrase: “Imagination communicates indefinable but inescapable truth” (pg. 123).

The next things Keller touches on is the idea of experiencing art. When art pushes you to a place were you feel something that is more, something indefinable, maybe even inescapable… it is there that we begin to see a picture of the glory of God. “You are committed to believing that nothing means anythings and yet the music comes and takes you over… your heart knows what your mind is denying” (pg. 123). When we engage with art that takes us to this place, we can begin to see our place in this bigger picture and find a little bit of the purpose for our work. When I experience something that is indefinable and inescapable, I realize that it is possible; that maybe my work could communicate in this way as well.

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Jessica Coates | Home studio

“If artists pick up some aspect of meaning and if all meaning is some aspect of the glory of God, things mean something only because they have something to do with the glory of God” (pg. 124).

The last is community. We cannot begin to fathom the piecing together of God’s glory… God’s glory is that which is inescapable and indefinable… Keller highlights J.R.R. Tolkien and his realization that his job was not to portray the whole of the “other country”. He was given a voice to represent just a part of that. When we enter into community with people, and we all bring together our pieces of the bit of glory that God has revealed to us, we can begin to piece together the larger image.  “We all need one another because we cannot possibly see the whole thing. We need one another because only together do we get some idea of the multifaceted array of God’s glory” (pg. 124).

I’ve included images of ceramic ware from Jessica Coates Ceramics; I see her work to be a beautiful study of texture and surfaces. She doesn’t write much about her work, but I look at the products and I see exploration and inspiration from texture in the natural environment. She would be someone I would want to be in community with – while I find beauty in the subtle colors and glossy surfaces, her work highlights the fascinating irregularities of our natural world. To bad she lives in Germany…

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texture close up.

Sources:

It was Good : Making Art to the Glory of God

Photographs : Jessica Coates Ceramics – @_jessica_coates

 

beautiful intentions.

“Beauty, now, is located both in the form and in this symbolic meaning… beauty draws us to itself and invites us to dwell on and behold it” (pg. 44).

Adrienne Chaplin : Beauty | It was Good –  Making Art to the Glory of God

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Fugit Amor, Rodin 1887

The dialogs around beauty are seemingly endless. And if it ends up to be true that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, there are billions of beholders… so billions of views. Adrienne Chaplin highlights a few and then offers a solution based on biblical hope – that beauty can be used to highlight redemption, and ultimately point to God. Before this conclusion, however, a few major players in the conversation over the definition of ‘beauty’ are highlighted.  I’ll highlight a few of the few; von Balthasar, Danto, and Pythagoras. [Great future baby names, yeah?]

Von Balthasar; “Beauty not only embraces the brokenness and pain of this world but enables us to see the glory of God through it. For von Balthasar, Christ therefore not only points to the invisible beauty of God, but, as his visible form, is there very apparition and appearance of its mystery” (pg. 42). Beauty? Christ. The incarnation of the creator of (even simply the idea of) beauty would, no doubt, be the compass to what beauty is.

Danto; “We cannot point to an objective feature of something beautiful, which can be considered to constitute the kernel of its beauty… [it] is indeterminate. There are no rules and concepts, which allow us to identify or produce beauty, yet, as Danto also tried to demonstrate, we expect most people to agree with us when we point to something and call it beautiful” (pg. 42). Danto’s stance? Beauty is too subjective and cannot be nailed down. Art is about the philosophy. What does it mean? What is the concept? In the unseen aspect of the work beauty can be traced.

Pythagoras; “… asserted that, whether in music or in the cosmos at large, perfect beauty consists of proper measurement, proportion and harmony” (pg. 43). Creation is order, and it is what people usually turn to first to describe beauty; honeycombs, the stars, the ocean, sunsets, mountain peaks, flowers blooming… orderly and symmetrical, measurable.

But. . . “Works of art are not the same kind of entity as the things they depict… they have a symbolic quality” (pg. 43).

What do we do with the idea of transcendence, this hope that the work of art will go beyond the simple beauty of creation as Pythagoras sees it and speak to something beyond comprehension, as Danto insists it must. Maybe the combination of the three; the pointing to Christ as we know, through what we see in creation, to speak to something beyond our understanding.

Beauty defined; “‘that which pleases when seen’…

… [but] this pleasure does not have to be “pleasing” in a conventional way or confirming way. Something may please because it is striking, or stunning or just plainly intriguing. Beauty invites us to linger on something, to explore the intricacy of its shapes and shades and to ponder its metaphorical associations” (pg. 44).

“For beauty to be redeemed it should be (re)connected with goodness and truth..” (pg. 45). I think that we look to Christ to see goodness, and we know truth to be that which God created/intended/reveals, and when those are understood or realized… we get beauty? The subtleties of this world are so beautiful… to avoid cliche I’ll avoid listing what I see around me right now. But the nuances of our surroundings are unending and God’s little whispers are relentless. I just need to open my eyes and ears gently; for the forcing of realization of God’s grace is the same as my forced attempts at placing meaning in my ceramic vessells. I think it all happens through realizing God’s presence. Everywhere. Then everywhere we look will inspire our work.

“Whatever one may think of the final product, the ‘beauty’ of such an event/work is again its capacity to draw us into its strangeness and seeming absurdity, and its evocative allusions to values long lost in our society. It allows us to discover or re-discover a new dimension about the world, and the world, in turn, reveals itself to us in ways we might not have seen before” (pg.46-47)… this is it; this is what I want my work to be about.

The final solution according to Chaplin? To pursue redemptive beauty – beauty that points to traces of the world’s original goodness. “A tasting of the Lord’s presence in the midst of it all… To seek and pursue redemptive beauty is therefore not merely a luxury pastime but a call to artists to become agents of restoration and reconciliation” (pg. 49).

And there are other conversations out there talking about similar things. An author from The Pathway states “but how do we compare the infinite beauty of God with the beauty found in a fallen world? How do we evaluate if a work of art is pressing towards the divine character of beauty? The answer lies in the connection between truth, beauty, and goodness.” Albert Mohler looks back to Plato and Augustine “Augustine suggested that Christians uniquely understand that the good, the beautiful, the true, and the real, are indeed one, because they are established in the reality of the self-revealing God–the triune God of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He alone is beautiful, He alone is good, He alone is true, and He alone is real.” Beautiful is directly tied to what is good, true and real. According to Mohler, you cannot have one without the others.

Confusingly though, and I’d love your thoughts on this, The Pathway goes on to say that the sculptor Auguste Rodin has gone to Hell because of his lifestyle…

“Auguste Rodin, the famous sculptor of The Thinker, ironically did not think rightly about beauty. He said, ‘There should be no argument in regard to morality in art. There is no morality in nature. Great art is beyond moral judgment. In art, immorality cannot exist. Art is always sacred.’ Rodin was wrong, and lived a lecherous life apart from God. His soul now resides in a place where beauty is absolutely absent. Heaven knows no ugliness. Hell knows no beauty.”

I’ve included images of Rodin’s work because it goes back to our conversations regarding O’Conner and Rowan Williams; one does not have to be a saint to create beautiful work, one must merely love what they are doing. I have been deeply moved by Rodin’s work. Whilst walking through Rodin’s Garden in France, I saw strikingly beautiful images. But does his moral principles, his intentions and conceptions, dictate the beauty of the work?

Sources:

It was Good – Making Art to the Glory of God

Photographs : Boston Magazinebostonmagazine.com

Alternate Conversations : The Pathway; mbcpathway.com + Albert Mohler; albertmohler.com

 

 

 

i’m finally doing it.

Karin Doty | interviewed on Faith and her calling

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Karin Doty is a small business owner and interior designer living and working in Colorado Springs, CO. Her business is Consign and Design Inc, a local consignment furniture boutique that offers design help both in-store and in-home. Before opening Consign and Design, Karin was a social worker, then a mom, a home stager, interior designer and now a small business owner. Karin is a beautiful servant of Jesus Christ, her savior. She is also my mother. She is also the most inspiring woman I know.

Where do you find your inspiration?

“Every day I pray; Lord give me a creative spirit – I pray for it! All the time. It’s not uncommon for me to pray for that several times a day. And I really feel that when I start answering the question or making the suggestions in the house or whatever it is, sometimes the stuff that comes out of me, I know it is from the spirit – because I called on my counselor! I believe the holy counselor inspires me – but in a more pragmatic way, I pour over magazines or Instagram. Businesses are trendy, and I have to understand the trends.”

How does your faith show up in your work?

“My faith gives me accountability. As a businesswoman it keeps me honest. As a designer, when I’m working with people in their home, I think my faith gives me humility. And also my background in social work, psychology and sociology; I communicate with people in a way where I’m sensitive towards them and their feelings. I don’t want to come in like a bull in a china shop. A lot of interior designers… they can be a little uppity, a little full of themselves, “this is what you need”, “get rid of that”, “that’s not good”, “that’s ridiculous”, I mean they come in to someone’s space and they’re like “bam, bam, bam, bam, bam”. And they leave the person feeling like, “wow I have no taste at all”. I really enjoy looking at the person and finding the value. I go in and I find out “what is your favorite thing about this room?”. And I am very careful not to tread on that one thing that they love. I might enhance it but I want to be humble. It’s not my space, its theirs. [Knowing their story] can bring meaning to what I am doing for them – honoring their story and their space.”

Do you ever face conflict with your faith and your work?

“All the time. I find myself more in conflict than without. Mainly, I don’t take religious decor in my store. The people that are offended by it are more outspoken than those who aren’t. There are fewer of them, but they are more outspoken about it. I find that there are times when I have to be careful – I love it when I go into someone’s home and we can make the connection about our faith. We’re on the same page and it changes the tone. When I can’t express my faith, it’s a bummer, I have to be silent.”

How has your upbringing influenced you?

“I was raised to be pretty outgoing, outspoken. We were raised to feel very confident that we could do most anything that we set our minds and hearts to. I wasn’t raised with a spirit of defeat or insecurity. I was raised with a spirit of “I can accomplish just about anything”. This made it easier for me to step out and take out a loan and open a business. The learning curve was just mind boggling. I had to take a lot of risks and I go out in the public and I need to be confident all the time. Just having confidence, being raised like this, I know it has helped me.”

“I always have to trust, in Philippians 4:19; that he will supply all my needs. Having my own business – I need faith.”

What would you have liked to know when you were 20?

“Two things; first, I wish I had pursued God’s will more to know what my dreams were. This is my second career. First it was social work, and I remember being asked; ‘why aren’t you an interior design major? All you want to do is reupholster furniture, strip furniture, rearrange the family room, clearly this is what you love.’ But I thought that would be frivolous and that I needed to do more meaningful work; like social work. But I think that if I had been encouraged to earlier, I mean I’m finally doing it! I won’t even call it work. When I was in social work, the alarm would go off and I got to the point after 10 years where I dreaded it. And that’s what’s so different now. I get to do this, I don’t have to. My advice would be; really pursue God’s will. Pray for clarity. I wish I had recognized my heart’s desire earlier. And it’s not to say that my time in social work was wasted. I learned so much and it has helped me now. I wish I had been bolder to follow my dream at a younger age.

The second is this; I wish I had been a better steward of my money. I now own my own business and every day depends on what I bring in. I’m obsessed with the bottom line. How much was bought and sold? Did I come out ahead or behind? God has given me finances since I was 18. I wish I had managed what he had given me. I could have saved more, invested more, not been… I mean I am praying for a big harvest. But at the same time I’m asking for forgiveness for not being a good steward for the first two times he has blessed me with a big harvest. I’m praying for God to give me a third chance and let me be a better steward. You have to be really careful with everything God gives you. He will trust you, bless you with finances. I wish I had been a little less “by-gosh and by-golly”, instead I wish I had made a business plan earlier.”

What is your dream?

“Like if I could have anything I wanted? Like totally huge? I would love to own my own building, further down by the mountain, and out back have another separate building that would be a ceramics studio… for you and Lauren! And you would be teaching classes and working in that studio and we would have consignment and then when I was ready to retire I would give you this multi-million-dollar business. If it were all about me… I would win the Home and Garden Dream Home, but it’s about family. It’s about having a legacy to leave to family.”

The way my mom integrates her faith with her daily life is so encouraging. I have watched her walk this out for years, and it is something that I wish more people could witness. God wove together everything about our lives. Karin truly sees that, and the way she walks out her days is a true reflection of God’s goodness and grace. I am proud to be her daughter and I am proud of her creative life and her business!

If you want to follow along with what Karin is doing, you can check out her Instagram @consignanddesigninc and on her website; consignanddesigninc.com where you can also follow along with her blog.

 

 

how are you?

“It is not the believers’ goal to integrate their art with the Faith, rather the art of God’s chosen people must spring from faith” (Bustard, pg. 22).

Ned Bustard : Good | It was Good – Making Art to the Glory of God

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“I Made This For You # 2″, mixed media on canvas, 56″ x 85”, Heather Day

How are you? I’m doing good, how are you?

I probably use the word good over 20 times a day, if not more (i’ll give it some attention today) but I hadn’t given the meaning of the word much thought until this section of It was Good. What things or people or actions get called good by me? Good jokes, good coffee, good artwork, my mood, my food, the way my room smells… Bustard chooses to define “good” by looking back to how the Bible uses the term.”The word for good in Greek is kalos. Kalos has the sense of aesthetically beautiful and morally good, and pertains to that good which brings joy to God” (Bustard, pg. 19). It is a beautiful picture, that something we find to be good, and delight in, God also delights in. It also makes the word good more sacred – I would agree and say that I use the term to describe aesthetically beautiful things… but “morally good – which brings joy to God”? That makes the idea of making good art, a little more daunting of a task; to make work that brings joy to God…

God, the ultimate creator; my creator. And God created ultimate beauty. And God called his creation good. I would say that if God called something good, that he is right. So everything God created is good. Everything. Sweet, glad we know something. But we also all know how the story goes, so we know that creation has fallen. So… it was good. But now it’s not?

“What the Almighty made was good in every way for its purpose. It was useful, healthy, and morally perfect” (Bustard, pg. 18).

Bustard leans in to the idea that there is no such thing as evil alone. Evil is just a skewed version of something good. Good can live without evil, but evil would not exist without good. Good is just bent, using C.S.Lewis’ terminology. The “good” news is that even though our perception of good is skewed, good is still very much present in our day to day experience. “Using the word bent to describe the experience in the world around us is helpful because we know.. that creation is groaning under the burden of the Fall, and yet it is not completely perverse because we are still able to see God’s goodness as we look into His handiwork” (Bustard, pg. 21). Goodness is still here and it can be “seen in the beauty of the earth and in Man, the image-bearer of God” (pg.18). So the problem is that we view God’s perfect “good” in a bent way… but if we can understand that, we can practice seeing God’s goodness despite our misconceptions.

There is always this follow up questions of well now what?. Well, now we look to creation for inspiration. [The baffling news to me comes when I try to think of what is not God’s creation…]  We fuel our minds, our art-making, with the goodness surrounding us; careful not to look only at the evil. It is important to acknowledge the deep trials in our world – but if that is all we see, good will slowly shrink from our perceptions. But it is important to see goodness in the reality of being bent… we live in a bent world, but it is still a beautiful one. A contemporary artist who I see to be making good work is Heather Day. Her “art is a form of visual storytelling interested in conveying moments of interactions. The philosophy that everything is a product of an experience frames each work, conveying stories of movement and ideas of color through seams, lines, and layers”. Day looks to nature for her inspiration and I believe that the beauty and goodness she sees in the world we live in, reflects back on the work she creates (which I think is really GOOD)!!

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Heather Day in her studio

“We need to practice good to understand more about it” (Bustard, pg. 23).

Sources:

It was Good | Making Art to the Glory of God

The art of Heather Day | instagram + website