Contemporary Art and the Church: A Conversation Between Two Worlds, Edited by W. David O. Taylor and Taylor Worley alt

Contemporary Art and the Church

A Conversation Between Two Worlds

Studies in Theology and the Arts Series

Edited by W. David O. Taylor and Taylor Worley

Contemporary Art and the Church
  • Length: 246 pages
  • Dimensions: 0 × 0 in
  • Published: June 20, 2017
  • Imprint: IVP Academic
  • Item Code: 9030
  • ISBN: 9780830890309

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The church and the contemporary art world often find themselves in an uneasy relationship in which misunderstanding and mistrust abound.

On one hand, the leaders of local congregations, seminaries, and other Christian ministries often don't know what to make of works by contemporary artists. Not only are these artists mostly unknown to church leaders, they and their work often lead them to regard the world of contemporary art with indifference, frustration, or even disdain.

On the other hand, many artists lack any meaningful experience with the contemporary church and are mostly ignorant of its mission. Not infrequently, these artists regard religion as irrelevant to their work, are disinclined to trust the church and its leaders, and have experienced personal rejection from these communities.

In response to this situation, the 2015 biennial conference of Christians in the Visual Arts (CIVA) facilitated a conversation between these two worlds. This volume gathers together essays and reflections by artists, theologians, and church leaders as they sought to explore misperceptions, create a hospitable space to learn from each other, and imagine the possibility of a renewed and mutually fruitful relationship. Contemporary Art and the Church seeks common ground for the common good of both the church and the contemporary art world.

The Studies in Theology and the Arts  series encourages Christians to thoughtfully engage with the relationship between their faith and artistic expression, with contributions from both theologians and artists on a range of artistic media including visual art, music, poetry, literature, film, and more.

"What a rich and vibrant colloquy on the visual arts and theology! I can hear the voices behind the words—multivalent, wise, contemporary, galvanizing. They offer a comprehensive understanding of CIVA, the growing movement that partners faith with contemporary art."

Luci Shaw, writer in residence, Regent College, author of Thumbprint in the Clay and Sea Glass

"For nearly eighteen hundred years, the Christian church was one of the prime patrons of art, allowing a pivotal role for art and artist. Yet for the past two centuries, artists have been largely estranged from their old patron for many reasons, not in the least due to a sea-change in art's self-understanding. Contemporary Art and the Church explores a new basis for that old relationship, functioning like a generous invitation to join an ongoing conversation between experts who are surprisingly interested in the layperson's role in this important project: reenvisioning a role for art and artist in the church in this still-new century."

Bruce Herman, Lothlórien Distinguished Chair in Fine Arts, Gordon College

"In the art world, it's always October (October being the name of the Marxist journal that has long dominated the field). This essay collection shows that many are ready to flip the calendar to see what a new season will bring. Contemporary Art and the Church affords further evidence that glasnost ('openness') and perestroika ('restructuring') are challenging the enduring Cold War between art and religion, which requires rethinking from both sides of the divide. The authors shout in unison, 'Tear down this wall,' and it finally feels like 1989."

Matthew J. Milliner, associate professor of art history, Wheaton College

"This volume stems from the 2015 biennial conference of CIVA (Christians in the Visual Arts), an organisation founded in the late 1970s to encourage dialogue between the church and visual arts. How different the situation is between now and then is well illustrated by this remarkably fine collection of essays. Those present at the society's inception provide a short section that surveys the dire situation then and the transformation since. Without abandoning evangelical and biblical roots, a new confidence and maturity has been achieved among both the practicing artists and art theorists represented, demonstrated, among other ways, in creative engagement with a wide range of contemporary art, including perhaps unexpected figures such as Emin, Klein, Hamilton, and Warhol. Whatever their theological perspective, readers will gain much from these at times profound reflections of how and where the Spirit's address to Christians can sometimes be found."

David Brown, emeritus professor of theology, aesthetics and culture, The University of St Andrews

"This text is highly recommended as a valuable resource in both theology and art libraries, and as advanced reading for those engaged in similar conversations."

Ryan Stander, Horizons: The Journal of the College Theology Society, December 2018


Introduction (W. David O. Taylor and Taylor Worley)

Starting Points
1 A Conversation Between Contemporary Art and the Church (Wayne Roosa)
2 Art and Christian Pilgrimage: A Response to Wayne Roosa (Linda Stratford)
3 On the Strange Place of Religious Writing in Contemporary Art (Jonathan A. Anderson)
4 Artists as Witnesses in the Church (Sandra Bowden Marianne Lettieri)

5 Can Contemporary Art Be Devotional Art? (Ben Quash)
6 Graced Encounters: A Response to Ben Quash (Taylor Worley)
7 Something From Nothing: A Theology of Nothingness and Silence for Yves Klein?s Le Vide (Christina L. Carnes Ananias)
8 (Con)Founded Theology: A Haptic Pneumatology for Contemporary Art (Chelle Stearns)

9 Contemporary Art and Corporate Worship: Imago Dei in the Twenty-First Century (Katie Kresser)
10 Which Art? What Worship? A Response to Katie Kresser (W. David O. Taylor)
11 Art, Place, and the Church: Thinking Theologically About Contemporary Art in the Worship Space (Jennifer Allen Craft)
12 Finding Its Place: How Karl Barth?s Ecclesiology Can Help the Church Embrace Contemporary Art (David W. McNutt)

13 The Origins and Mission of CIVA: A Symposium (Sandra Bowden, Marleen Hengelaar-Rookmaaker, Theodore Prescott, and Calvin Seerveld, moderated by Nicholas Wolterstorff)
14 Contemporary Artists in the Public Square: A Symposium (David Hooker, Joyce Lee, Steve Prince, and Mandy Cano Villalobos, moderated by Kevin Hamilton)
15 Helping your Neighbor See Surprises: Advice to Recent Graduates (Calvin Seerveld)
16 Saving the World (Cameron J. Anderson)

List of Contributors
Author Index
Subject Index
Scripture Index


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W. David O. Taylor

W. David O. Taylor (ThD, Duke Divinity School) is Associate Professor of Theology and Culture at Fuller Theological Seminary and the author of several books, including A Body of Praise,  and Glimpses of the New Creation; he is also the editor of For the Beauty of the Church as well as co-editor of Contemporary Art and the Church and of The Art of New Creation.

Taylor Worley

Taylor Worley (PhD, The University of St Andrews) is associate professor of faith and culture as well as associate vice president for spiritual life and ministries at Trinity International University in Deerfield, Illinois. In both these roles, he focuses on enabling students to see how their gifts and passions can be leveraged for greater vocational impact in the kingdom of God. He is coeditor of Theology, Aesthetics, and Culture: Responses to the Work of David Brown.