The Faithful Artist
The tension between Christianity and the arts is often real. But it also offers a false dichotomy. Many Christian artists think that they must choose between their faith and their artistic calling.
Drawing upon his experiences as both a Christian and a practicing artist, Cameron J. Anderson explores the dynamics of faith and art in this Studies in Theology and the Arts volume. Tracing the relationship between evangelicalism and modern art in postwar America—two entities that often found themselves at odds with each other—Anderson raises several issues that confront artists. With skill, sensitivity, and insight, he considers questions such as the role of our bodies and our senses in our experience of the arts, the relationship between text and image, the persistent dangers of idolatry, the possibility of pursuing God through an encounter with beauty, and more.
Throughout this study, Anderson's principal concern is how Christian artists can faithfully pursue their vocational calling in contemporary culture. Readers will find here not only an informed and thoughtful response, but also a vision that offers guidance and hope.
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.
"Cam Anderson has read a lot of good books and that's part of what makes this book so rich and rewarding. But, far more importantly, this book represents a lifelong engagement with the arts and a deep faithfulness to Anderson's roots in the evangelical church. So this is a personal book in the best possible sense. It is, to quote Eugene Peterson, evidence of 'a long obedience in the same direction.'"
"Cam Anderson's vision inspires, challenges and encourages me. He is wise about creativity, faithful about imagination and provocative about beauty. We are invited into a deeper humanity and a greater faithfulness to the Artist who made us. I am so grateful for this book and believe many other readers will be too!"
"This is a thoughtful, remarkable book that will help evangelical Christians face their history of shunning modern art. As a convinced follower of Jesus Christ, Anderson lovingly laments the past evangelical practice of pitting binary opposites against one another: soul against body, word against image, church ministry against being an artist. Anderson shows how the millennia of church history and a fresh biblical stance can overcome these polarities. Through his writing, which is extremely well researched and gives evidence of many years of wide reading, he convincingly shows how visual culture can be central to piety and how artistry is a worthy occupation for believers. This work is exciting, people friendly, deeply faithful and wise."
"From the perspective of his longtime dual residency in both the modern art world and the evangelical church, my good friend Cam Anderson is uniquely qualified to lead evangelicals and artists to understand and love one another. As I encountered a wide range of modern art in his book (Manet, Monet, Newman, Rothko, Warhol, Pollock and many others) I experienced a sense of wonder at the power and elegance of work that I had not noticed or appreciated before. For Christians seeking an aesthetic adventure in the modern art world and for Christian artists working to fulfill their God-given vocation, this book provides excellent guidance from one who is a faithful Christian and a gifted artist."
"Cam Anderson's The Faithful Artist is the most probing analysis ever written on the roots of the negative attitude of twentieth-century evangelicals toward the visual arts. Anderson knows evangelicalism from the inside. What greatly enhances his analysis is that it is set within the context of a broad, deep and sympathetic understanding of developments in the world of the visual arts in the twentieth century. The book reaches its climax with an eloquent, biblically based appeal to evangelicals to engage the visual arts, both as creators and as viewers. We have needed this very book for a long time."
"In The Faithful Artist Cam Anderson extends an intellectual welcome to readers who may feel that modern and contemporary art are an exclusive party, a private conversation for an artistic elite. By skillfully unpacking cultural factors leading to the modernist rejection of traditional artistic forms, he reveals some of the reasons for art's estrangement from educated laypersons. Anderson then clarifies for Christians why art still matters in the midst of tensions between traditional religious belief and modern aesthetic sensibility—issuing a compelling call for artists to rediscover their accountability and calling within the body of Christ, broken afresh for the life of the world. Additionally he makes a vital argument for why the church needs art and artists, providing genuine answers for how these might once again find their way into healthy communion with one another."
"In this detailed overview and synthesis, Cameron Anderson opens up the mysteries of contemporary art, describing how works of art may operate as lenses through which to view the seen and unseen within culture. This illuminating book allows the double foci on faith and art to converge, introducing us to the worldview of the Ultimate Artist."
"An engaging and carefully researched summation of where Christian faith and visual art have been and where they may be headed. Artists are invited to take a seat at a wedding feast where binary opposition withers and an enriched complexity emerges. Observing how conviction and restless longing coexist in 'the faithful artist,' Anderson sets out to illuminate a way forward."
List of Illustrations
1. A Double-Consciousness
2. The Body They May Kill
3. Secular Sirens
4. Be Careful Little Eyes What You See
5. A People of the Book and the Image
6. A Semblance of a Whole
7. The Music of the Spheres
8. An Aesthetic Pilgrimage