Religious subjects in art LEARNING OBJECTIVE – To consider whether religious art has to have a religious subject. By the end of the lesson All must – be able to identify religious subjects and consider whether they are necessary for religious art. Most should – be able to identify symbolism in the art. Some could – consider what makes a picture religious or non religious.
List what would you consider to be a ‘religious subject’ for art?
Can art be religious if it doesn’t have a religious subject?
The Dilemma of Obedience By Mark Lawrence
“ And Samuel was afraid to tell Eli the vision.” 1 Samuel 3:15 Do you remember the last time that you absolutely knew that God was speaking to you? I think that He is always trying to get my attention, but it seems that the only way times that I am really focused on listening are when I am under tremendous pressure. When my life is in the furnace-of-affliction I am desperate to hear His voice and instruction. I am in one of those seasons now in my life. I know that God is speaking loudly to me. My life is upside down and I seem helpless to be able to get my footing. The vision in my spirit however is very clear. God is in absolute control of every event and trial that is allowed to buffet me. As a child of God I am not a victim of these circumstances in my life. “ Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.” Job 13:15
In the Presence of the Light by Kate Austin
Embraced by Light by Kate Austin
The Door by Kate Austin
Although Kate has always loved art she has had no formal training. She began to paint mainly oil on plywood after receiving a 'calling' from God. Kate paints all of the pictures during prayer. Kate’s own words: “ I have had my share of tragedy and difficulty, no more or less than others. I have many supportive friends who have encouraged, prayed with and for, and helped me up when I have fallen. I have come through those times with a greater depth of trust in my Father and a greater understanding of my own weakness and His Strength. I thank Him for those times and the change He has wrought in me through them. One of the most important things about my walk is the way Father has led me to pray, I believe prayer is the process of knowing and becoming known progressively, it is more listening than it is talking, more stillness than activity. My desire is to be so completely filled with Him that He is not just a part of me but all of me and I am a part of Him. All the glory for who I am goes to my Father God as my creator.”
The Juggler by Stephen S Sawyer
Artist Stephen S Sawyer is nationally known for his portraits and internationally known for his "Art for God" series. The reproductions can be found in over 100 countries. Stephen’s need to visually express the profound nature of faith is the driving momentum and influence behind his work. Here is what some people have said about Steve's anointed art: --- "Steve’s work has always been a blessing to me. He captures not only the detail, but also the very spirit of what God is saying. You have to go back several times to get the whole message. It’s prophecy with a paintbrush, preaching by canvas, divine inspiration through art. --- Graham Cooke, United Christian Ministries, Southampton, England
Tree of Life by Leonie Marklew
Based in Worcestershire UK, Leonie studied art and design prior to studying Theatre and Performance Design at Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts where she graduated in 2004 with a First Class BA honours degree. Since September 2005 Leonie has been working as a freelance artist in Christian ministry. Her work is an expression of faith and spirituality drawing upon biblical scripture and Christian themes. She aims to explore theological understanding, interpretation and to celebrate this creative and spiritual journey with others. Leonie has displayed, sold and donated her work to places within the community which include hospitals, places of retreat as well as places of worship. About this piece Tree of Life- Acrylic on Canvas inspired by Genesis 2: 8-14 and Revelation 22:1-5 ‘Now the LORD God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. 9 And the LORD God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.’
Nautilus Song by Sharon Smith
After a career spanning some 18 years in town planning and urban design, in 2001 my passion to express the beauty of God and his creation in the natural world around us was ignited. “ The graceful curve of the spiral occurs in nature more often than any other shape. Each of the spiral's successive swirls is wider by a seemingly arbitrary but fixed factor. In using the Nautilus shell to create this image, I was expressing how well the universe can be described mathematically and how God is the ultimate mathematician. How much He must love us, if He put this much care into the creation of a simple shell.”
Sanctuary by Rita Wheatley
"Sanctuary" A vision of Christ, the Light of the World, offering sanctuary to all who enter.
If you do it to the least of these by Dawn Waters Baker
This piece relates to my faith as it tells the passage, Matthew 25:31-46 where Jesus tells the story of those who are accepted into heaven and those who are not. The sheep and the goats. One of the most powerful things about that passage is His passion for the hungry, thirsty, poor and the imprisoned, for He says, "If you do it to one of these you have done it unto Me." We know that salvation comes from a personal relationship with Jesus Christ but it is also important to show the difference Christ makes by acting on that relationship.
Task two - Discussion
Where do you think these pieces of art would be best displayed? A church, a home, a school etc?
Would you need to know the artist’s interpretation of their meaning to understand them; or can you find your own meaning?
How may they help with personal devotion?
Task three – Written work and Discussion
Use examples from the lesson today to answer these questions.
Did you identify the pictures as being ‘religious’?
Is there a difference between a ‘religious’ picture and a ‘spiritual’ picture.
What makes a picture religious or non religious?
Based on what you have looked at today, do you think that religious art has to have a religious subject?
Complete the essay below using ideas and examples from the pictures and written work from this lesson, and other pictures if you wish.
Use the mark scheme you are given to judge the level you are likely to receive for this essay.
Assess the view that religious art has to have a religious subject. (15 marks)