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It’s Oscar season, and the social scene is focused on the accomplishments of screenwriters, directors, actors, and cinematographers. There are, however, multiple visual media by which viewers are lured into new visions, some quite ancient and others very new—paintings and icons, sculpture and bronzes and tapestries; video games, photography, performance art, theater.

Every religious tradition has had occasion to proselytize, inspire, and educate through art. What are the theologies behind artistic representations? In what ways does art persuade, proselytize, or reveal truth? What medium is most conducive to a particular religious tradition and why?


Beyond the Oscars: Religion and Visual Art

Artist of the Month: Matt Clark's Amphibians, Minotaurs, and other Christian Art

Artist of the Month: Matt Clark's Amphibians, Minotaurs, and other Christian Art

Simcha Fisher

Matt Clark is a teacher, print maker, and freelance illustrator; his work sees no distinction between the natural and the supernatural.

The Responsibility of the Artist

The Responsibility of the Artist

Makoto Fujimura

Perhaps we can work toward a culture where artists can be seen not as transgressors but as leaders of moral courage in a free society.

Rembrandt and the Courage to See: A Meditation on His Self-Portrait, 1659

Rembrandt and the Courage to See: A Meditation on His Self-Portrait, 1659

Jude Harmon

Unmasking our vanity and our pride, Rembrandt exposes our failure of nerve — that part of us that wants to look away from an unvarnished view of ourselves.

Art as Liberation from Captivity

Art as Liberation from Captivity

David Hayward

I'm turned off by art that is preaching or propagandizing or trying to convert me. Art may move me, but when that's its intention it often doesn't.

All Beauty as God's Beauty: Outside Symbolism in Scripture Illumination

All Beauty as God's Beauty: Outside Symbolism in Scripture Illumination

Heather Walker Peterson

The Saint John's Bible is a great gift for those of us who revere scripture, confident that all truth is God's truth, and ready to embrace all beauty as God's beauty.

To Put the Pieces Together

To Put the Pieces Together

Jan Richardson

Artists are people willing to turn toward the brokenness of the world, choosing to remain present to the scraps and shards until we begin to imagine what the fragments could become, and what new life God could breathe into them.

Beauty in Muslim and Christian Art: Drawing Us Into God's Goodness

Beauty in Muslim and Christian Art: Drawing Us Into God's Goodness

Peggy Rosenthal

Despite Islam's and Christianity's different foundational statements about creativity, there's a deep resonance between the two faiths in the centrality they give to beauty — and to the arts as making visible the beauty whose only fullness can be God.

A Tapestry of Metaphor: Art and the Pagan Spirit

A Tapestry of Metaphor: Art and the Pagan Spirit

Paul B. Rucker

All acts of creativity and craft — from cooking styles, sayings and folkways, to story telling, performance and artisan works, to the "purest" fine arts — form the invisible matrix by which our culture teaches itself about itself.

Dad Was Opposed to the

Dad Was Opposed to the "Humanism of the Renaissance," but He Loved the Art!

Frank Schaeffer

I saw Dad as he might have been, free of the crushing belief that God had "called" him to save the world. And my father became my biggest fan when I began to paint more and more seriously.

Art, Magic, and Pagan Theology

Art, Magic, and Pagan Theology

Aaminah Shakur

In paganisms, the acts of creation of or participation in various arts are often a form of magic.

Experiencing Art: Beyond the Symbol

Experiencing Art: Beyond the Symbol

Tom Swiss

If religious art is to be a pointer to a religious experience, it must not be too captivating, must not tempt the viewer's eye to stick on the finger rather than continuing on to the moon.

Commentary From Our Blogging Community

A Medievalist Considers Inculturation in the Sacred Art

A Medievalist Considers Inculturation in the Sacred Art

Guest Contributor

by Daniel Mitsui Early in 2010, a priest commissioned me to draw Saint Michael in the style of a Japanese woodblock print. At the time, I had little knowledge of East Asian art, despite having some Japanese ancestors. My strongest artistic influence was (and remains) the religious art of medieval Europe. My patrons soon began [Read More...]

“Go On”: Interview with Jack Baumgartner, Part III

“Go On”: Interview with Jack Baumgartner, Part III

Elizabeth Duffy

    ED: …You spoke about maintaining your integrity, and it would seem that maintaining the integrity of your school, and discerning which technologies to allow into it, means that there are also many technologies and cultural influences that you have to reject. Can you talk about some of those tensions and trade-offs, and about [Read More...]

“Hunger”: Interview with Jack Baumgartner, Part IV

“Hunger”: Interview with Jack Baumgartner, Part IV

Elizabeth Duffy

  ED: Your work reveals wide ranging Biblical literacy, but also a certain world weariness. Were you raised in Church? Any rhyme or reason to what Biblical passages translate into your artwork? JB: World-weariness…? Maybe. I’ll be honest that sometimes I don’t want to be here. I also feel that I have a lot to [Read More...]

The House Where Beauty Lives

The House Where Beauty Lives

Peggy Rosenthal

On my walls? Yes, there's beauty aplenty. Not prettiness, necessarily, but Beauty.