Beyond the Image

  In addition to my weekly blog posts here at Cultivare, I am also contributing as a guest over at “Good Letters: Words Made Flesh,” a blog of IMAGE: A Journal of Art and Faith and hosted over at Patheos. You can read my second post,“Beyond the Image,” which explores what a painting is and is not. [Read more...]

My Kid Can Do That

Pablo Picasso, Guernica, 1937, Reina Sofia, Madrid “My kid can do that” is a common accusation leveled against modern artists whose paintings look nothing like the Mona Lisa, the Sistine Chapel Ceiling, or a Thomas Kinkade print. As a museum curator I heard this numerous times. Modern art frustrates our presumptions of what art should [Read More...]

Us and Them

I was invited to give a chapel talk at Biola University in La Mirada, California in the spring of 2011. I spoke about how the book of Jonah is a story about us and them, revealing that the grace that God shows to the unrighteous infuriates those of us who think we are righteous. Unfortunately, [Read More...]

A Message in a Bottle

  God calls an artist to be a particular kind of artist in a particular kind of way in the world. This specificity reveals the diversity of artistic practice and the various ways that it is embodied institutionally. Most Christian thinking about art, however, ignores this basic social reality, which every artist (Christian or not) [Read More...]

Art and Faithful Presence

  Mako Fujimura’s new studio, Princeton, New Jersey. Photo courtesy Robert Puglisi Artists must make decisions all the time. Even before an artist paints on a canvas, it is already the result of a decision to make the painting surface that size and not another. Every brushstroke is the result of a decision to put [Read More...]

Luther, Evangelicals, and Modern Art

Lucas Cranach the Elder, The Wittenberg Altarpiece, 1547, Wittenberg, Germany Modern and contemporary painting is the heart of my theology of culture. It is not the kind of cultural practice, however, that receives any positive attention from evangelical cultural theologians and critics, for whom art is irrelevant at best and harmful at worst. But painting [Read More...]

Hope Amidst the Ruins in Charlottesville

At the end of the month I’ll be speaking at the Mockingbird Ministries fall conference at Christ Episcopal Church in Charlottesville, Virginia, September 28-29. The theme is High, Low & In Between: Hope Amidst the Ruins, and if you happen to be in the area, consider spending the weekend with us. Through on-line articles, publications, conferences, and [Read More...]

Melville’s Epilogue

  In 1857 an exhausted and depressed Herman Melville travelled to Jerusalem in an effort to recover his Christian faith. He returned bitterly disappointed with what he apparently didn’t find. Unfortunately, Melville’s life-long struggle with faith is not the exception in the history of modern art and literature. This history is characterized by loss, brokenness, [Read More...]

The Hilarious Violence of Grace

Grace is a nice idea until it happens to you. Theologian George Hunsinger writes, Grace does not mean continuity but radical discontinuity, not reform but revolution, not violence but nonviolence, not the perfecting of virtues but the forgiveness of sins, not improvement but resurrection from the dead. He continues, grace is not a matter of repairing [Read More...]

Velázquez, Dwarfs, and the Contradiction of Graceful Painting

The Spanish artist Diego Velázquez (1599-1660) is a contradiction. His disarming virtuosity, combined with an ambivalent attitude toward painting that borders on contempt, resulted in one of the most stunning and enigmatic careers of any artist in the Western tradition. He also produced some of the most graceful paintings in the history of art. Velázquez’s [Read More...]


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