What’s wrong with message art?

What’s wrong with message art? November 20, 2014


PIC 3d crucifixion tattoo

If you’re a Christian artist, and you want to use your skill to make the world better, I’m begging you: never lead with the message. Instead, listen with your inner ear until something hits that special note. You don’t even have to know why it resounds for you; just listen, and tell other people what you heard. Hone your skills, stay close to God in your personal life, always be looking and listening for new things . . .  and above all, take off that delivery man’s uniform. That’s not your gig. 

Read the rest at the Register.

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  • Fr. David Hudgins

    Brilliant! Thank you!

  • Emily M

    This is a great talk on the subject, if you have an hour: http://vimeo.com/38932241
    tl;dr: The artist’s job is to make beautiful art; the Holy Spirit’s job is to speak to hearts. Therefore, “message art”, intentionally or not, is an act of distrust that the Holy Spirit will do his part.

    • Dan F.

      Great tl:dr summary. Thanks! Makes me want to actually watch the video (if I had an hour)

  • Christopher Hall

    Dude (can I call you dude?), you get it.

  • Kristen inDallas

    Completely agree with you about the approach to good art. We may disagree about what tattoos are for though. For a commissioned piece, drawn on the body of the person doing the commissioning, designed to make a statement about or serve as a reminder for that Person… this Jesus sleeve is about as good as it gets.

    I don’t think most people who tattoo themselves are doing it to serve as a walking canvas for the artistically deprived. It’s a much more personal thing than that. And fwiw when I first saw this pic I thought the message was more of a “uniting my suffering to Christ’s suffering” sort of thing. If that tattoo inspires the guy who got it to reflect on what ever stuff he’s going through before getting all tortured-soul and sitting his wrists (again?) then the tattoo did it’s job.

    • Kristen inDallas

      For most people I know with religious tattoos, it’s not just about the art, And it definitely isn’t about evangelization or being a walking billboard for Christ. It’s about a real need to have that image or verse with you at all times. Some people wear crucifixes, some carry prayer cards, For people experienced in waking up in strange places without knowing where their wallet/jewelry/dignity went. .. something a bit more permanent might be warranted.

      Reflecting on Emily’s really awesome comment… when it comes to tattoos (as opposed to most other art) the distrust isn’t in the holy spirits ability to say something powerful, it’s in the self’s ability to hear it. As in “I don’t trust myself to remember the thing I know is true and beautiful; let me have someone etch it into my skin so my Dumas self has no choice but to confront it on a daily basis. “

      • Kate Cousino

        I’ve got a fairly religiously-inspired tattoo, though I went for a compact bit of symbolism rather than hit-you-in-the-face photorealism.

        Simcha commented on FB that the problem with *this* particular tattoo is that the optical illusion has the potential to get downright awkward, if not inappropriate. Unless the guy is, for example, never again going to use his left hand when visiting the loo, or making love to his wife, or eating french fries. Seriously, imagine Jesus on the cross with a french fry in his hand!