Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Idol of Paint

Gordon’s Faith Seeking Understanding lecture series is a staple of intellectual life on campus. Providing a venue for first-rate speakers to share their insights on Christian thought and culture, these events serve the very core purpose of the College’s liberal arts focus.

Last week’s Faith Seeking Understanding guest was Nigel Goodwin, executive director of the Genesis Arts Trust in London. “Nigel is a man who has spent his life stirring up Christian artists to think deeply and to work at a level of excellence that is worthy of our Creator. He has encouraged hundreds, maybe even thousands of Christians in the arts to engage culture seriously with their art—at conferences and large gatherings as well as in green rooms, studios and offices,” says Jeff Miller, professor of theatre arts at Gordon College. “If it’s true that we stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before us, Christian artists today certainly stand on shoulders of the likes of Nigel Goodwin who have invested their lives in bringing their faith to their art.”
The convocation began with a dramatic rendering of a passage from C. S. Lewis’ The Great Divorce, performed by Ryan Coil ’13 and Carl Schultz ’13, which set the stage for a discussion of art’s value in an eternal, God-centered context. Goodwin was then interviewed onstage by Gordon’s Lothlórien Distinguished Chair in the Fine Arts, Bruce Herman. The two explored issues of technology’s burden and blessing to a new generation of artists, an obsession with celebrity, and the process of “dying to the idol of paint,” as Goodwin described. There is real danger, the speaker explained, in allowing the medium—be it paint or the stage or the piano—to eschew the true Creator and become the focus of one’s art.

After the event (which Goodwin closed with a reading of Micheal O’Siadhail’s poem “Hail! Madam Jazz”), the speaker graciously continued over lunch the conversation on art and faith with any students who were interested.

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