Forming a Biblical Aesthetic
Each week, we will look at various passages of scripture or a reading from other sources that address Biblical principles and the arts. You will be asked to read and prayerfully consider the assigned passage(s) and keep a weekly journal of your reflections. This journal will provide a foundation upon which you will begin to develop your own biblically informed aesthetic. You will be required to post your entries every week. Your journal entries will not be shared with the class, to protect your privacy.
This Week’s Assigned Reading: Psalm 19
INSTRUCTIONS: Please read Psalm 19 in its entirety. You can read it from your own Bible or visit the following link to read it online. https://biblehub.com/esv/psalms/19.htm Before you read the passage, pray and ask the Lord to speak to you about the passage. Listen to what He says. Meditate on it. Ponder over it. What was impressed upon you? What does this Psalm say to you about God, about yourself, about creation What truths and/or guiding principles do you gather from this passage of Scripture that you think will help you in the graphic arts industry as an artist and as a follower of Jesus? Post your answers to these questions and your thoughts in the journal by clicking on the link above. Feel free to add any images, sketches, video, audio, whatever might inspire you from this reading.
What is a “Biblically Informed Aesthetic” and Why Does it Matter?
The word aesthetic refers to that which is “concerned with beauty or the appreciation of beauty”. Beauty is defined as “a combination of qualities, such as shape, color, or form, that pleases the aesthetic senses, especially the (sense of) sight.”
Aesthetics is defined as “a set of principles concerned with the nature and appreciation of beauty, especially in art.” A Biblically informed aesthetic then refers to a set of principles (fundamental truths or propositions that serve as the foundation for a system of belief or behavior…) about beauty and the appreciation of beauty that includes fundamental truths from the Bible that help guide and govern your personal beliefs and behaviorregarding your work as a graphic artist. Not just the physical works you produce, but how and why you produce them, and for whom.”Whom” you might ask? Yes. Whom.
Art comes in many forms; literature, music, dance, theatre, drawing, painting, sculpting, printmaking, film-making as well as photography. All of art involves creativity, which is defined as “the use of the imagination or original ideas, especially in the production of an artistic work.” So, creativity involves both the imagination and action or work. The end goal for a creative, particularly a graphic artist, is to communicate or express an idea, thought, belief, or feeling or to inform using the vehicle of the visual arts. Expression is defined as “the process of making known one’s thoughts or feelings.” So, as photographers, whose thoughts or beliefs are we conveying or communicating? Ours? Our client’s? Our boss’? What are the thoughts and beliefs we are communicating through our work rooted in?
Why is it important to have a biblically informed aesthetic? Precisely because all of art is an expression of a thought, idea, belief and/or feeling, all from from a person who has a world view (a particular philosophy of life or conception of the world) that is either informed by and grounded in the Holy Bible or is grounded in something else. Granted, there is some gray in all of this. It’s not as black-and-white as it may seem. The important thing for us as believers and followers of Jesus, is that we grow up into Him in all things (Ephesians 4:15), including our philosophies and beliefs and the principles that guide us in our “creations” as photographers and artists as well as our work ethic and our attitude towards our neighbors (as defined by Jesus in Luke 10:25-37).
The act of artistic creation starts from within a person. Whether it is expressed through a poem, a drawing, a dance, a song, a design, or a photograph, it starts from within, and as believers and followers of Jesus, we have a treasure in us, that is, the indwelling Holy Spirit who was present with God when He created the heavens and the earth and everything that has ever been created, including you, and everything beautiful. This is a powerful truth that we should not ignore.
Having a Biblically informed (influenced) aesthetic is important because it comes from the source of light and truth itself, not just in the written letter, but in the words, ideas, concepts and understanding that a living God breathes into us through His written word, which is living and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword. (Hebrews 4:12)
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