ABOUT ENGAGE ART
Creativity comes in many forms, but ultimately, it’s inspiration made tangible. It’s taking something that’s only an idea and turning it into something you can share with others. This is the work of a creator, an inventor, an artist. The Engage Art Contest empowers artists like you by providing a platform to share your original work.
– Flannery O’Connor
“If the main contribution that Christians make to culture is complaining about it, we’re doing something wrong.”
– T.M. Moore, theologian, poet, and Principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe
Engaging in the arts means you engage with culture.
When you create art, your subject matter, aesthetic, genre, and point of view are a reflection of and a response to your own cultural experience. When you respond to art, you also bring your own point of view and lived experience with you.
All of the individual artworks being made by filmmakers, musicians, potters, and all the rest; all the museum collections and comic books; all the dance crazes, songs, poems, etc., they all get mashed together to create the culture we all get to live in.
In Culture Care, visual artist Makoto Fujimura says, “Culture is not a territory to be won or lost but a resource we are called to steward with care. Culture is a garden to be cultivated.” Engage Art is a new opportunity for you to work deeply in your art form to cultivate our collective culture.
Whether you’ve been making art for decades, or you’ve never done something like this before, Engage Art is a space for you to learn, explore, submit your creative work, find recognition for your skill and creativity, and reflect on the greatest Artist ever.
“The Bible has been the single greatest source and influence for literature, painting, and music in the history of the world.”
— Frank E. Gaebelein
Practically Engaging With Scripture
The Engage Art Contest invites participants to submit art based on the Spiritual Battle topic as found in Ephesians 6:10-20. Some might find this focus unusual, even off-putting. It’s important to remember that artists have been creating art based on Scripture for centuries, and good vs. evil is the most often told story in the history of humankind.
Now is the time for this generation to contribute a fresh take on the depiction of the grand story shared in the Scripture. The themes are evergreen and provide fodder for a broad array of artistic response. And rest assured, when using Scripture as inspiration for artwork, you are in good company!
Who has Drawn Inspiration from Scripture?
Bach’s music was clearly about his deep and abiding faith, as were select pieces by Mozart. Bouguereau and Manet, both Catholic, created secular art mostly and are known as secular artists, but they also addressed scriptural themes. Many modern artists who came after them did, as well, including Chagall (Jewish), Dali (“Catholic without faith”), and Matisse (atheist).
The truth is that imagery and stories from Scripture have impacted art since before we started counting time. Overtly “Christian” art was prevalent in the Roman Empire when Christianity was still illegal. From the time that Rome fell until the 1700s, almost all European art was created by or for the Catholic Church. It was valuable to them. They could use it to help teach the masses, most of whom could not yet read. Art in the sanctuary was a precursor to modern storytelling, which is a powerful memory tool often captured on film (or cell phone video) today.
During the Renaissance, the Orthodox Church perfected the icon, while the West moved toward secular themes, often based in classical mythology. But by the 1800s, all those masterful paintings bankrolled by Rome transcended their original purpose—for worship and teaching—and began to be collected for art appreciation. Many of them fill the great museums of the world. Others have remained in cathedrals, making some of those houses of worship very similar to art museums in their look and patronage.
That was Then, This is Now
Art, culture and Scripture do not live in separate worlds. They co-exist together. Scripture has much to say about our culture and art. Our art and culture can also explore Scripture.
When the Cathedral of Notre Dame burned in April 2019, it was not just Catholics who were concerned to learn how the art had fared. The enormous collection of art housed within Notre Dame, all inspired by Scripture, evoked an outpouring of emotion from people across the globe.
Today, there are artists who have a significant impact on both the sacred and secular worlds. Makoto Fujimura is the founder of the International Arts Movement, and he was also the first artist in 500 years to be commissioned to illustrate the four Gospels.
Wherever you are in your spiritual life or as an artist, we invite you to follow in the great tradition of drawing artistic inspiration from the Christian Scriptures. The Engage Art app (a requirement for the contest) helps make this easier for you, feeding personalized daily Scripture straight to your phone. The app also provides access to information and encouragement that will help you as you create art for the contest.
Why Focus on Ephesians 6:10-20?
These verses muse about an unseen, mysterious spiritual battle, a conflict between Good and Evil that can be depicted in many ways. Humans play a role in this confrontation and the arts play a part in how we understand our world.
Engage Art offers a place for artists to express their vision of the Spiritual Battle and reflect on this critical spiritual dynamic during our contests. Engage Art gathers work to illuminate, inform, and inspire the world—and, perhaps enhance the artists’ spiritual journey, as well.
Download the mobile app and get started today!
“Through the history of the Christian church there runs a wide and roaring river of artistic glory, feeding believers and unbelievers alike.”
— N. D. Wilson
Nothing New Under the Sun
It’s not a new idea to use the arts to celebrate, praise God, or explore faith. Scripture tells us that the Children of Israel made music, sang, and danced after the victory over the Egyptians at the Red Sea. Exodus conveys that God wanted beautiful things for his Tabernacle—metalwork, fabric, tapestry, and architecture. Jesus was a first-rate storyteller. The Psalms are a songbook, and the Old Testament is full of poetry. Members of the early Christian Church drew a symbol of a fish to identify themselves and created frescoes in the catacombs under Rome. Even the first human, Adam, was instructed by God to create and tend a garden.
Creativity comes in many flavors, but we are all uniquely creative. We hope this contest can help foster a renewed connection between artists and the Church. So, let’s find out together:
Can the tools and sensibilities of our modern time paired with the talent of today’s artists add to the depiction of the age-old story of Good vs. Evil?
Engage Art is for people of all backgrounds, all skill levels—literally anyone at all who is interested in communicating a vision for these verses. The legal Entrant must be 18 or older, but an artistic team may have younger members, as long as they have written permission from a parent or guardian.
Are you ready to Engage Art?