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 music, your film, and your performing and visual arts.

“My faith is not what I write about or what I paint about,
but it is the light by which I see.” Flannery O’Connor

When you engage in the arts, you engage culture automatically. The subject matter, aesthetic, genre and point of view will all have either (1) come out of or (2) be a reaction to your own cultural experience. If you share your work with others, your level of skill and point of view interface with theirs—there’s no way around it. The outcome is unpredictable, much like testing “unknowns” in the chemistry lab.

But here’s something we know for sure: All of the individual artworks being made my 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 that, “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 artform 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, to explore, to submit your creative work, to be recognized for your skill and creativity, and to reflect on the greatest Artist ever.

Topic:

Our topic is the Spiritual Battle as expressed in Ephesians 6:10-20 and related scriptures. At its most simple, this topic is about the confrontation between good and evil, an evergreen topic in the arts. Upon further exploration, there’s another element prevalent in the cultural canon: Unseen forces are at work in our world and in our lives. Some of them are good and some of them are evil.

There’s a LOT for artists to work with in this topic, and the big question is what you have to say about it. Engage Art encourages artists to thoroughly explore the Scripture references and other resources, to carefully consider what you want to express, and to drink deeply at the well of inspiration. Through the Engage Art app, we’ll supply you with ongoing spiritual nourishment and thought-provoking content to nurture your soul and your imagination.

Humans are made in the image of their Creator, so we cannot help but be creative beings. Art can encourage, instruct, rebuke, prompt reflection and engage people from all different backgrounds—both those creating it and those experiencing the finished product. The combination of the arts and faith can transcend the expected boundaries, spark new ideas and reach audiences in new and deeper ways.

Join in – this is for you! We want you to explore and respond to the artistic inspiration that the Bible has provided for centuries. This competition invites people of all skill levels, Christians and non-Christians, to help others understand and reflect on their own lives and God’s Word. As you work on your art, a community of artists across North America will be working on the same challenge. As your artworks come to fruition, they will begin to fill this online space.

You’ll find more in-depth details about the Engage Art contest on our submissions page, including prizes, rules, and the entry process. Show us and the art community at-large how to engage culture and Scripture through art.

“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 artists might find this focus unusual, even off putting. It’s important to remember that artists have been working from this source material for centuries. Now is the time for this generation to contribute a contemporary sensibility to the depiction of the grand story. 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, while Mozart wrote both sacred music and complete symphonies without religious content. Bouguereau and Manet are two secular artists who addressed scriptural themes, as have many modern artists, including Chagall, Dali, and Matisse.

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 because they could use it to help teach the masses, most of whom could not yet read, providing a precursor to modern storytelling, so often done today through film.

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 art museums of the world. Others have remained in cathedrals, making some of them very similar to art museums in their look and patronage.

When Notre Dame burned in April 2019, it was not just Catholics that mourned or who waited with trepidation to learn how the art had fared. Social media feeds filled up with personal testimonies of how a visit to Notre Dame shaped so many people of all backgrounds, nationalities and religions even just in the recent decades. That outpouring of emotion was evoked by a structure designed to make visible man’s desire for connection with the divine and by the enormous collection of art housed therein, every single piece of it inspired by Scripture.

That was Then, This is Now

Today, there are cross-over 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.

Whoever you are, we invite you to follow in the great tradition of extracting artistic inspiration from the Christian Scriptures. The Engage Art app (a requirement for contest applicants) will help make this easier for you, feeding daily scripture straight to your phone about the things you’re most interested in, and also providing access to information and encouragement that can help you as you create art for the contest.

Art, culture and scripture do not live in separate worlds. They co-exist together. Scripture has something to say about our culture and art. Our art and culture can have something to say about scripture.

Why Focus on Ephesians 6:10-20?

These verses muse about a 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 creates a space for artists to express their vision of the Spiritual Battle, inviting all artists in North America to reflect on this critical spiritual dynamic during our 2019-2020 contest. Engage Art will gather work that can illuminate, inform, and inspire the world—perhaps enhance the artists’ spiritual journey, as well.

So download the mobile app and get started!

“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

Why an Art Contest?

Art communicates across cultures and languages. Art transcends time and history with an impact that can resonate for an entire lifetime. The Mona Lisa will speak to people seeing it for the first time today, just as it has for 500 years. And it doesn’t even have a deeper spiritual meaning.

Nothing New Under the Sun

It’s not a new idea to use the arts to celebrate, to praise God, or to explore faith. The 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 forms, 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?

From Every Background

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 Entrant must be 18 or older, but an artistic team may have younger members, as long as they have written parental permission.

Our contest will run from June 1, 2019, to May 31, 2020, and will only be open to artists in all of North America!

Are you ready to Engage Art?