WORDS

 

        Cathexis is a nice one, as is vituperative; and you just can’t beat the simplicity, directness and multipurposeness of crud.  A favorite coinage (itself a nice, evocative term) from my dissertation is quotidianeity—the quality of “dailiness” that I use to describe how paintings that are seen regularly, habitually, almost inadvertently in the setting of the home are not truly overlooked, but become a vital part of the gestalt of the space and, therefore, of the life of the household. 

       

        There is much of my thinking and dreaming about the intersections of art, culture, and faith that is best suited for communication on canvas; but I am equally committed to the lines of thought and argument that deserve to be laid out in prose (and occasionally poetry) in addition to paint.  For, if we are an image-saturated culture, we are no less a culture suffused with and defined by the written Word.  Whether through conversation at home-shows, wall-texts at gallery exhibits, lectures at schools, or my once-weekly blog posts at www.BioLogos.org, my goal in writing and speaking about art is to encourage real engagement with artworks (not just mine) and the meanings behind and flowing from them.  Artists often rightly claim, “If I could say it with words I wouldn’t have to paint it.”  But for those other than a painting’s maker, to really wrestle with the visions embodied in the work usually requires verbal description, explanation, exploration.  In fact, the Greeks had a word for it, ekphrasis, and it’s a practice from which we could all benefit, lest the entirety of our shared “visual culture” be little more than fleeting, flickering shadows on the walls of our high-tech caves.


         To the end of encouraging a rich engagement with artworks and, more generally, recognizing the importance of creative approaches to most of the important things in life, I have posted several longer essays and papers on relevant subjects below, whether as .pdf or .doc files or links to pieces published elsewhere on-line, all in addition to the regular updates and shorter writings available on the BLOG page.  There’s a brief description of each piece with the link, with the most recent additions coming first, sort of. . .

 

Progressive Creation: Artists and Others in Ecologies of Signs

An expanded version of the paper I presented at the Arts+Genesis Conference at Trinity Western University in Langley, BC on October 1, 2010, now published in on-line journal Verge.  Click above to download the 4.5MB pdf file.   (October 2010)

Metaphor, Mystery and Paradox at the Confluence of Science and Faith.

The first of two Scholarly Essays I wrote in my capacity as Senior Fellow, Arts and Humanities for the BioLogos Foundation, examining the importance of subjective perspectives even in the most “objective” fields of human endeavor.

You can also read it as a series of shorter posts beginning here.  (November 2010)

Picturing Home: Domestic Painting and the Ideologies of Art

Of course, if you are really, really a glutton for punishment and want a more detailed explanation of the cultural geography and art/gender ideology of paintings in houses, e-mail me and I might send you the full 320-page dissertation.  But I’ll need a note from your doctor.  And don’t say I didn’t warn you.  (December 2004)

Faithful Poetics and Christian Knowledge of the World.

The second of two essays for the BioLogos Foundation, arguing that poetry and metaphor are indispensable guides for understanding the world and how we are to live in it and with each other.  The blog breakdown, including transitions between sections may be found here.   (January 2011)

Interstices and Graceful Emptiness.pdf

This paper was presented in Minneapolis on December 2, 2011 at the symposium Interstice(s): Intervening Space--A Conversation on Christianity and the Arts, put on by study center MacLaurinCSF.  It addresses the conference (and art exhibition) theme of how art and artists are called to be in the cultural in-between spaces.

Making Sense: Art and the Gospel.pdf

Does the New Testament give us grounds to pursue art as a distinctively faithful (much less human) calling? The extended version of my affirmation is here, given as a keynote address at the 2015 Ravi Zacharias International Ministries Summer Institute at Wheaton, Illinois.  Video and more on the companion exhibition is here.

Ecologies of Knowing: What Natalie Settles Learned in the Lab

This essay about the collaboration between visual artist Natalie Settles and Evolutionary Biologist Steven Tonsor was the cover article for IMAGE Journal’s issue devoted to evolution and the imago Dei. You can read it in it’s entirety online.