In the gospel, Jesus reveals his glory to Peter, John and James through being transfigured before their eyes. There is a glimpse of what is to come, but they struggle to make meaning of what they have seen. Before an artist creates, they have a vision of what is to come, but it is often the journey while creating that the paschal mystery is encountered, and it is through this experience that gives meaning to the completed work.
I cannot imagine a world without art and theology. The creation of art provides the opportunity for deepening awareness of oneself, the world and can act as a catalyst for evoking the spirit. Art is a means to see-to-re-search and find the living meaning of what it means to open the heart. Art invites us to listen and to contemplate, providing a timeless and transcendent experience. Art allows ‘the eye to listen’, through entering an active silence of attention. These skills require a mindset of not necessarily thinking about the time that it will take to reach a destination of even having this as an end goal, but rather savouring the transformational journey. Everyone can create art, but in order for it to be theological, the artist needs to explore ways that it makes sense of faith. Opening the heart through art involves making meaning through the creation, then reflecting on the art itself and the unfolding the moment-to-moment direct experience of the process.
I have recently discovered Makoto Fujimura and fell in love with his book, podcasts, and reflections on Art and Faith- A Theology of Making.
Makoto Fujimura writes:
“In my studio I make art. The term theology of making amplifies how this human act is connected to the divine presence. Simply put, when we make, God shows up.”
Fujimura states that as God is the creator and we are made in the image and likeness of God, we too are all creators. We have been made to paint light into the darkness.
Fujimura speaks of how unless we are making something, we cannot know the depth of God’s being and God’s grace permeating in our lives. Artmaking is a discipline of awareness, prayer, and praise. It is a sacred way of understanding the profound human experience and the nature of our existence in the world. To be human is to have an imagination and be creative and it is this, which gives us wings.
Like Fujimura, I am drawn to the Japanese art of Kintsugi, that is, repairing broken pottery by mending the areas of breakage with lacquer mixed with powdered gold. As a philosophy, kintsugi is similar to the Japanese philosophy of wabi-sabi, an embracing of the flawed or imperfect. The pain or scars which have been endured should not be hidden, but honoured as symbols of strength, beauty, and wisdom.
Reflecting on the Transfiguration, I wonder what Peter, John and James must have thought and felt, especially Peter, who wanted to assemble tents to accommodate the vision. It was hard for them to comprehend what they had witnessed and needed time to reflect in silence to make sense of the experience. Often the artmaking process takes on a life of its own and the artist gets to a point where they need time to contemplate the way forward. For an artwork to feel complete the artist must understand the meaning of the journey. So, to, the disciples will come to a final realisation of why they had experienced what they did. For now, the transfiguration encounter has left them in a space where they are silent as they grapple to make meaning of the experience.
You are invited to attend the Art and Spirituality Day. This workshop will provide the opportunity to awaken the spirit through the beauty of Gods creations, prayer, and reflection. Participants will engage in art making experiences which will nourish their faith.
Dates: Thursday March 31
Venue: Kilaben Bay Community Centre
Cost: $25 per person (includes morning tea, lunch, and art equipment)
To register, visit: https://www.eventbrite.com.au/o/diocese-of-maitland-newcastle-18080128129
Contact: Rose McAllister | firstname.lastname@example.org