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Art and Soul: Signposts for Christians in the Arts Paperback – 15 Apr 2014
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"Hilary Brand and Adrienne Chaplin have produced an academic but delightfully written book designed to fill a significant need for students who are contemplating a career or some active involvement in the arts. It is addressed to participants in all of the arts--visual, music, theatre, film or any combination of the above--as well as interested observers and consumers of art. . . . "I have usedArt & Soul as a text for a Senior Seminar in the visual arts, and it was enthusiastically received by students. Its usefulness, however, is certainly not limited to the classroom: anyone involved in music, theatre, film or the visual arts will find a wealth of stimulating material for inspiration and discussion on a variety of levels. I have found this book to be the most valuable addition to my library in a long time."--Joanne Alberda, Dort College, in Pro Rege --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
Chaplin teaches philosophical aesthetics at the Institute for Christian Studies in Toronto, Ontario. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top customer reviews
One reason why this is such a good book in itself, apart from anything else about it, is that it is so well written. The authors are witty and charming, but they know the benefits of straight-forward and direct writing. I certainly felt as though I was being talked to by two passionate people, and not talked at by an inanimate lump of 200 pages. I don't think this is a small point, especially as it does, actually, fit in completely with what Brand and Chaplin are arguing for.
Essentially, the book goes through some basics of art history and then tries to boil down what we, as Christian artists, should be interested in, how we should engage with our art, in a way that is both glorifying to God and which captures the serious attention of the world around. (Although it does have a bias towards the visual arts, because they can be more easily represented on the page, the book concerns "art" as meaning all types of creative art, and snippets of plays and poems are sometimes used as examples.) The theology Brand and Chaplin base their approach on is simple (perhaps refreshingly so), and many people will take issue, as I did, with this or that within what they say. But this is not a theological book, one more cut-price-for-Christians instruction manual at the back of the Church by a big name. Rather, they want to get to the matter in hand properly and quickly (and they do), and all credit to them. Thus I am more than happy to give them the benefit of the doubt in where we stray from one another's interpretation of the Bible, and I don't think it is that hard to adapt what they say when we do think differently.
"Art & Soul" is a good book in its message. As I say, it got me very excited, because it says something that I have been longing to here within the Christian world for a long time: a wake-up call to engage with the world around us. Brand and Chaplin are interested in making Christian art a force to be reckoned with once more, no longer where the label inspires insipid and downright substandard artwork from the last generation, but at the cutting edge and leading the charge. Better still, the book is well researched, drawing on a wide range of primary artworks, of various media, and consulting many critics and artists, Christian and non-Christian alike.
What more can this book give? Well, it will give anyone with a slight interest in the arts a very pertinent and useful view into what art is all about. It is reinvigorating, and will make anyone want to go and see the nearest exhibition, latest play, or read the classics again. So there is my advice: BUY & READ!
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I highly recommend this book.
All people have a worldview, a certain set of assumptions about what is real and is not real, which enables the individual to function within and with the world that exist. Although few individuals ever sit down and try to analyze their worldview-and we all have one-that worldview finds expression in how we live. The individual's worldview can be seen in the product of the individual's labor. For the creative person, e.g., the artist, poet, writer, etc.,his or her worldview is apparent to the critic's trained eye in the creative product. Great art, it has been said, is but the coming together of worldview and technique.
The Christian who wishes to express his or her creative gifts must learn to live in tension. Christianity, especially in America, has not been friendly to the creative spirit. In ART & SOUL: SIGNPOSTS FOR CHRISTIANS IN THE ARTS, Hilary Brand and Adrienne Chaplin argue that artistic expression is a natural byproduct of human beings created in the image of God. This does not mean that the Christian artist will paint only praying hands or write only religious romances, either of which are about as artistic as a velvet painting of Elvis. "All the products of human creativity, even the finest and most glorious, are products of a sin-infested world" (50). The Christian artist, like the non-Christian artist of merit, will seek to truthfully portray the world in all its complexity to an adult audience. To do so, write Brand and Chaplin, "the artist must learn to create a complex weave of dark and light. It means learning to use the full palate of shades, confident that in hands-that have learned their craft-they will not all merge into muddy grey" (55). The Christian worldview of the Christian artist will be evident to the discerning observer.
The arts are but one focus of the spiritual war that is being waged within the created order, as well as in the heavenly realm. To divide the arts into the "secular" and the "Christian" is a false dualism. At the heart of the Christian message, as the authors point out, there is a duality in contradistinction to a dualism. It is "a very real battle between opposing forces of good and evil." It is a battle in which "the battlelines between good and evil run across all aspects of culture and every facet of life" (68).
ART & SOUL is a well-written, well-illustrated study of the relationship between the creative arts and Christianity. Whether an artist seeking justification for being such, or a layperson who desires a better understanding of why human beings feel compelled to "create," this book is a good place to begin the quest.