Thursday, November 16, 2006

Truth, Lies and Plastic Eyes

Last weekend was the amazing art talks series at ICS sponsored by Imago... Betty Spackman was there to speak about her book: A Profound Weakness: Christians and Kitsch
and her talk was entitled: "Truth, Lies and Plastic Eyes."

Betty had a lot of great things to say and it was nice to see her in person having heard so much from Adrienne Chaplin about her and looking at her work as part of an independent study while I was at OCAD. I have been wanting to write a response to the weekend but haven't had a chance yet so instead I'll post some of my favourite quotes/ideas that came out of the talk and discussions. They are as close to verbatim as possible... I take any responsibility for transcribing them inaccurately - please notify me if I say you said something you didn't. If these don't make sense out of context - also my fault...

"Instead of walking the streets with [Christ],
we hide him in our churches
and drag people in to see Him."

- Betty Spackman

"Christian Kitsch = Faith in drag."
- Betty Spackman

"Truth is what is true but not necessarily factual."
- Madeline L'engle

"Kitsch offers paradise now, bypassing the 'not yet'."
- not sure who said that

"Rational Christians who are emotionally starved turn to Kitsch"
- not sure about this one either

"We are the message - not the objects we create"
- Betty Spackman (on whether art itself can be "Christian")

"Aspire not for greatness but to be the humblest, . . .
creating with joy and freedom, as a child. . ."
- Betty Spackman

Betty also talked about learning the language of the culture around you... which is good, but are you doing it only so you can say what you want to say or so you can listen? Her example was from a missionary in a foreign culture context but she applied it also to the arts...

Another thing that I loved that she said... She compared making art to the feeding of the 5000. Jesus asks what we've got and we respond "I don't have enough. You take it and break it." and then we see what he does with it. Our responsibility falls not in having to feed everyone or make the perfect work of art or craft the most clever message... but simply to offer all that we have, acknowledging our insufficiency and let Jesus do the rest. And somehow, 5000 are fed.

read some other people's notes on Betty here.

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