Saturday, April 01, 2006

For Portraits to Landscapes: In Art and Church

Today a group of about a dozen of us from our church small group participated in the the Cowtown Community Cleanup (a project of Fort Worth's enviornmental management department). One of the things it made me think about was art.

You see, you may or may not have thought about it but early painting even up through the rennisance was all about focus on people (whether contemporary, religious or mythological). For example, to the right is an early Italian Mosaic showing Christ entering Jerusalem. This is from the 12th century...sure there are some trees and dirt, etc. but they don't really take much time drawing any sort of back ground and details there. And it would seem to be because, even in a scene, that what is important is the people.

How different from that concept is this next picture on the right. This picture is a picture that comes out of the Hudson River School. This picture is called Scene with Figures by John F Kessett and was painted in 1969. Obviously the priority in this picture is not the people but the details and time put into painting the sky, the water the earth and the surrounding life.

While our group filled up 16 stretch bags of trash in just less than hour I was thinking about how some Christians might argue that this project was not important because it doesn't involve people, just like Rennisance artists consumed with painting the Modonna and Child would feel like these artists painting scenes of nature were wasting there time.

Yet, especially in our modern world people are certainly influenced by our surroundings and nature. How many people's moods shift up and down depending on the weather? I have a friend who says on her blog: "My mood greatly depends on the weather and the amount of caffeine that I have had...how sad." And if her mood changes with the weather, people's moods probably also change and adapt with the cleanliness of their enviornment, mine does.

And so in our care for people, we don't pout or complain if today's service opportunity didn't give us the opportunity to brush shoulders with the crippled, the poor or the lonely. We will integrate with the world's social need at other times, because that to is important. But today we wanted to touch people's lives by helping their enviornmental needs. And it also allows us to show care and concern for the earth that God has given us. And if we can fill up that many bags in so little of time than this world needs some love for the sake of the earth and for others.

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