Mixing faith and art

Dr. Brad Birzer, professor of American history (Hillsdale), author of several fine biographies and collector of great music, recently interviewed the talented composer and classical guitarist (and good friend), Kevin McCormick, about faith and art:

How does one mix faith and art?

KCMcC: If you were to define faith as a “world view” then I think it would be fair to say that faith is the motivation for all creative artists.  Some have faith in an ability to express something through art.  Others have faith in art to offer a kind of outlet for their own struggles in life. The creative impulse flows from a desire to put flesh on the spirit that moves within each of us.  One’s perspective and understanding will greatly shape and color the resultant form which that fleshing out takes.  That perspective might affect even one’s choice of artistic medium.

Historically there has always been a relationship between faith and art but it would seem that the connection between them is greatly effected by the circumstances within which the art is created.  The intensely personal expressions of Emily Dickinson are reflective of her faith as clearly as would be private journal entries.  The same might be said of the established author or composer who receives patronage in some form or another to ply his art simply for the sake of doing so.  The non-religious artist brings that world-view into his work and where it manifests itself.  This is why art matters.

But the best artists are those for whom art is a vocation.  The artists we study and return to years, decades and centuries after they have created are those for whom art is not about the return on the art but about the giving of it.  Those for whom artistic creation is a response to an invitation heard deep inside the soul. Those for whom faith in a Creator is at least an intriguing mystery if not a guiding force for all that they create.  That somehow, despite the meagerness of our efforts, our God can work in us and through us to create a thing of beauty.

Read the entire interview on the CatholicVote.org site. 

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About Carl E. Olson 1207 Articles
Carl E. Olson is editor of Catholic World Report and Ignatius Insight. He is the author of Did Jesus Really Rise from the Dead?, Will Catholics Be "Left Behind"?, co-editor/contributor to Called To Be the Children of God, co-author of The Da Vinci Hoax (Ignatius), and author of the "Catholicism" and "Priest Prophet King" Study Guides for Bishop Robert Barron/Word on Fire. His recent books on Lent and Advent—Praying the Our Father in Lent (2021) and Prepare the Way of the Lord (2021)—are published by Catholic Truth Society. He is also a contributor to "Our Sunday Visitor" newspaper, "The Catholic Answer" magazine, "The Imaginative Conservative", "The Catholic Herald", "National Catholic Register", "Chronicles", and other publications. Follow him on Twitter @carleolson.