Toward a Christian
Pedagogy of Art
AFTER RECEIVING A B.A. and an M.F.A., and after eight years of teaching art to undergraduates and periodically studying abroad, I became a full-time artist. From the time of my first painting at the age of eleven and throughout the succeeding forty-plus years, I have been forced as a committed Christian to both question and explain my place in the modern world of art and in the ancient world of faith. It is my hope that the following will help young professors of art to bridge the gaps and avoid the pitfalls that make up the contemporary no man's land between the studio and the Church as they attempt to pass on our remarkable artistic heritage to a new generation.
Chaim Potok, the Jewish author, was asked why there had been relatively few Jews in the visual arts until the last two hundred years. His answer was that until the rise of secular democracy "art was a Christian endeavor." Jaroslav Pelikan, in his Imago Dei: The Byzantine Apologia for Icons,1 explores this question: How did the sect of a culture that rejected images because of a strong prohibition against idolatry, while accepting that prohibition,
1 Jaroslav Pelikan, Imago Dei: The Byzantine Apologia for Icons, Bollingen Series
(Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1990.) The A. W. Mellon Lectures
in the Fine Arts, delivered at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.,