Art is the Grandchild of God. (DANTE, Inferno, Canto XI)

artists palateWe all learn in many different ways. Educators call this ‘Multiple Intelligences’. We learn through language, movement, art, nature, math, and logical thinking. Some people enjoy learning in group settings, while others enjoy learning in one on one interactions. As educators, we try to identify the way our learners learn best and offer learning opportunities that suit their strengths.

The longer I taught my Bible study class at Target Dayton, the more I realized I was using the wrong teaching method. Most of my lessons involved reading and writing and were linguistically oriented. Since this was a group of women who really struggled to read and write, using language arts to teach them about the Bible seemed to be counterproductive. There had to be a better way to teach them Biblical principles and for them demonstrate learning had occurred. I wondered what would happen if I offered them an opportunity to learn and express themselves through art?

I filled a large plastic bin with all sorts of art materials: colored pencils, colored pens, construction paper, scissors, glue sticks, stickers, and much more. Their first art project was for them to tell their story by making a collage. I brought in a collection of old magazines from which they could use pictures, words and phrases to portray their life story. When each person was finished, we shared our collages and told our story.

Oh. My. Word. “When the front door of the intellect is shut, the back door of the imagination is opened” (Cron, 2006, p. 113). It was as if someone had flipped a switch. Most of the women had never had an opportunity to express themselves creatively or had ever been exposed to basic arts and crafts materials. They were like five-year olds in a candy store! Suddenly, they were engaged in deep, reflective learning. As each person created a piece of art that told her story, conversations centered around how far they had come and the areas in which they still struggled. The overriding theme of each piece was that they were on a journey and there was hope for the journey through their relationship with Jesus. He was the light that shined brightly in the midst of their darkness.

From this point on, I provided multiple learning opportunities through art. After talking about a Spiritual principle, I would ask them to draw what it meant to them. Not only did they learn to interpret spiritual principles and apply them to the context of their own life, they were so proud of their finished projects. Eager to show off their masterpieces, they ran up to Pastor Mark’s office to show him what they created. We hung their pictures up in a common area so they could be seen by everyone who attended the morning and weekend services.

There is a distinct correlation between art, beauty and the search for God. As these collages portrayed, the piece of art itself is not the destination, rather it becomes a signpost that points us towards God. Could the same be true in the broader sense of beauty and art? Could artistic masterpieces be works of beauty that reveal the glory of God?

For some reason, the arts and Christianity seem to be at odds with one another. A creative imagination is thought to be the source of all kinds of evil. Yet, a redeemed imagination is capable of creating works of beauty that reveal God’s magnificence and His redemptive work in not only ourselves, but in mankind in general. What about you? What’s your story? What would a collage of your life look like? Why don’t you give it a try and find out.

Cron, I. M. (2006). Chasing Francis. Grand Rapids, MI. Zondervan.

One Response to “Art is the Grandchild of God. (DANTE, Inferno, Canto XI)”

  1. sandy T. says:

    Ronda, powerful words to express this and artfully spoken evoking images and imagination….thank you!


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