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These are some reflections I wrote for one of my teachers here, about moving experiences with art.

When we debated the rank of the three components of art in class, I found the question interesting and the answer deep and elusive. Advocating for theory, I found myself giving words for the first time to my passion for intelligent design, for instructive beauty, for the nature of God.


The visual experience that moved me most does not meet your criteria for this assignment, but I am including it. It was an instance of nature infused with the intentionality of God. My nature is to respond to the Holy Spirit, and there is little in my life that compares to the highs, the emotions, the movements of my heart when He is involved. On first morning leg of a prayer walk in Switzerland, I was walking at some distance from my team, worshipping quietly, keeping my eyes mostly on the unfamiliar dirt path in front of me. I looked arbitrarily up and to my left. Not thirty feet away, past some low brush, was the Rhône river. I cannot express to you how huge it seemed, gliding next to me in total silence. I was not prepared for its presence, its beauty, or its stealth. In that pink morning light, the Lord revealed to me those very aspects of His character with drama that I can’t forget.


Without spiritual influence, however, my regard tends to be cool and critical. The best example of this is the simple fact that I saw Michelangelo’s David in the Florence Accademia a couple years ago and disliked it. The first thing that occurred to me upon seeing that mammoth figure was the disproportionate size of the head and the hands. I immediately, almost subconsciously attributed the anomaly to a lack of skill and anatomical understanding on Michelangelo’s part. When I think back to this reaction now, it sounds ridiculous. You showed us the parallel lines and opened up the beauty of form in sculpture in a way that I had never understood before. I now have growing affection for the David, even trapped in a photograph. When I return to Florence, maybe I will have an emotional experience like you describe.

Continued musings: I recently learned about the Face-ism Ratio. The principle states that if the height of the head is large in proportion to the total visible height, the intellect and personality of the individual will be communicated above the physical and sensual aspects. We discussed in class how Michelangelo used a larger head to emphasize David’s youth and courage. It occurs to me that the trend of large heads on small bodies in popular media today also parallels a rise of the cult of self, the supremacy of the individual in our culture. Perhaps this explains some small facet of the appeal of the David to the current generation. In addition, C.S. Lewis remarked in The Four Loves that we are most ourselves when clothed, that the revealing of the body (being much more universal in design) turns the individual into a type. I agree with him. In terms of the David, I think the prominence of his facial characteristics keeps his personality intact; yet, being nude, his heroism somehow becomes more accessible to the everyman.


It is when my spirit, intellect, and emotions unite like this that I feel most alive. This happens most often when I am the one creating, but from time to time I come across a piece of art that engages me on all of these levels. One such piece is Rudolf Koch’s specimen of Neuland, in which he quoted a sermon by Johann Tauler. Typography being one of my favorite mediums, I’m sure I was attracted first to the varying pattern of the letterforms, and then to the artist’s obvious strength of conviction. If this were a speech rather than a printed work, he would be SHOUTING. I could hear the energy of German language. It is one of my favorite sounds, connecting me to fantastic memories and the intrigue of a future calling. My intellect was subsequently engaged to determine what he is shouting. I discovered the gist to be both something I myself wanted to declare, and something that is not declared frequently enough. As I read, of course, I came across the straightforward icons placed seamlessly throughout the text. These tokens of artistry further elevated the sense of humble nobility. Or noble humility: the life statement of a common man, speaking in the language of a great art and great nation.

neulandb copy

For any art or work, no matter how small it may be, is an element of worship
and is worked through the Holy Spirit to the profit and fruit of people.
If I were not a preacher having a meeting, I would consider it a great thing
that I could make a living for myself, and I would also want to earn my money
through my own means. Children: not the foot, nor the hand should want to be the eye.
Everyone should do his part that God has given him to do.

I am realizing that I connect with a work of art only when I can trust it, and to do so, I must learn the intent behind its creation. Creation without intent frightens me. My Father’s orchestration of nature, time, people, everything, thrills me. It’s the story. It’s the art. And it’s still only creation – a small piece of Himself. Jesus has given me creativity so I can infuse life with beauty, like He does. I am His partner, with direct access to His heart. I exist to reflect the beautifully creative nature of God.

3 Responses to “Art epiphanies, a triptych.”

  1.  Dad Says:

    Can I simply say, “I love you!?”

    Hadn’t ever seen Koch’s Neuland…impressive…provoking!

  2.  Mom Says:

    I must get this to Astrid in a frame!

  3.  Sheri Says:

    You are speaking my heart, also, Rachel. And you speak it so, so beautifully. When I was growing up, my world was the farm and woodlands I grew up on and the America we traveled, but I have always related to the beauty of God’s creativity demonstrated in His glorious Nature more than anything else. You speak it so eloquently here! Thank you for sharing!