This sermon written and delivered by Sonya Brown
I love art. I love to visit museums to look at art. I’ve been taking my son with me to different museums for the past year. He’s not enthusiastic about it. Recently we visited the National Gallery of Art to look at their modern and contemporary collections. My son was very vocal and expressed how abstract art makes him upset because it looks like scribbles, there is a canvas with just one color, there’s no depth, and his 5-year-old niece could probably do better. I explained, “well… it’s not that it has no dimension, it’s just that you don’t understand it and it invokes a feeling from you.” I received the teenager’s eye-roll and he explained how art should be pleasant to look at.
That’s the thing about art – art can be interpreted differently. What one sees as scribbles is also seen by another to be something else.
My frustration with art is how classic works of art are most often European, Anglo artwork. Art from the same time period and from a non-Anglo, European community are often categorized as folk art. What I see as masterpieces is not always what the art would classically define as masterpieces – it’s folk art to the art world.
In recent years this issue of how art is defined has been under scrutiny. But not much has changed because if the art powers that be changed the old managed rule of art, it could affect the value and prestige of artwork. Why would they want to give up their money, privilege, and control over art?
Who gets to decide what counts as a masterpiece? We could ask the same question of our own lives – who gets to decide what counts as a good life? A holy life? How can we know whether we’re seeing the world – and each other the way God sees?
Let’s explore how God sees the world – how God sees us. We are called to reflect who God is to the world around us.