Fine Artists in the Army Arising

Since An Army Arising was released in February, I have received a lot of positive feedback.  As always when you enter the public square, I also have received some negative feedback–actually two negative emails.  (not bad at all.) One was anonymous, and the second gave me a name and nothing else.  The fine art world is a difficult world to navigate if you are a Christian, and it is incredibly competitive.   Fine artists, and artists who have reached a certain tier in this world can be harsh and critical toward others.  I have experienced this in music conservatories as well.

The negative feedback has been helpful to me, because I believe that the fine artist has a place in the Army Arising, and as a reformation of culture happens, fine arts will begin to return to the center of culture.   I guess you can surmise that I believe that the fine arts are on the fringe of culture at the moment.  Lord willing, this can change.  Here is a recent email exchange.  Names have been removed.

Read your book. I have long been a Christian warrior artist. You speak of the importance of excellence and learning one’s craft. So hoped I would find on this website something more than the usual poor, untrained, uneducated ‘Christian nonart. So frankly very disappointed in the paintings posted here. These show the lack of knowledge of God’s basic design as found in his creation..for example God’s use of the golden mean, throughout his creation. The lack basic color theory and drafting skills. I was blessed early on by a wonderful painting teacher who said…you can talk, and talk, and talk and it won’t make it a good painting. The Christian artist warrior’s weapons need to include, design, color theory, drafting skills. Please take you own advice…stop posting yet more failed “christian art” and get educated. Please look on this as a prophetic message from an aging artist who has been at the gate a very long time… Jesus Christ is Lord…but he is not going to do the cross work of learning our craft for us…and I hate to think of how many true artists have been coming here looking for actual artists that are Christians…. to find well the usual pablum. Time to eat the meat of education. Tough words I know…but need to be said…need to be heard…repent…change…grow.. In Christ, 

I do agree with many of this writer’s points.   As I prayed for this person, I started to see her frustration on not being understood, both by the church and the art community.  You do this for a while, and you will get angry, bitter, and cynical.

Here is my response:

Dear Madam:

Thank you for reading my book.

After several days of prayer and talking with others about your email, I felt I needed to respond.  Simply this, you have made broad judgements about me and my life and work based on three thumbnail images.  Context is everything.  I looked in vain for examples of your work, and only discovered a few references to you in articles.  The references gave me the indication that you have been hurt in your attempt to integrate your faith and your craft.  I’m sorry  for this.  If you are the same person I researched, you have had many educational opportunities that most of the men and women I have served would only dream of.  Very few people get these opportunities, and economics and location prevent many talented people from entering the sphere you have enjoyed.  The purpose of my website is not to defend my education–being that we are located in Boston, education is something my team values highly, and all of us have experienced.

I can’t make judgements about you, because simply I do not know enough about you.  Belonging House is not Christians in the Visual Arts, and I’m sorry if this is what you were expecting.  I am grateful for your email, because it forced me to revamp the gallery page–something I had intended to do.  You probably need to talk to my friends Greg and Susan Card.  Their website is http://artsthematter.webs.com

You are the second fine artist to attack me since the book came out.  (Yes, that email was an attack.)  I worked for 20 years in the Pro-Life movement, so fortunately, I have dealt with hate-mail before.  I don’t usually respond because the people who send these emails generally are cowards, and it gets you nowhere.  My first calling is to pastor artists, and that’s why I am responding to you.

There are many wounded people in the art world, and before this army can rise, I believe we need to bind up those wounds.  My prayer is that you find the healing from your battle scars, and that you begin to sow into the lives of others who could benefit from your education and experience.

Warmly,

Christ Otto