Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Timmerman’s Condensed Art History

There is no better way to spend a rainy Tuesday evening than engaging in a ninety minute dash through a history of art and the Church. Beginning at the year dot with a few paintings of Christ the Good Shepherd on tomb walls, Tim Timmerman, (Director of Art at George Fox University,) guided us through almost two thousand years of art-steeped history without drawing breath. Having passed quickly over the whole fine art arena to land on music and literature as my own particular comfort foods I was fascinated to find out a little more about the progression of visual art throughout the last two thousand years, the developing role of the artist and the Church’s, oftentimes unwieldy hand, in the whole process.

Timmerman is an excellent communicator with a wealth of fascinating little asides which punctuated his lecture and allowed us all to take something home to mull over at the end of the evening. Personally I loved his section on Gothic art and architecture and was really convicted to discover that many of the great architects who began the construction of elaborate Gothic Cathedrals and Churches fully realized they would not live to see their work completed and would pass this privilege on to their children and grandchildren. This knowledge coupled with Timmerman’s stories of intricately carved capstones and bricks placed eighty foot above eye level really convicted the artist in me to create art and beauty for the glory of God, with the kind of humility that does not need gratification from critics or fans. Throughout the evening we were offered many similar nuggets. I could hear people scribbling notes and anecdotes into journals all around the room and hope to see some of these quiky little stories popping up in our art over the next few months.

By the end of the evening I was almost overwhelmed by the amount of information which had passed between my ears. I had a file page full of artist’s names I plan to check out and investigate a little further and a healthy appreciation for the artists who have come before us. Surely this kind of awareness of art’s progression through the ages, (the artists who have struggled, locked heads with the church, been misunderstood and highly acclaimed, wrestled their own faith and art, failed,learned and soldiered on,) can only make us thankful to have a small place in such a rich tradition of people who have presented a God-drenched sense of beauty and truth to the unbelieving masses. I know that I left the lecture last night, freshly inspired to create, to strive towards innovation in my work, to anticipate struggle and failure but ultimately to know that God has throughout history used and continues to use the Artist as His hands and feet, His canvas and pen to scratch His kingdom into the four corners of the World.

Tim Timmerman lectures at George Fox University. Keep watching the website and mailing list for upcoming Imago Arts lectures.

Jan Carson blogs at

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