Art and History

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Art and History

From Brian K. Yoder

Published before 2005


Brian Yoder: Journalism and history are fine things, but they aren't art. See my point?

Roberta: I do see your point. It is a very good one, indeed. Here is the problem. We can not record exactly what happened as a kodak moment for the Resurrection of Christ Were one to paint the event of the Resurrection one cannot do it precisely as factual.

It's true that it is impossible to do so because the detailed facts have been lost in the mists of history long ago. But my point was that even if it were possible (perhaps for some more recent event that was well documented) an artist should not just record what happened. The whole point of artistry is to embellish the plain facts to bring out the importance of what actually happens, not to just make a plain report of the facts.
R: One would have to rely on one's own intuition and imagination and tradition. Or could I translate this event in a modern sense? Maybe just a small bud sprouting after a natural disaster or on war stained soil would be enough to connote a resurrection.

Of course it could, as could an image of Jesus talking with Thomas, or an empty tomb. When it comes to artistic expression (which if different from history or theology) what matters is capturing the right perspective on the facts more so than accurately reporting on them in detail or even in whole. A painting of an empty tomb or a painting of the Phoenix rising from the ashes are both in a particular sense mythological paintings about a similar theme, whether the facts regarding the existence of phoenixes or of the resurrection of Christ are real or not in a historical sense.

R: So, the artist given the interior stirrings could feasibly convey the Resurrection in a myriad of ways. Now, what my intentions are need to be clearly stated in my paintings. If I am just doing a mythological painting of spring or just shining a light on the incredible miracles of nature this would not carry the significance of my belief in the true Resurrection of Christ. Or would it?

Why not? Some issues in life are more important than others of course, but an artist should be able to capture them, particularize them, and amplify them and make them evident to the senses whether they are crucially important matters of life and death or a subtle issue in the margins. Just because a subject may be fairly trivial in fact that doesn't mean that the art that portrays it needs to be weak or vague.

--Brian