Reflections from “The Faithful Artist”

by Olivia Duncan

Artists often feel misunderstood and isolated as they pursue their craft. While the work of an artist can inspire us to experience life and God in new ways, their work can be lonely and frustrating. On Thursday, Sept. 26, Denver Institute for Faith & Work hosted The Faithful Artist, an event to explore and engage many of the difficult questions that artists encounter as they integrate their faith with their creative work. 

At Denver Institute, we believe artistic gifts convey God’s goodness, beauty, and truth to the broader world. We asked three local artists who attended The Faithful Artist to share their thoughts and impressions. Here’s what Matthew Langford (trumpet player and composer), Laura Dreyer (visual artist and illustrator), and Kay Morrison (abstract artist and pastor) had to say 

How did The Faithful Artist impact you and your work? 

What was most important to me leading up to the event was the gathering of people to engage with our shared humanity. Gatherings as intentional as this one are rare, but yearned for by many. I walked away grateful. The Faithful Artist has had a ripple effect through the last few weeks in my thoughts, questions, and new realizations as an artist today. It’s made me think more about what to value as an artist and how to make things for people to experience.

Matthew Langford

I was looking forward to meeting other Christian artists and hearing perspectives on how others integrate their faith into their art. It’s helpful to have other people to normalize issues I face as an artist and encourage one another.

Laura Dreyer

How does faith influence your work as an artist?

I want everything I create, whether it’s a painting or a sermon, to be full of goodness, truth, and beauty – the three elements that preceded the fall. I want to be truthful in how I create and for it to bring goodness and beauty into people’s lives.

Kay Morrison

If we are made in the image and likeness of an infinite, loving, and redemptive God, it follows that each human in our midst has been bestowed with an inherent worth and dignity. This, as a fellow embodied soul dwelling on earth, is a foundational starting place for all of my work. My desire is to create spaces that slow down our experience of time in a way that allows us to enter into the love of our Creator in a reflective, communal context, regardless of the beliefs of those gathered together. This event challenged me to continue to seek ways of engaging with those around me with an outward open hand.

Matthew

The belief that God has given me art, creativity, and an imagination to enjoy with Him has changed the way I make art. I thought for years that I needed to be successful in an external way to deserve that part of my life. The practice of replacing these untruths with the belief that He is kind and interested in hearing my ideas and fears about what I make has freed me to pick myself up after failures and to take more risks in the ideas I pursue.

Laura

What dreams do you have for artists and Christ followers in Denver? 

I dream to see the church welcome and embrace artists. The arts should be embraced out of Biblical faithfulness because the original artist is God and artists reflect who God is.

Kay

I hope for a day of open, compassionate, and empathetic dialogue between artists and the church. It would be great for the church to engage with the arts tangibly, in ways that those outside of the church see as being appreciative and valuing of creative work.

Matthew

I want people to believe that God cares about them even more than what they produce, whether that’s in art or another industry.

Laura

What would you like non-artists to know about the arts?

Beauty has a role in the Kingdom. You can’t read Revelation without seeing the importance of beauty in the renewed earth. Art is a carrier of beauty in our world.

Kay

My work isn’t just self-expression. At the heart of my work is my view of society in its brokenness, beauty, and nuance. Art is something we, as humans, need.

Matthew

There are many different ‘languages’ in which humans can receive things, whether that is written, musical, visual, etc. Each language is important in its own form. If people don’t have anyone “speaking” to them in any artistic language, they miss out on hearing something they very likely need.

Laura
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Olivia Duncan

Olivia serves as Denver Institute’s development associate and 5280 Fellowship coordinator. She has a spirit of generosity, focused on inviting people into the abundant joy of investing in God’s good work. Prior to joining DIFW, Olivia worked in technology sales, event planning, and nonprofit ministry. After living abroad in Italy, Olivia has a deep appreciation for a large scoop of gelato, a nice glass of Chianti, and experiencing other cultures. She graduated summa cum laude from Texas Christian University, holding a BBA in Marketing from the Neeley School of Business.