International (MNN) — Over the last few days, we’ve been talking about mission fields of the future, starting with the worlds of technology and business. Today, we connected with Shin Maeng, a freelance illustrator who has worked with InterVarsity on several projects, including a few for Urbana ‘18.
Beauty and Brokenness
Maeng thinks the world of art can help people access the Gospel, especially since art is so accessible in the modern age.
“Everyone sees art, every looks at art,” he says. “Even in this new Instagram age, people are photographers, even if they wouldn’t say they are, because now there are filters and all these things that are accessible to people, so everyone’s constantly looking at art.”
From photography and graphic design to drama and music, art is everywhere, and yet Maeng thinks Christians have not used art as well as they could be in recent decades.
That’s unfortunate, since Maeng says artists are uniquely equipped to explore the complexity of the Gospel message.
“Artists always have to look at the brokenness of the world or the beauty of the world,” he says. “I think because everyone inherently looks for the beauty and also experiences pain and brokenness in the world, the Gospel’s perfect for bridging that gap.”
God redeemed the world through beauty and through brokenness, and art gives us a chance to relay that emotion.
Art can be relatable, beautiful and intriguing. It can be visual, musical, and physical. It provides opportunities for conversation that can lead to exploring the Gospel message.
Maneg created large pieces of art for the Urbana ‘18 conference to grab people and disarm them, hoping to start conversation about beauty and brokenness. He started by working with the evangelism department on an arts ministry project, but the art quickly evolved into something larger.
Now, it’s all about equipping Christians to pursue their own creativity.
“We don’t hope that there are only a couple of specialists,” Maeng says. “We want lots of people running around being bringers of the Gospel and the good news.”
Good art means good conversation, and students and young people are starting to use that.
“We’ve been working together to figure out good questions partnering with great art and how those questions and art pair together and bring people into deeper conversations and deeper stories about their particular lives.”
Maeng thinks art gives people a chance for vulnerability, honesty, and community, but art needs artists. He wants the Church to encourage young people to pursue creativity.
“Pray that there would be other artists that would rise up and create art that is evangelistic, that would rise up and see the beauty of God and tell the story to the new generation of why God is beautiful and why God cares for them.”
Not sure you’re cut out for art? Maeng says Jesus could be knocking on the very door you’re sure is closed.
“Look at what passions are burning in your heart that you’re saying “no” to and let Jesus into that. Let Jesus walk with you in that. It might not be jumping into the deep end, but it might be a few steps here and there moving you forward into a new stage of life.”