God's Earth in Art
Welcome to Today's Worship Service
April 25, 2010
God's Earth in Art
Open your Bible
Light a candle
For the Beauty of the Earth
BIBLE: Genesis I
27. And God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them. 28. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the heavens, and over every living thing that creepeth upon the earth.
The Divine is the same in the greatest and the smallest things. (Divine Love and Wisdom n.77)
So long as man is spiritual, his dominion proceeds from the external man to the internal .. But when he becomes celestial, and does good from love, then his dominion proceeds from the internal man to the external... [Heavenly Secrets, #2]
The Divine fills all space of the universe w/o being bound by space. [Divine Love and WIsdom, #69]
How was Earth Day for you this past week? If you honored the earth, then you were living the theology of Emanuel Swedenborg, who saw the Divine in all of creation.
Let’s explore this concept of Swedenborg’s as expressed in the paintings of artist George Inness [1825-1894].
He was born in Newburgh, New York, in 1825; the 5th of 13 children. His father was a successful grocer, who encouraged George in that direction. However, George apprenticed himself to painters and in time became known as one of the Hudson River painters. His art was exhibited at the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago, as an expression of a purely American art form.
He was raised in a family that included a Baptist, a Methodist, and a Universalist. He became Swedenborgian in 1860 at the age of forty. He was introduced to Swedenborgianism by a fellow painter, William Page. From then on, he attempted to convey Swedenborgian theology in his painting.
He particularly wanted to express the sacred nature of the earth.
Inness termed his work "civilized landscapes" and tried to paint an integration of humanity and nature. He saw God as ever-changing, and wanted to express this concept in his paintings.
Because of this, he never saw his painting as “finished.”
As his son wrote:
My father had the idea firmly established in his mind that a work of art from his brush always remained his property, and that he had the right to paint it over or change it at will, no matter where he found it or who had bought it, or what money he may have received for it. Wherever he found his pictures after they had left his studio he criticized, and would in most violent language declare the thing was "rot," that the sky was false or the distance out of key, and in a very matter of fact way would say "Just send it around to the studio to-morrow and I'll put it into shape.'
If the owner of the painting objected that he liked it just as it was, Inness would say,
it makes no difference what you like; I say the thing is false.... And I want you to understand, sir that I claim the right to go into any house and change a work of mine when I am not satisfied with it, and see where I can improve it. And he said, “Do you think, because you have paid money for a picture of mine, that it belongs to you?"
He also wrote: Ihave changed from the time I commenced [painting] because I had never completed my art and as I do not care about being a cake I shall remain dough subject to any impression which I am satisfied comes from the region of truth.
He saw God as the invisible force in nature: "the paramount difficulty with the artist is to bring his intellect to submit to the fact that there is such a thing as the indefinable," … "God is always hidden, and beauty depends upon the unseen--the visible upon the invisible.
He wanted his paintings to show divine influx, and wrote:
"The true end of Art is not to imitate a fixed material condition, but to represent a living motion," and “The intelligence to be conveyed by it is not of an outer fact, but of an inner life." The greatness of art is not in the display of knowledge, or in material accuracy, but in the distinctness with which it conveys the impressions of a personal vital force, that acts spontaneously, without fear or hesitation.'
Wilson Van Dusen writes that all of his life he has felt people trying to separate mysticism [the direct experience of God] and art. Yet, to him, they are the same thing. He says that art and mysticism both lead us to our center. Both are a time when the earth’s false dualisms fade away, and we feel the joy of being united with the Divine.
Van Dusen writes: ‘Were I to have the task of training mystics, I would use the way of art appreciation as the easiest and most pleasant entrance into the field.’
Can art be, for you, a way to connect with God?
Follow THIS LINK to a slide show of paintings by George Inness with music by Rev. Ken and Laurie Turley. See if this slide show can be, for you, a connection with the Divine.
This is My Father's World