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ACT Conference speakers encourage Christian involvement in the arts

Nigel Goodwin speaks as part of the ACT Conference in April. (Photo by Morris Abernathy)
Nigel Goodwin speaks as part of the ACT Conference in April. (Photo by Morris Abernathy)

JACKSON, Tenn.April 28, 2011 – God is the Great Artist who commanded mankind to preserve his creation, Nigel Goodwin said April 8 at a Union University conference on art, culture and theology.

“We are here today to enable one another to bear that burden,” said Goodwin, executive director of Genesis Arts Trust, a ministry for Christian artists around the world.

Goodwin was one of several notable Christian artists who led the conversation at the ACT Conference April 8-9 on the Union University campus. Faculty members from Union’s art department, which sponsored the conference, described it as “an international dialogue designed to cultivate meaningful Christian conversations with the arts that encourage artistic activity and innovation as well as biblical, theological, and philosophical artistic reflection.”

In addition to Goodwin, the conference featured addresses from Daniel A. Siedell, assistant professor of modern and contemporary art history, theory and criticism at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, and Mary McCleary, regent’s professor of art emeritus at Stephen F. Austin State University, among others.

The conference featured speakers, videos, group art-making and musical performances, including worship led by musical artist Michael Card. It concluded with a worship service and the Lord’s supper.

Goodwin said the responsibility for Christians to preserve creation has become burdensome because the Christian community has separated itself from art. He said he struggled as an actor to find a fellow Christian in the arts because many churches frowned on the idea of being an artist.

“Evangelical church culture in the 1960s did not allow one to be an artist and a Christian,” Goodwin said.

A fear of being influenced by a non-Christian culture has left Christians with little or no voice in the world of art, Goodwin said. But he noted that the situation has changed over the last 40 years.

Goodwin gave practical advice for helping Christians regain a place of influence in the arts. He told the students at the conference to only fill their shopping carts half-full for a few months and use the money they saved to buy art made by Christians.

By Samantha Adams (’13)

Media contact: Tim Ellsworth, news@uu.edu, 731-661-5215

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