Edward Knippers concludes our exhibition, “Art and Incarnation: Engaging the Art & Theology of Edward Knippers”, with a few responses, words of gratitude, and reflections on not “playing in the shallows” (may our stammering attempts at speaking about God risk the same).
The high level of theological discussion this week on Theology Forum about my work is more of a tribute than any artist could expect in a lifetime. That is because Professors Sanders, Myers, and Buschart each understand in a profound way what I have been trying to do in my artistic calling.
Their articulations of my core concerns of incarnation and resurrection have embodied my, often, intuitive understandings in a clear verbal form. When I read Professor Sanders’ succinct summation of my artist enterprise as an exploration of “…a visual vocabulary capable of expressing the remarkable things Christians believe….” I could only say, “Yes, that’s it.”
Professor Myers’ discussion of my cubist vocabulary in terms of Gerard Manley Hopkins stating that God’s grandeur “will flame out, like shining from shook foil,” only makes me realize how much further I have to go in order to even “stammer,” (Prof. Myers’ word) about such things.
Professor Buschart’s discusses the nudity in my work in terms of universality and particularity (also mentioned by Professor Sanders) stating that “…the absence of dress in his human figures removes an excuse for someone to hold the images at a distance, and yet these are particular people.” In reading his essay, I realized that he had seen past merely naked people to the common denominator of our humanity, the body and its place in the cosmos.
More importantly, each of these scholars has penetrated to the core of my work by talking more about our Lord’s Incarnation and Resurrection than about me. This is as it should be if I have done my job well. I have maintained over the years that art is not merely self-expression but an exploration of a reality greater than the Self. I have also maintained that the artist should be concerned about the most profound parts of that reality, not just play in the shallows. These essays are a conformation that with God’s help, I have accomplished in some small way what I have preached.
I offer my deepest thanks and appreciation for the essays of Professors Fred Sanders, Ben Myers, and David Buschart. I also offer my heartfelt gratitude to Kent Eilers and his colleagues at Theology Forum for making this conversation possible. I hope that many will find the rewards of reading and participating in Theology Forum in the years to come.