The Adventist Society for the Arts (ASA) provides a venue for Seventh-day Adventist church members who have an interest in art in its many forms—architecture, calligraphy, digital graphics, drama, drawing, film, painting, photography, songwriting, street art, sculpture and more–to network, collaborate and produce art that speaks to today’s culture and world.
The philosophy behind having such an organization within the Seventh-day Adventist Church is linked with the purpose and mission of the church—to share God’s love with a fractured world.
The mission of ASA is to create art that brings good to life, promotes justice and truth, and inspires others to want to know the God we love.
There is an attitude among some, both within and outside of the church, that art is nice, but unnecessary. Their view of life and beauty is utilitarian—if it doesn’t have a practical purpose, then it’s probably a waste of time and money.
Several years ago at an inSpire gathering in Southern California, a woman who attended referred to herself as, “a recovering Adventist, because of some of the things she had experienced earlier in life. Although she was delighted to be there, she was surprised that the Pacific Union Conference would sponsor an event that celebrated the arts. She grew up in the mission field and had always loved art, but her parents told her she should not waste her time or interest in pursuing it. They encouraged her to become a nurse or teacher, or to work in some other profession that had a more useful, godly purpose. Today she is a thriving artist in Southern California with her own studio and gallery. Art was in her DNA and she felt compelled to pursue it.
Where did the idea come from that creating art is of questionable importance, or not appropriate for people of faith to engage in?
When we look at creation and the beauty God has made, His fingerprints are everywhere. What He did is incredible! If you doubt this, go to the zoo and observe the diversity of life, texture, and color God used when creating animal life. He didn’t have to make male Peacock feathers look so exquisite, but He did so for two reasons: 1). When Peacocks spread their tail feathers in the sun, they are gorgeous, and 2). When Peacocks spread their tail feathers, it attracts Peafowls (females) who become their mates. God is notorious for blending beauty with something that has a functional purpose.
Having said that, what is the purpose of a beautiful sunset, other than to lift our spirits? God’s canvas and gallery is the sky—in spectacular wide-screen format for all to see.
Art in Scripture
Art is a gift from God. Some Christians have taken biblical prohibitions against making graven images, which were used in pagan fertility rites, to mean Christians are prohibited from sculpting, drawing, painting or depicting anything.
If that were the case, God would not have given His children the ability to create art, which He clearly has. Nor would he have instructed Moses to put an artist by the name of Bezalel in charge of all the artistic creations essential to the services of the sanctuary in the wilderness. But Exodus 31:1-5 explicitly says that He did:
The Lord said to Moses, “See, I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri,
son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God,
with ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftsmanship, to devise
artistic designs, to work in gold, silver, and bronze, in cutting stones for setting,
and in carving wood, to work in every craft.” (English Standard Version).
In commenting on Exodus 31:6, Volume 1 of the Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary makes this observation on page 661:
Every artist, whether he be poet, painter, sculptor, musician, or designer, must
have within him a natural talent, without which he can never attain to excellence.
Such gifts should be regarded as a sacred trust from God, to be used for His
glory and for the betterment of mankind–not for the advancement of self.
We may not share the gender-exclusive language of the era when the commentary was published, but the overall message is clear: artistic and creative gifts are divine blessings entrusted at birth to some individuals for the blessing of all. Just as some are born with the desire and ability to pursue medicine, ministry, nursing, teaching, or accounting, others are gifted with the desire and ability to pursue artistic endeavors for the edification of the Body of Christ and humanity in general. Like the talents in Christ’s parables, these gifts are worthy of pursuit and development. It’s time for Christians to embrace art and artists with respect, dignity and discernment.
There doesn’t need to be a practical reason for beauty to exist.
God is a lover of beauty, and Scripture tells us we are created in His image. So it is only natural for us to look at the world with curiosity, wonder, and an eye for beauty. It is as if God placed us here, then said, “I have created all of this for you to enjoy, now let Me see what you can do.” I think God is inspired by our efforts to mimic His creative efforts. It is what some are destined to do.
From time to time Adventist Society for the Arts (ASA) will sponsor online virtual gallery shows, contests, and publish coffee table books, etc., that can be enjoyed and shared.
Questions About ASA
Adventist Church members who live in the United States and Canada and who are passionate about creating and sharing art in its many forms, may participate. For ASA, art includes architecture, calligraphy, digital graphics, drama, drawing, film, painting, photography, songwriting, street art, sculpture, and more.
Are there any member fees or dues? No. From time to time when we sponsor an art show or contest there may be a submission fee, but there is no membership fee. We wish to include as many Adventist creatives as possible. To stay connected with what’s happening, subscribe to receive inSpire’s FREE eNews.
The purpose of ASA is to provide a place for Adventist creatives to connect, share, and collaborate. It can also serve as a stage to help new artists get wider exposure. The focus of the Society is limited to Adventist church members because we want to raise the level of the importance of creative expression within the Adventist community as a legitimate gift from God. As with any gift, it all depends upon how it is used.
Because we are members of many different Seventh-day Adventist congregations throughout North America, we celebrate diversity, as well as racial and gender equality. We believe everyone is of equal value in God’s eyes and that He gifts both men and women to fulfill unique roles in life and ministry.
We embrace the teachings of the Adventist Church and celebrate the unique doctrines that are found in our official statement of beliefs.
From time to time we sponsor events and contests that reach beyond our churches, because we believe we are part of a larger family that may or may not share, or understand, our spiritual values. We are called to bring good to life and create art that is hopeful, while addressing life’s hard questions.
Just as the Bible itself does not shy away from stories of war, violence, conflict, injustice, and sin, we see the value in art that might include these same elements. The effects of sin on the human race have brought about many hardships and pains that we have all felt at times and is a very real part of our human existence. It is only natural that the results of these experiences come out in the ways we express and share ourselves with the world.
In the same way the Bible uses stories of pain and brokenness, we wish to follow suit and make sure that when including topics of the grim aspects of life, our underlying purpose is to directly, or indirectly, reveal God’s love to the world. This does not necessarily mean the message must be obvious or didactic in nature. Subtle hints of God’s love and redeeming power can be explored in many forms and told in numerous ways, all while bringing about powerful, life-changing experiences to an audience.
Questions about contests, content and other activities should be sent to the Adventist Society for the Arts.
Adventist Society for the Arts is an initiative of inSpire, and is produced by Pacific Union Conference Church Support Services.© 2017 - 2021 ASA. All rights reserved. Click here for content usage information.