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The Cursed Tree and the High Priest: The Christ Imagery of The Revenant

The Cursed Tree and the High Priest: The Christ Imagery of The Revenant

A brilliant look at The Revenant, from our friend Caleb Stallings.

Being a native of Georgia, I’ve always been oddly proud of our pine trees. Up until the recent film industry boom in Atlanta, I felt like the Peach State had few cultural icons to offer, the pine tree being a (less than) obvious exception. Whether Ray Charles was glimpsing that romantic moonlight between them, or Johnny Cash was reveling in their incomparable heights, the Georgia pine has long stood as a symbol of strength, power, and even transcendence. In Alejandro Iñárritu’s most recent film, The Revenant, the pine in particular,…

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The Gospel According to Hamilton

The Gospel According to Hamilton

This one comes to us from our new friend Cort Gatliff.

My life can be divided into two distinct eras: Before Hamilton and After Hamilton. On October 1, 2015, after months of following the online hysteria and critical acclaim, the former era came to an end when I finally set aside time to listen to the Broadway cast recording of composer Lin-Manuel Miranda’s latest, unconventional project: a hip hop musical about the life of Founding Father Alexander Hamilton. Moments after hitting play, this work of art captured my imagination in a way no other cultural phenomenon in recent memory has. So…

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Critical Thoughts on the Evangelical Embrace of Thomas Kinkade’s Art

Critical Thoughts on the Evangelical Embrace of Thomas Kinkade’s Art

A year and a half ago I wrote a post on Mockingbird about Thomas Kinkade, the prosperous “Painter of Light,” mostly responding to a then recent article highlighting his death due to a drug and alcohol overdose. I attempted to offer a thoughtful interpretation of Kinkade, his art, his unfortunate demise, and the Evangelical embrace of his work—how I see all of these things as interrelated. Some people disagreed, and others even regarded me as being arrogant about art and taste.

Admittedly, what I wrote was tongue-in-cheek at points. I’ve never respected Kinkade’s art, so I poked some fun at his expense, which in retrospect may have been…

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What 1,792 Blogposts Have Taught Me About the Internet

What 1,792 Blogposts Have Taught Me About the Internet

Our Buy One, Give One Free deal is up and running on the magazine site, if you’re still looking for last-minute gifts. Simply order a subscription, and add your second recipient’s address in the memo box of your order. 

Here’s one of our features from the Technology Issue, David Zahl’s state of the digital union from the particular vantage point of this website. To order this issue, either in electronic version or print, click here.

Copyright Gabriela Herman

The guy knew enough not to argue. He had clearly seen my kind before. The kind who approached the counter with purpose, maybe a…

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Hopelessly Devoted: Advent with Rembrandt

Hopelessly Devoted: Advent with Rembrandt

This one comes to us from the inestimable Zac Koons:

How do you picture the first day of creation? What did it look like when God spoke “light” into unending darkness? Was it instant, incapacitating brightness? Or did it spread unhurried, colors metamorphosing like a sunrise? Was there a bang? Or deafening silence? I wonder what it looked like for light to first come into the world.

Now, how do you picture the Nativity? What sounds back-dropped the baby’s cry? What smells hung in the air? Was it crowded around the trough? And how was Mary? Of course she was exhausted. But…

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Restoring the Likeness of God in Contemporary Portraiture

Restoring the Likeness of God in Contemporary Portraiture

Last week ArtWay posted a portrait series by Catherine Prescott, an oil painter who concentrates primarily on realistic renderings of human faces. Prescott, who had drawn portraits all her life, intended to pursue realism but found herself born in the wrong time period:

Catherine Prescott: Daphne Holding Her Neck, 2015, oil on panel, 22,5 x 15 cm

By the mid twentieth century in America likeness was largely held in low regard, as leading artists sought a mythic presence through abstraction. When Catherine Prescott was studying art in the 1960’s, the category “art” had no real place for the kind of realism she…

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The Extreme Selfie as an Art Form

The Extreme Selfie as an Art Form

I didn’t ask to become inane; it just happened one day while I was driving down the highway, trying to take a selfie while eating a burrito. (This was to stand in as a more interesting version of the “on my way” text.) Mercifully, the rice spilled on my dress, I realized what I was doing, and no one died on that stretch of I-64 that day.

Worlds away, a number of Russians haven’t been so lucky. After at least ten deaths by selfie this year alone, Russian police have launched a campaign for the “safe selfie” to get their youngest…

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The Mockingbird Issue 5 Out Now!

The Forgiveness Issue is here! Order your (boyfriend’s, stepdad’s, daughter’s) copy today! To check out the Opener and Table of Contents, click here.

MBIRD_V5_Cover_LowRes

Jamin Warren’s Games for Non-Gamers: A Magazine List

Jamin Warren’s Games for Non-Gamers: A Magazine List

From our Work and Play Issue, this list comes from Jamin Warren, who blew minds at MbirdNYC15 this past Friday. For those who want more Jamin, his gaming festival Two5Six is taking place in May, and the lineup looks pretty unbelievable. He’s also hinted at an Mbird group rate, which if you go here you can redeem.

Shortly before the outbreak of World War II, an esteemed, well-respected cultural historian named Johan Huizinga undertook a very strange project given his post. He wanted to understand the nature of play in all of its forms. What Huizinga found and subsequently argued was that…

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Bridging Church and Culture: A Conference Breakout Preview

Bridging Church and Culture: A Conference Breakout Preview

Seven years ago, Christ Episcopal Church in Charlottesville, VA renovated a small, single-car garage into a downtown art space and then guess what we named it? We named it The Garage. Since then we’ve hosted monthly art openings, potluck dinners, letter-writing days, some amateur film screenings and literally hundreds of concerts (five years ago, The Lumineers played in front of eight people on a rainy Sunday, long before they were writing songs for The Hunger Games, #neverforget). The space opens out onto a street and, during concerts, passers-by either gather at the entrance or in a park on the other…

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Pick Up Your La-Z-Boy and Follow Me: An NYC Conference Preview

The Theology of False Absolution in Christian Kitsch

i-115d13b18d3b104621321fd8c7cc6c6f-chief_of_the_medical_staff_greene_lHave you ever unsuspectingly picked up a novelty mug from your local Christian book store, looked at the image on its side and found yourself thinking, “Hey, I thought Rembrandt was the ‘Painter of Light’? Who does this Thomas Kinkade guy think he is anyway!?” Well, you’re not alone! Join us as we explore how paintings and visual art speak a language all of their own; some words of which ring more true than you think, and others…well, you didn’t really think Kinkade’s work qualified as fine art, did you? J

1) First, we’ll look at paintings by artists such as Warner Sallman and Thomas Kinkade, and consider what the paintings themselves communicate about theology (by examining what subject they depict, and, more importantly, how).

2) Next, we’ll consider the theology of the gospel itself, and in what ways these paintings support or supplant that message.

3) Finally, we’ll examine works by Jeff Koons, Francis Bacon, and Vincent van Gough (among others), and repeat our strategy from above, though hopefully with a different outcome!

If you’re an artist, a theologian, or just an amateur art historian who’s curious to see in what ways theology and visual art may intersect, this breakout session is for you. The format of this session will be conversational, so come ready with lots of questions.

Pre-Register for our NYC Conference today!

Ode on Renoir’s A Girl with a Watering Can:  Seeing the Eternal in the Ephemeral

Ode on Renoir’s A Girl with a Watering Can: Seeing the Eternal in the Ephemeral

I first looked at a reproduction of Auguste Renoir’s A Girl with a Watering Can as a poster tacked on the wall of one of the dorm rooms in Baltimore Hall at the University of Maryland, when I was an undergraduate there in the 1970s. I was not especially impressed. The fact that it was even displayed, and prominently, in a guy’s room in an all-male dormitory, now that was a bit surprising. The most popular female hanging on young men’s walls at the time was that famous smiling, swimsuit pose of Farrah Fawcett. If I recall correctly, this was…

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