A Christian Guide to Looking at and Learning from Art
Where to Purchase
We are formed by the images we view. From classical art to advertisements and from news photos to social media, the images we look at mold our ideas of race, gender, and class. They shape how we love God and our neighbor.
This practical guide helps us look closely at and understand how a wide variety of images make meaning as aesthetic and cultural objects. Elissa Yukiko Weichbrodt teaches us how to learn from art rather than critique it and how to respond to images in Christian ways, allowing them to positively transform us and how we love.
The book includes twenty-three images, most in full color, that range from classical European paintings to Central African sculpture, from Chinese ink painting to political propaganda, and from stark anthropological photographs to unconventional installations.
Introduction: For People Who Look at Pictures
Part 1: How to Look
1. The Toolbox
2. The Archive
3. The Frame
Part 2: Love the Lord Your God
4. Confessing Our Idols
5. Wondering at God's Transcendence: Abstract Art
6. Delighting in God's Presence: Representational Art
Part 3: Love Your Neighbor as Yourself
7. Growing in Curiosity: Portraiture
8. Sharing Our Space: Landscape
9. Allowing for Complexity: Art of the Everyday
10. Learning to Lament: The Art of History
11. Redeeming Vision
"I wish Redeeming Vision had been in my hands when I was a young Christian seeking to understand how to connect my faith, my love of art and beauty, and my mere humanity. This book isn't just for art lovers; it is for thinkers, believers, skeptics, wonderers, and all humans. Redeeming Vision is instructive, engaging, delightful--in a word, outstanding."
Karen Swallow Prior, research professor of English and Christianity & Culture, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary; author of On Reading Well: Finding the Good Life through Great Books
"Elissa Weichbrodt's Redeeming Vision is an erudite and yet wonderfully hospitable invitation for the layperson to engage deeply with art and art history through a profoundly Christian theological perspective. That means, among other things, that the incarnation is a powerful reality liberating our gaze--allowing us to let down our guard and receive the gift of art. This is because God has let down God's own guard and come among us, vulnerable and open. Weichbrodt's careful analysis and accessible and enjoyable writing style offer a rich and expansive feast of beauty and significance. A vital contribution to the library of any sincere student of visual culture and its central importance in our lives."
Bruce Herman, gallery director, Barrington Center for the Arts
"Providing a useful toolbox of interpretive tools and frameworks for faithful and generative engagement with a great diversity of artworks, Redeeming Vision is a welcome new resource to help educators, students, and interested others develop their capacities for meaningful engagement with works of art informed by a vibrant and sound Christian faith. With the facility and care of a seasoned educator, Elissa Yukiko Weichbrodt has designed what she describes as a 'field guide' for looking at art 'from a posture of love,' fully cognizant of the goodness of God's original creation and clear-eyed about the extent of the consequences of the fallenness of the world and of human beings, and what that knowledge requires of people of Christian faith. Well organized and illustrated, this book makes a compelling case for developing the transformative, redemptive power of learning how to look at art."
Rachel Hostetter Smith, Gilkison Distinguished Professor of Art History, Taylor University
"Art is a practice that needs to be learned, a practice into which one is initiated. This is as true for viewers as it is for artists. Yet too often Christian approaches to the visual arts, especially modern and contemporary art, have not provided the practical resources for viewers, remaining as they have been in the philosophical or theological realm. Moreover, these writers too often make works of art into illustrations for those ideas, taking them from the realm of looking to the realm of thinking. Weichbrodt has provided what Christian discourse about the visual arts over the last fifty years has lacked: an on-the-ground guide to looking. Redeeming Vision is a remarkable text that will play a crucial role in helping to initiate countless curious but often confused seekers into the practice of looking at art. Weichbrodt's text will also be an important resource for negotiating the intensifying culture wars, which deploy images as weapons in the political battles over vision."
Daniel A. Siedell, senior fellow of modern art history, theory, and criticism, The King's College, New York City
"In an era where attention is one of our greatest commodities, this book felt like a beautiful invitation--an invitation to daily become more thoughtful and sensitive observers of the world we live in. Weichbrodt offers a thoughtful, integrative path toward engaging the visual world of art as she explores key questions all artists, historians, and students can ask in both their work and their lives. She does all this while inviting them to a truly integrated path of living."
Erin Shaw, assistant professor of art, John Brown University
"Growing up, I read many books on renewing my mind and developing a Christian worldview. Certainly those books were crucial in my growth in Christ, but there were no books on developing a Christian eye. Elissa Weichbrodt has addressed that deficiency in her new book. Redeeming Vision is a beautiful gift to the church, offering us the tools we need to see Christianly. Without hyperbole, I would assert that this is a book every Christian should read. It will prepare them to visit art galleries or museums, but more importantly, it will help them to more clearly see and understand the world around them through eyes of faith."
Ned Bustard, creative director of Square Halo Books; editor of It Was Good: Making Art to the Glory of God
"As an amateur art enthusiast, I am so excited about this book! Weichbrodt brings both her love of art and her talent for teaching into beautiful harmony in this text. It's both a thorough, helpful guide and the permission an amateur like me needs to respond to art in my own way."
Jasmine L. Holmes, author and teacher
"While I enjoy going to art museums, I often have no idea how to have a meaningful experience with what I see. Weichbrodt's book provides what I have been missing: a set of tools I can take with me as I engage with art. Weichbrodt applies the same principles to art that I often use as a Bible teacher, such as considering historical and cultural context, observing objectively, keeping in mind the author or artist's intent, and making appropriate applications to our lives today. I welcome Weichbrodt's exhortation to practice redeeming vision, and I hope you will too."
Kristie Anyabwile, Bible teacher and author