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Art and Thinking

Art can affect the way we think.

Miranda Anderson, “Engaging with an artwork leaves you and the art transformed,” Psyche, 29 March 2022.

Anderson argues that art has power to transform not only what we think about but how we think and what we imagine.

Art stretches our mind in new ways and shapes: “Through art, we can extend our minds to points in time and space that otherwise remain invisible or ungraspable. Artworks both reflect and inspire transformative understandings of our own minds and our encounters with the world, widening and deepening the ways we make sense of our subjective experiences.”

This is especially true when the type or subjects of art are unfamiliar. She explains, “our encounters with the unfamiliar, defamiliar or unexpected in art can generate increasingly complex and nuanced thoughts.” Art can also reshape or redirect the way we think about familiar things, and even our memories: “By requiring free conceptual play across a wider range of possibilities, works of art can open up how our minds imagine or how they conceive of the future and the past.”

So art matters, and we who are concerned to enrich our minds, and to enrich the minds of those we serve, ought to make more place for the arts in our development and ministries: “The arts are not trivial: artworks help our imaginations mediate the particularities of our minds (and the particular bodies and contexts they’re predicated on) without the risks of real-life experiences…The arts enable critical and creative thinking beyond the constraints of reason, unaided imaginations, or conventions and norms in which we can become blindly immersed.”

The arts have fallen on hard times in our day, especially within the Christian community. It falls to church leaders to rediscover the value of the arts and to make better use of them in the work of making disciples.

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