What We Can Learn About The Purpose of Art From The 52nd Annual GMA Dove Awards

I sat on pins and needles for the show. This night had been on my calendar for months. The nominees played on replay on my Spotify as I worked and drove around town. They were my jam through tough times and my celebration in moments of victory. I had researched the artists online and knew some of their stories. I followed them individually on Spotify and Instagram.

When October 22nd arrived, the excitement was palpable. I couldn’t wait to see which one of my new friends would be honored for their work. As the hours counted down to the event start, I watched the red carpet posts on Instagram. I was blown away by Lauren Daigle’s dress, so I asked who it was by. The next thing I knew, I was connecting to the designer in Italy.

Check out this red carpet pre-show for some of the fun behind-the-scenes with the artists.

When the show aired on TBN, I recorded it. I was excited to see Christian artists celebrated with poise and dignity at the level of an Academy award. For so many of us who have struggled through doubts and invisibility as Christian artists, it was a night filled with hope for me. Even the commercials fed my soul.

Too many times, artists fall in the cracks of life. They have this amazing gift to write, sing, paint, draw, dance, act, or whatever, and they don’t know what to do with it. They dabble in their craft and offer it up to the world for approval. If people don’t give their approval, if they don’t get their art, they pack it away and stop trying.

Here is the ache: it is God who gave them that talent and ability, and it is His approval that they need, not everyone else’s. If you are not serving the audience of One, you aren’t ready to serve a bigger one. God gave us the Arts to connect with him in often supernatural ways. We see visions and act on them. We capture moments of inspiration that challenge viewers to engage with the art and with God.

There are a lot of lists online about the purpose of art. Most of them agree that it is a form of human expression that often inspires social change. I would say it is so much more than that. The artist is a warrior. Artists are equipped with the ability to see the world around them in metaphors and imagery that can resonate with an audience. You don’t have to be an artist to appreciate the message of a work of art, but you do have to be curious. Curiosity allows you to explore worlds outside your own and empathize with their experiences.

Art comes from a place of purpose and vision. You can’t help but infuse the work with the emotions you are experiencing and trying to recreate in it. This is why you hear sadness in Joni Mitchell’s “Clouds” and feel the pride of accomplishment with Degas’ “Little Dancer”.

Art comes from purpose but also from faith. When an artist is unsure of their faith or angry at God, their work shows it. When they are at peace with God and intentional with their work, the art becomes a respite and a place to come and engage with God. In my opinion, the highest form of creative work is work done with this level of self-awareness and reverence for Christ.

Christian art is not overtly religious, it is suggestive and impressive professionally and spiritually. You don’t have to beat someone over the head with the Bible to lead them to Jesus.

If you missed it, the 52nd GMA Dove Awards will be broadcast again tonight, October 29th, on TBN. If you are catching this after the 29th, you can still see the love performances on recordings posted on YouTube. Here’s a link to the full program. Enjoy the show!