liturgical art or visual art
by Mel Ahlborn

Let's make some distinctions between visual art and liturgical art. One of the many ways that art has been defined includes this definition*:

[Art is the] "1. Human effort to imitate, supplement, alter, or counteract the work of nature. 2a. The conscious production or arrangement of sounds, colors, forms, movements, or other elements in a manner that affects the sense of beauty, specifically the production of the beautiful in a graphic or plastic medium. b. The study of these activities. c. The product of these activities."

In this definition, art, and visual art, are directly related to human-made works of beauty.

Liturgical art, on the other hand, has little or nothing to do with beauty. It is not decoration. Liturgical art is a visual aid for
worship designed, one hopes, to be an integral part** of liturgy. Liturgical art at its most edifying expresses the historic church, her traditions, theology and Scripture. It is not in the category of personal work that seeks to express an individual artist and that artist's point of view. At its ideal, liturgical art is made and used within an atmosphere of prayer, ushering the people of God, and the artist included, into an authentic experience of worship.

* Reference: American Heritage Dictionary
The Icon Project at the University of Dayton


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