God, artist and material : toward an ethical paradigm for artistic creativity
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The central argument running through this project is that, if re-imagined in light of a Christian theology of creation, comparisons between divine and human creativity provide a valuable ethical paradigm because of the structure they provide for thinking about and engaging in creative practices. Because there is not enough space to do justice to the full gamut of the human experience of creativity, I have chosen to narrowly focus on comparisons between divine and artistic creativity. Very specifically, this project is concerned to show that comparing the artist’s relation to her materials to God’s relation to the cosmos as a whole can envision the artist as respectfully transforming her materials. In part one, I present negative and positive arguments for the use of comparisons between divine and artistic creativity as ethical paradigms in a theology of art. I then suggest that the theological term ‘kenosis’ might serve as the focus of such an ethical paradigm, and that those who describe divine creativity as kenotic are helpful dialogue partners for the development of a comparison between divine and artistic creativity. The heart of this project is part two, in which I consider three different types of comparisons. By ‘type of comparison,’ I refer to the comparisons’ central content. The three types considered are: the modern concept of genius, the incarnation as revelation and the incarnation as redemption. I argue that the latter type provides the best ethical paradigm for encouraging artists to respectfully transform their materials. In Part three, I assess the comparison between artistic creativity and the incarnation as redemption according to its anthropological and theological costs. Turning to recent formulations of divine kenotic creativity, I develop a comparison between divine and human creativity that includes vulnerability and risk.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
Embargo Reason: Thesis restricted in accordance with University regulations