During my time at art school, I took part in many group critiques of student artwork. Twenty or so of us would tack our best efforts on the wall, and then everyone would take turns criticizing them. At one such critique, a classmate presented her project, which she had titled Smile Awhile. The image was a random grouping of several large yellow smiley faces inside a rectangle. That was it. While stroking our chins and thoughtfully furrowing our brows, we probed for the deeper meaning. After a bit of incoherent stammering, she finally explained, "I just like smiley faces." I remember thinking two things. First, "This is why parents cringe when their children say, 'I want to go to art school.'" Second, "Who cares what you like?"
As Christians, we see so many things in the art world that repel us that we're left wondering if perhaps the problem is inherent in the emotional and subjective nature of art itself. Some may even ask: Should we care about artists and their work at all?