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Gary Molander Interview Transcript

I recently had my first experience at the wonderful Echo Conference, and while there I caught up with Gary Molander. For your benefit here’s a transcription of our conversation (video of the interview is at the bottom of the post):

GF: I’m here with Gary Molander, Garymo.com, Floodgate Productions, and author of a new book “Pursuing Christ, Creating Art”. And Gary, instead of telling you what a great job you did. I want to say thank you for writing such a needed book in the Christian artist world. I could relate to it throughout. It ministered to me and I know it’s going to help a lot of people so thank you for writing that.

GM: You’re welcome. I will say that whoever invented blogging is my best friend cause that’s where it all started. It gave me a chance.

GF: Awesome. You say that God doesn’t need our art. We should create art in response to God because the world needs it. My question is do you really think I or any other guy could really change the world? I mean, that’s kind of a lofty goal.

GM: Yeah, the answer is yes, but I think we change the world one person at a time. And so it’s not my job alone to change the world. It’s our collective job as the church, capital C, to change the world. I think what really changes the world are stories told beautifully and art done wonderfully. That’s what I think.

GF: I agree. You also say we are children of God who happen to be artists. And never get that turned around. Why is that important?

GM: It’s because we are children of God first. There will come a day when we are not artists anymore. When we can’t pick up and type or blog or whatever we do. But we will always be children of God. And I think that’s really important to realize so that we don’t have a complete identity meltdown when that day comes, when we aren’t artists anymore.

GF: That’s great. You say your most impacting art is a bi-product of time spent with a creative source, Jesus. And the title of the book is, “Pursuing Christ, Creating Art”, in that order. Do you feel that many people and artists tend to reverse that order?

GM: Yeah, I do. I can’t speak for all artists. I can certainly speak for myself. And the tendency is not to pursue Christ and create art. The tendency is the create Christ and pursue art. And that’s a little bit scary. I wrote the book because I wanted to make sure it’s Christ we’re pursuing and out of that relationship we respond with art.

GF: I love that Christ is literally the backbone of your book. It’s a bold approach. In it you say “Beware of the artist whose skill level surpasses their character. You spend considerable time on creative blocks and you even give resistance a name in Satan. To combat this you say God needs to crucify in the art of the artist both fear and pride. Can you elaborate on that?

GM: Absolutely! What I would say is God is busy crucifying one or the other. It’s either fear or pride. It’s fear of what people will think. And that’s the block. That’s where so many artists get stuck. What will people think of me if I push publish? What will people think of me if I create that media piece and then stand in the back of the church and watch? What will they be thinking? And if he’s not busy crucifying fear in our lives, that’s my biggie by the way, He’s busy crucifying pride.

GF: Two sides of the same coin.

GM: It really is. You know, when you really think about it, it’s not the same thing, but it is two sides of the same coin. You’re exactly right. So, what I say in my book, and I really mean this too, ’cause I’ve met a lot of prideful artists; oh man! Where you can’t touch their work. Where pastors can’t come in and try to massage it at all or change it. “No you can’t change that!” I would just say that, if you tend to overestimate your abilities then I promise, God disagrees.

GF: That’s good. And at times we can cross the line into idolatry. Jump from God worship to art worship. Well, related to that, you say that the best art is born in the joy of heaven or the pain of hell. To create from Hades will result in safer art, less impacting and boring. What did you mean by that?

GM: I just mean that God works in our lives through pain and through beauty. So if I was to ask you what the most painful part of you life is, I would promise that your heart was changed during that time. And if I was to ask you what was the most beautiful thing you’ve ever experienced is, maybe the birth of your children, you would say, “Uh, yeah, I was changed in that moment.” That’s how God changes our hearts. So, my point is: Can we create from those places too? Can we create from the beauty? Can we create from the pain? If we choose to discard the beauty, discard the pain so we are creating from some middle ground, and I think that’s boring. Frankly, if I was an artist who had to create from middle ground all the time I’d feel castrated. I mean, you know, I really would. I would much rather learn to embrace the beauty and embrace the pain and create as much as I can out of those places.

GF: I must say, your book is not a safe book. It’ll change you from the inside out.

GM: I hope so. And you’re making a really good point. I hope it’s not a safe book, but I don’t want it to be an accusatory book either. Does that make sense?

GF: It’s not.

GM: So, the whole time I’m writing it I’m thinking, “I want this to be dangerous, but I don’t want this to be finger wagging, judgmental, legalistic.

GF: I don’t think it is because the whole time you are looking in a mirror and you’re being frank and honest, so I appreciate it. OK, well, just one last question. Kind of the end all question. What does the book mean to you and why did you write it?

GM: I wrote the book because I was deeply impacted by my father who was a writer. And I always wanted to write. I felt like I had something in me to write, but like many people and probably like yourself too you say, “I wanna write, but what would I write on?” And then the more I began to get into the creative arts world and I got my Master of Arts, the more I began to do that, I just realized that artists are really pursuing art. And Christian artists…I’m really pursuing my art and creativity and kind of bringing Jesus on as a passenger. I don’t think that’s the way it’s meant to be.

GF: And that’s why you make it a goal with your art, and now with people who read your book will be introduced into that, where your best art will be when you make the invisible visible.

GM: God. Absolutely and that’s really what it is because that is what we have, like it or not, a God who is not seen. And so we have to make him visible and I think through our love one to another certainly a community would look on. But there’s another way too and that’s through our art. Through art that redeems.

GF: Amen. Well, there you have it. GaryMo.com. Go buy and read this book. It’s worth every penny and you will not be disappointed. Thanks a lot.

 

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