Sputnik is a network of artists who identify as Christian, but don't make 'Christian art'.
All around the UK and beyond, Sputnik artists are making art that enriches us all, making art that is full blooded and honest and making art that can help heal our divided culture.
We operate out of the Catalyst Network, but we work with artists and churches of every denomination and culture.
Our culture is an extremely commodified space. The arts are seen as valuable if they make money – which usually means advertising something. Artists are pressured to make what sells, not what will feed and enrich us.
The church, too, has often seen art and creativity as useful inasmuch as they serve the purposes of worship, evangelism or doctrine. If artists are encouraged beyond this, it's assumed that commercial success would be their goal. As a consequence, artists often abandon either their church or their art.
We fund projects and exhibitions to help artists escape the pressures of the profit motive, freeing them to create art that enriches us all.
"We need writers who know the difference between production of a market commodity and the practice of an art. The profit motive is often in conflict with the aims of art."
— Ursula K LeGuin
At one end, popular entertainment hammers art forms into a marrowless pulp. At the other, the fine art world has spiralled into elitism, abstraction, and cynicism. Art is everywhere, but it often seems irrelevant to real, everyday life.
Similarly, churches often see art as a nicety, little more than a bit of self-expression or escape. But the best art explores what it means to be a flesh-and-blood human, by digging into the depths of both suffering and joy: it inspires reflection, discovery and even life-change.
We organise local Hubs for artists to meet, share and pray: helping artists fight back at cynicism with whole-heartedness and generosity, creating art that's full-blooded and honest.
"The enduring task of Christian artists [is] to unmask pseudo-gods or false ideals and to reopen a vista toward the fullness of reality."
— Dr. E. John Walford
A healthy culture is a common good: a way for us to gather, to have some kind of 'common life' beyond mere survival. It It even helps us to handle our disagreement and differences well. Needless to say, our own culture isn't healthy in this regard.
Into this context, the church has often widened these divisions, engaging in ‘culture wars’, fighting a losing battle to be the loudest voice in the room. Art has been seen as a weapon on such a battlefield, with artists being expected to change what people think, not open up how people think.
We encourage artists to be champions of their artistic communities: creating a richer common life, being a faithful presence for Jesus, and making art that can heal divides.
"When you begin to see the possibilities of music, you desire to do something really good for people, to help humanity free itself from its hangups. I want to speak to their souls."
— John Coltrane
Working with both artists and churches, Sputnik wants to help change the current conversation between the church, the arts and the wider culture, within the next 30 years.
1. We want churches to become more welcoming and understanding of artists, so that more often than not, if an artist commits to a local church, it will cause their art to improve and not deteriorate.
2. We want to see more Christians known in their field for quality, innovation and vitality, rather than spending their time in a subculture bubble, or making irrelevant kitsch.
So, if you are a Christ-following artist in any medium, at any stage of your career, and you care about what you make – not just as a means to an end, but because your art matters – then we'd love to connect, and assist your art if we can. (See 'How to Get Involved with Sputnik')
If you are a church leader, and you'd like to help heal the rifts between artists and churches, so that we can benefit from each other again – we want to help facilitate that conversation.