January 2017 – It can be tempting to think that only people who do great deeds or who stand as pillars of morality are deserving of God’s special favor. But Scripture paints a different picture: “But on this one will I look: on him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at My word” (Isaiah 66:2b).
Elsewhere it is said, “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6). Clearly, in His holiness and transcendence, God is not impressed by a man’s strength or wisdom, but He will show favor on anyone who is broken and humble, who is not even impressive to others.
This truth is at the core of what artist Chris McGahan strives to reflect in his creations. A glassblower, McGahan has dedicated his work to the glory of God by creating art that is both beautiful and filled with spiritual significance. McGahan shared with AFA Journal how humility and brokenness often meet beauty in art.
“Our signature work is called Redento Raffinato (‘Redeemed Elegance’ in Italian),” McGahan said. “It is made of broken pieces, discarded pieces, or scraps from other things that we considered worthless and used to throw away. My son Micah came up with the idea of taking those broken pieces and arranging them on a ceramic plate, heating them, and rolling them up on a blowpipe and blowing a beautiful vase.”
McGahan first took up glass blowing when he received a series of lessons as a birthday gift. Then he founded Bella Forte Glass Studio as well as Italian Jim’s Restaurant in Edmond, Oklahoma. Owning the workshop and the restaurant makes for a busy schedule, but McGahan has not lost his vision for his art.
“There are remarkable parallels that accompany every step and point toward the work of Christ in our lives, starting with the broken pieces,” he said. “We all have failures and shortcomings in our lives. Who would have thought that the broken or discarded ‘worthless’ pieces that represent failure could be used to make something even more beautiful and valuable than what was originally intended? But that is exactly what we do. Every single step throughout the process points clearly to Christ at work in our lives.”
This inherent theme of redemption has worked powerfully not only in the lives of McGahan and his fellow artists, but also in those who have purchased and enjoyed the beauty of the Redento Raffinato.
“I have seen many spiritual returns from the message that is communicated from our Redento Raffinato vases,” the artist said. “I have seen people who were broken and felt discarded; people who had let the light of hope for a better future go dim. Once hearing and seeing what can happen through the illustration of the steps in making the Redento Raffinato, I have seen the light come on in people and see them regain hope and move forward. God also blesses me by enabling me to make a living doing what I love.”
McGahan’s art beautifully illustrates how God can use the hands of a skilled craftsman for His glory when the artist is humble and focused on honoring God. “I think God can be glorified in ways we haven’t even thought about yet,” McGahan said. “If a person is seeking God and open to Him, then God can use nearly anything to make a connection to Himself.”
bellaforteglass.com – A video at the Bella Forte website features McGahan explaining the making of Redento Raffinato vases and how they illustrate God’s work in lives of Christians.