Pinterest discoveries, Glen Keane, and Christian Art

I'm blogging right now mainly to keep myself from interrupting my studious roommates, who probably don't appreciate my little-fun-facts-learned-on-pinterest updates every two minutes.

So let me set a scene for you.

This is me. Toy Story t-shirt, comfy pj pants, sitting crosslegged in Hannah's Plaid Chair with Matilda the Macbook in my lap. (Yes, that's her name; don't judge.)

My phone beeps with a text message every so often, as Once Upon a Time is airing tonight with the first look at Anna and Elsa--(Yes, *that* Anna and Elsa.)--in Storybrooke, and my Jor is keeping me updated on its non-horribleness. (We had feared greatly that our favorite characters--our very Disney Dopplegangers--would be butchered by ABC.)

Since I can't watch the episode myself till it comes up on Hulu, I satisfy my Frozen craving with a Disney concept art curation session... on Pinterest of course. As usual, I let the pins lead me, in that beautiful down-the-rabbit-hole way that my pinning habits seem to follow. I tumble into a Wonderland of rosemaling and costume sketches by Brittany Lee, then my interest is piqued by a bit of Claire Keane work on the side; I haven't seen much of her Frozen work. Her Frozen sketches are, inevitably, overtaken by art from Tangled, Rapunzel's golden locks replacing Elsa's snowflakes. The farther I scroll, the more Claire's work becomes interspersed with that of her father, Glen Keane, also a Disney animator and concept artist.

And then I make a connection.

One small caption states Claire Keane's relation to the great comic strip artist, Bil Keane--her grandfather--known for Family Circus; everything clicks together. The wheels in my head start cranking, remembering, recognizing, drawing a firm line from one dot in my present to a tiny dot in my past, and the picture is complete. I remember Adam Raccoon, the main character of a series of pictures books, little Christian parables for kids. Of course, Glen Keane wrote those. I remember it now. I remember thinking as a kid how cool it was that the author of those books was connected to that favorite comic strip. Now, I think how cool it is that he's a Disney artist, too.

So, naturally, I now search Glen's work. I want to know what he's worked on other than Tangled. I turn up Little Mermaid, Pocahontas, and Tarzan. Then I find this video: (Watch it! it's short!)

I'm in tears as I watch it; for as long as I can remember I've had a strong emotional reaction to the Beast's transformation scene in Beauty and the Beast. I loved the rainfall with its sparks of magic, and the way that the Beast is lifted up into the air, cocooned in his cloak, his hands... feet...then finally, his whole person being transformed from beast to human, with a great display of light radiating forth from every part of him. In my mind, I always held that scene as an picture of how we as Christians should be when made new in Christ. The symbolism of light--letting the light of Christ shine through my life--was easy to hold on to. I understand a great many things better through stories. But I always thought that was just my personal interpretation. I had no idea then that the animator at his desk, drawing this iconic scene was thinking almost just that, and this discovery tonight was gold indeed.

To be a Christian artist doesn't necessarily mean depicting literal Bible stories. More often it means letting what you know to be True about God influence the stories we tell, the images we create, the music we write. Even though the message isn't blatantly stamped across the page, screaming "I'm Christian!", it will still resonate true in the hearts of those who seek truth, pointing us back to God.

You go, Glen Keane. Thank you.

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