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Performer Tim Hartman discusses impact of art and faith on his life

Performer Tim Hartman discusses impact of art and faith on his life
Tim Hartman said during a virtual speaking engagement via Zoom that God made us to be creative. (Campbellsville University Photo by Gerard Flanagan)

By Gerard Flanagan, news writer/photographer/social media, Office of University Communications

CAMPBELLSVILLE, Ky. –How did a self-proclaimed goofball end up using his artistic talents to praise God?

Tim Hartman hasn’t taken the typical route in sharing the message of God.

You won’t find him behind a pulpit on Sunday morning. Instead, you’ll likely find him doing a stand-up comedy act or performing in a play.

“God made us to be creative,” Hartman, who lives in Pittsburgh, Pa., said during a speaking engagement via Zoom to Campbellsville University theater students recently at the Russ Mobley Theater. “God blessed me with lots of different skills. I learned early on I wanted art to be the general thrust of what I did.”

Hartman’s original college plans were to study ministry, but he soon discovered he wouldn’t be involved in formal ministry.

“With the skills I had, I didn’t want to limit myself to just pulpit work or counseling,” Hartman said. “I don’t feel like I’d be a very good counselor, but I’d be a pretty good communicator.”

Hartman decided to continue studying the Bible, but he also chose to minor in fine arts.

One of Hartman’s many passions has been performing for children. His biography said he’s performed for an estimated two million children over a 30-year span.

“Telling stories to children, the world doesn’t value that much,” Hartman said. “But I take it very seriously. There is no greater joy than being in front of 500 children who have never been exposed to the arts, and a guy sitting on a stool tells them a story, and they go from being raucous to totally entranced in a great story. That’s a joy for me every day.”

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit the entertainment industry last year, Hartman thought his life and career would be put on hold. God, however, had other plans for him, he said.

“The exact opposite happened,” Hartman said. “God gave me opportunities to serve and make a living in ways I never expected.”

Hartman has been professionally acting, singing, writing, cartooning and storytelling since 1982. According to his biography, Hartman is known primarily for his work on the stage, including nearly 300 plays and musicals and appearances on Broadway in “A Tale of Two Cities” and the Tony nominated “Finian’s Rainbow.”

His favorite roles include C.S. Lewis in the Pittsburgh premier of “Shadowlands,” Don Quixote in “The Man of La Mancha” and Daddy Warbucks in “Annie.”

For 30 years, Hartman, an award-winning political cartoonist and illustrator, has performed in “A Musical Christmas Carol,” a production that has a special meaning for him.

“I do that show because it’s about redemption,” he said. “I get to stand on a stage and say the name of Jesus Christ in front of thousands of people and teach them about how He can change your life.”

Hartman said part of being a Christian artist involves being honest about the less pleasant aspects of life.

“If we ignore that…we are doing a disservice to the message of the Scriptures, which is this is a hard life, but God gives you hope,” he said.

Over the years, art and faith have taught Hartman a valuable lesson.

“Whenever I’ve tried to steer where I’m going, I’ve failed,” Hartman said. “This has been a total faith walk for me. I always tell people, faith is not just some philosophical thing. Faith is being able to say, ‘I can tell you the moments God put me places.’ God has taken a big goofball from Pittsburgh and given him a career in the arts.”

Campbellsville University is a widely acclaimed Kentucky-based Christian university with more than 12,000 students offering over 100 programs of study including Ph.D., master, baccalaureate, associate, pre-professional and certification programs. The website for complete information is www.campbellsville.edu.