To give credit where credit is due, this video from Alastair Gordon and friends about art and faith (also laundry-folding entertainment in my house) started me thinking about some of these things. If you have time, both are worth watching.
Something that struck me about the artists (I’m lumping poets, writers, and other makers in to the group “artists” here) in both videos was their humble acceptance of the goodness of their work. I tend towards a shrug and a deflection on the odd occasion when someone complements my work. It still feels like an indulgence to take the time to “make” at all, and to think that my work is well done, or stranger yet, serves some greater purpose, feels arrogant.
So it was both jarring and illuminating to see artists discuss their methods, their motivations, and their finished work as if it were totally normal to spend a work-day sketching by the seashore or filling enormous canvases with paint or scribbling sonnets – and to do it intentionally for the glory of God.
At the same time, it was helpful for me to see people whose expertise is in different fields appreciating the art. Like maybe, just maybe, art isn’t some special language only accessible to people who have earned an MFA.
I love the idea of art being just another one of the many ways a person might be called to serve God and neighbor. I guess in my mind art has always been set apart – as if a special kind of people who lead a radical kind of life are the only ones who can make art. These chosen few have special studios and strange ideas and are often anti-social. (Although, by that standard, maybe I have two out of three – no room for a studio here!) They also have nearly unlimited time to work on their craft, perfect their style, and make lots of mistakes on the way to finished pieces.
It’s been hard to see myself as part of this world, however much I might enjoy creating in my spare moments. I suffer from a distinct lack of studio, precious little time, and a dread of mistakes.
So it was good for me to watch these artists be normal people with families and big ideas, and to see that they simply have made the choice to make art their lives, to hone the gifts they were given, and to think deeply about how to best share those gifts with the world. Not to say that that’s easy, but it’s so helpful to see both that it can be done, and a glimpse of how a person actually goes about doing it.