i will not take these things for granted

thoughts on this and that in an attempt to live reflectively

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Location: Little Rock, Arkansas, United States

Friday, July 20, 2007

Why should there be any starving artists?

Why, when it came time to choose a college and a major, did I, as a person with some artistic talent, feel that in order to put my talent to use and at the same time make a decent living I had to become an architect? Why, when I found that architecture wasn’t for me, did the architecture advisor warn me that in my decision to switch majors and study art I was taking the risk of becoming a starving artist? As an art major, why are media such as graphic design or photography seen as avenues to good jobs while painting, drawing, sculpture are not?

We reap the benefits of art everyday—from music on the radio, to TV shows and movies, to clothing fashion, to architectural design, to the books we read, to the posters and pictures and paintings we use to decorate our homes, and on and on it goes—yet art as a career is disparaged because it’s less lucrative than a degree in something like business or engineering.

But what would the world be without art?

Boring, lifeless. That's what.

I’ve been blessed this summer with a couple opportunities to travel—around the Czech Republic with my parents and around Italy (with a stop in Vienna, Austria, as well) with friends. And all of it centered on art. Whether enjoying the beauty of God’s artwork along the coasts of Italy or humanity’s artwork while craning my neck in the Sistine Chapel, or orbiting Bernini’s sculptures in the Borghese museum, or experiencing Hundert Wasser’s art and architecture in Vienna.

In the Hundertwasser museum, one of his quotes on the wall read something like: To paint is a spiritual experience.

It really is. Making art is very spiritual. As is experiencing the art others have made.

And God is the Great Artist. And we, created in his image, art artists as well.

We need to realize this again in our churches.

What happened to the days when churches supported artists—when they commissioned artists to create art to express the story of God in the Bible and church history and to help people to experience and connect with God? What if instead of just having paid ministers and missionaries, churches also had artists whose ministerial job was to create art and to teach others to create it as well—all with the purpose of helping God’s people to express themselves and their experiences with the Divine in their journey through life?

Could that not aid our worship?
Could it not help us to wrestle and mature spiritually?
Could it not be therapeutic and healthy?
Could it not provide avenues for sharing the good news with others?
Could it not serve as a vehicle for calling both the church and the world to more responsible and ethical living?

I think so. And I pray that our churches may experience renewal through the arts.

[And if a day comes when churches or individual Christians take artists under their wings, giving them the opportunity to create, I hope that those providing the money will not control those they've hired, but rather give them the freedom to create what they feel compelled to create, even if the end product turns out to be a criticism of the church or society.]

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