when people find out you’re an artist

you hear people talk a lot about figuring out how to use their art to “glorify god”.  and i have people constantly looking at me with disappointment when i tell them i don’t want to be a full-time “professional” artist.  as in i don’t want to support myself (monetarily) on my paintings/drawings.  usually this is followed by something like, “but god gave you that talent for a reason.  you should use it!”  i then try to explain that i still make art – how could i possibly stop?  i just don’t want to turn it into a business.  i don’t think it needs to make money to glorify god.  and where did we get that crazy idea anyway?

today i was riding in a car with a dear friend and talented photographer on our way from iowa to illinois for a wedding.  she played a song for me by a.a.bondy called “killed myself when i was young”.  it has this incredible driving snare drum and every line is repeated twice before moving on to the next.  it’s an incredible song – i wish i could find a recorded copy on line with the drums, but this is at least something.

we were talking about how it sounds like a song a mutual friend would have written.  and my train of thought started picking up steam:  i wish i could write lyrics like that…music has incredible power, though, and those words wouldn’t have half the power without the music driving them….i wish i could write music to go behind my words….it’s too bad i can’t use that medium as another tool…what if a friend took my words and put them to music? even if i was the only one who ever heard the song….around a campfire or something…i would love that sort of collaboration….i love collaborative art – whatever the medium….what is it about collaboration i love so much?

i don’t know about your thoughts, but my thoughts aren’t easily categorized or drawn out or written out.  the complexity of thoughts is one of the reasons i don’t feel like one medium can describe them.  i think in words and graphite and paint and wood and metal – all at the same time.  but my favorite has become art collaboration – art made between more than one person.  especially collaboration that doesn’t stay within a single medium.  no limits boxing in thoughts.

a friend and i began a conversation in writing several months ago.  that conversation continued, but it has now become a conversation in wood, paint, graphite, shells, locks, cogs, music, words, and whoeverelseknowswhat.  it seems more full than most conversations i have in a given day because the discussion has no limits boxing in our thoughts.  it’s a conversation that is helping me understand the world better, people better, god better.

and that’s when the lights started blinking in the back portion of my brain:  worship – another ongoing conversation in my life and in my head these days.  i think worship often takes the form of one of the arts.  maybe there’s a reason for that.  [i heard once that when we’re told we were “made in the image of god” a big part of that is that we’re created and creative beings]  when our hearts are overwhelmed with gratitude it flows out in the form of one art or another.  i think that glorfies god even if it sits in your closet, but i don’t think it was meant to sit in your closet.  i also don’t think it was meant to hang in a gallery waiting for someone to spend thousands of dollars on it to decorate a “home” that’s made of paper and glue.  [at least that’s not what i want my art to do…]  maybe art glorifies god best when it strengthens community.  after all, christ was big on community – on sharing resources, needs, woes, joys, meals, lives.

i’ve heard people talk about how individual worship’s great and personal and wonderful, but that we must not forget the importance of communal worship.  often when they say this they’re referring to the 3 songs before the sermon on sunday morning when everyone stands somewhat awkwardly and sings a song someone else wrote and they probably can’t recall the lyrics afterwards because they’ve sung it so many times their heart goes on autopilot as their lips form the words.  yes, that’s a pessimistic view.  (i’m working on that.)  and yes, i know some people can genuinely worship during this time.  (i’ve just never been able to.)

but back to the point:  collaborative art as communal worship.  i’m not saying collaborative arts are the only way to communally worship our creator, but i’m definitely saying i love the realization that that’s what it is:  allowing what might just be our most god-like characteristic to meld and join and sharpen one another in community.  my heart warms just thinking about how much joy that brings our creator.


2 Responses to “when people find out you’re an artist”

  1. 1 DubHow June 17, 2009 at 12:01 pm

    Couldn’t agree more. Great stuff Calais. Keep on the journey you are on… it’s a beautiful one.

  1. 1 missio dei (updated. again.) « out on a walk Trackback on June 22, 2009 at 9:38 pm

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Keep me away from the wisdom which does not cry, the philosophy which does not laugh and the greatness which does not bow before children.
-Kahlil Gibran

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