Last month I had an art installation. As part of the installation I had to write an artist’s statement. In order to write an artist’s statement however, one needs to think of oneself as an artist. For me, making a piece of art, one piece, is a relatively easy process; aspiring to continuously make art is a pervasive feeling. But, thinking of myself as an artist ties knots in my stomach. I do not understand completely why that label carries such weight. Maybe the label is so heavy because my desire coupled with my formal training, where words like rigor and excellence have been put on pedestals, has caused a shadow of doubt to settle over my self-perceived abilities. Or, perhaps the angst has more to do with an up-bring in which art was something other people did but if you must then remember it is only a hobby and for God’s sake clean up after yourself.
Before we left South Bend, about eight years ago, my scenic and lighting designer husband started drawing with pastels at church…during the service…up in the front. Prior to that I had not ever thought about art in connection to God. Oh sure I heard about Michelangelo’s David and Leonardo’s The Last Supper but that was history, the Renaissance, the Catholic Church. Contemporary art had nothing to do with God, at least good contemporary art had nothing to do with God (so said the art critic snob in me).
Fast forward eight years, my husband is now painting grapes and vineyards. His current work was birthed out of the prophetic art he began in South Bend. My oldest son is a slowly emerging poet. My second son (a heretic by many church standards) has his sites set on a career in film and wants all his work to be a reflection of God even if those “in the church” might not see it that way. My third son desires, in some ways, to follow in his father’s footsteps and pursue a career as a theatrical designer. As his very proud mother I see much of his life, from how he dresses to what he tempts my taste buds with, as a reflection of his Creator. My daughters are still finding their artistic voices. The youngest thinks any surface of the house ought to be her canvas. The oldest acts and plays the alto sax, sings and dances. The later two as an expression of worship and her passion. And I, I am struggling with what it means to want to pull from the depths (the places only God has seen) of who I am and how I think and what truly matters and put it on canvas or in writing or mold it out of clay. I struggle with letting my weak skill represent the voice of God I equally struggle to hear. But in those hours when I doubt I can tread water for one more second I am buoyed by the understanding that our God is a creative God and we no matter how tired or frustrated or defeated are still made in His image.
This is not part of the Synchroblog but it could be maybe even should be since I don’t know if I will get my “other” thoughts typed out by the 9th. Still I started it before I knew the topic for this month and well, I do have some other thoughts about creativity and God so we will see.