27 September 2015

"...praise should be the permanent pulsation of the soul."

“People are more themselves when joy is the fundamental thing in them, and grief the superficial. Melancholy should be an innocent interlude, a tender and fugitive frame of mind; praise should be the permanent pulsation of the soul. Pessimism is at best an emotional half-holiday; joy is the uproarious labor by which all things live.”
–G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

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14 September 2015

good art

One of our Creative Call PlayGroup participants appeared in an art show last week. Here are some words of encouragement I wrote to her after the show...I hope it proves an encouragement to you, too!



You are a true artist. You should never doubt that.

On Tuesday, I tried looking for something good at the art show. Here is what I saw:

Some of the pieces were well-painted;
the photographs were stunning in color and composition;
there was a cute series with a fox and a lily;
another man’s art was versatile;
there was an artist with accomplished stylings of Chicago;
a jewelry maker with pieces that were intricate but mostly too large;
but your work was exceptional and best.

Let me tell you why.

Your work was redemptive. “Nothing Wasted.”

Though the photographs were well-taken…they were ugly. Pictures of waste. Maybe they were pictures about mourning decay. But mourning the night is redemptive only when Morning, whose second name is Joy, moves in. Brokenness without healing is just brokenness.

Your work portrayed a story of precious material…thrown away…and reclaimed to become something it could never become on its own without the Loving Hand of a Master Artist. Your work was imbued with dignity. And, because of its whimsy (who takes aluminum cans and makes flowers, anyway?) your work showed us what a smiling queen looks like.  So beautiful. We need more of that. 

Your work was understated. The rings you make do not have to be big. They are big by being small. They do not have to lust after attention. Their tiny simplicity causes one to lean in to get a closer look. Looking for beauty is a movement of desire. The looker wants to look. I wanted more light so I could see more clearly the contours of the piece. So, I held the ring and angled it this way and that closer to the bulb to get a better look. That’s good art, my friend.

Your work was not superficial. It wasn’t merely “pretty.” It was truthful. Your work held two notions in tension: what a thing had been and what it could be. The hopeful aspect of your work is its beauty. In your work truth and beauty are unified.

Some people believe there is no truth. Pilate could see no truth and because of that he could see no beauty in the disfigured Christ and because of that he could see no goodness in the world, only corruption, only a game to be played, politics and perceptions, attempts to placate frustration.

Some people believe in truth but divorce it from beauty and goodness. I saw plenty of this at the show. Pieces that portrayed someone’s reality…they are being truthful, real with how they feel or what they see…but there is no beauty in it.

There are others who wanted to portray beauty…but it was divorced from truth. Their work was pretty but it lacked depth that made you want to keep looking at it, searching for something substantive…feasting instead of snacking on Funyons.

Your display table was too small for the feast you laid out. Your work was true and beautiful and good.

I think your work displayed this because of the person you are and the person you are becoming. Your art reflected the “was, and is and is to come.” Your art had much of the God in you and you in your God.

Your art was not perfect. Maybe that is what I liked best. I like your art because I like the person you are becoming. You are learning to live with the truth that nothing precious should be thrown away like so much trash.

We don’t throw away a marriage thoughtlessly because it’s dented. We work with it. It will become something even more beautiful when we work with it, believing it can become something wonderful. The belief is risky. When you work with something in belief you feel you might just be taking junk and making it a different kind of junk on a different day. It takes guts to work with broken, thrown out things.

But what do you have to lose? Even if it turns out to be the same old junk on a different day the muscles you exercise in working with it make you a better, stronger person…so, either way, the world is better off and so are you and so are we. You’ve got nothing to lose.

I noticed you had love as a centerpiece, too. Love in large red letters, shining with so many marquee lights. I liked that, but you didn’t need it because everything else that was displayed at your booth communicated love. Still, it was good to see.

You had some other words spelled out, too. I liked those best. In particular, the word Freedom. Freedom gives love legs. Without freedom, love isn’t love. To grant and receive freedom is to love and be loved. You are free to be you, tattooed and blue-haired. I am free to be me, pudgy and old, but goofy in my plain ol’ striped shirt. The difference and the love for the difference makes all the difference.

I liked your work best at the art show because it was different than all the others. Your work was redemptive, beautiful, humble, playful, noble, filled with faith and hope, in touch with reality, a reflection of your true self, at peace with imperfection.

My charge to you is this: Stay true to the art in you which is the art beyond you.