Art is an activity that requires us to be fully present in the moment. When I pick up a brush or pull up a vessel on the wheel, I am concentrating on an immediate task; the moment that paint meets canvas, that fingers dig into clay. I find joy and excitement in these small moments of creativity, and yet as I have gotten older, I have found that my discovery and my view of the world is growing faster than my art can handle. I believe in the value of personal creativity, and yet I struggle with how to develop my artistic joy in a tangible way that has eternal significance and enriches the lives of people I desire to serve.
My worldview compels me to look beyond my own personal world, into the faces of the poor and helpless in this world and I question whether my own joy in art can be significant enough to offer to others. As I invest hours to canvases and toxic paint I find myself wondering if my own solitary, artistic effort could possibly extend beyond the four walls of my studio. I believe that to have true significance, the joy of art must extend beyond myself and touch other people. I believe art offers the world a chance to experience joy by providing a way to create something unique that proudly displays a deep part of an individual’s personality. However this joy is not the only offering, since God is the center of good things, the joy found in creative expression is bound to have eternal significance. God-given joy is a pathway for God to speak to each individual soul bringing deep personal transformation and healing when art connects a person’s heart with the character of God. Just as God has used creativity in my own life, I am now hopeful that He will use my creative joy to cross oceans and touch other hearts.
When I was five, creativity was breathed into everything I did. I remember losing myself in the creative pleasures of stick forts, muffin “baking” mixtures, and pen drawings scribbled on church bulletins. As a child, whatever I created was “art”. I remember imaginative joy welling up inside me at the possibilities of what my pen could do when I held it to a blank page. Here, I discovered one way that art would be deeply influential in my life; it gave me a safe space to become myself. The process of creativity takes place on such a personal level that it cannot help but bring insight into our own thoughts, understandings, and beliefs. God can use this art process to heal a person on the inside and to speak to a person’s heart.
God is the first artist. When I read the Bible and look out into the world, I am comforted when I realize how much evidence of God’s creative process and artwork in nature is on display for me to take in. As I see how He intentionally reveals Himself through creation and to creation, I become assured that there is great significance and purpose in the viewing of art. Aside from the Lord using art to heal through active participation, God has imprinted creation to reflect His character in ways that can only direct a person to The Ultimate Artist. His work surrounds me in forms of snowflakes, oceans, insects, and stars, proclaiming that creativity is significant to God. In Genesis the Lord, Himself, set an example for us to follow when He both celebrated the process of forming creation and found enjoyment in being with creation after it was created. With God as our example, art is something to be savored and enjoyed. As we follow this example I have to wonder if God uses the art process to speak to our own hearts and then uses our artwork to speak to others. When I put my pen to paper, dip a brush, or squint into a lens I am encouraged to know God may use these acts to speak directly my inner soul and use my art in speaking to others.
Witnessing God’s creativity gives me reassurance that He supports my own artistic efforts by encouraging through example. God has already shown endless creativity in color, imaginative design, and playful enjoyment in our world. It excites me to know I am walking a path that God, Himself, has paved. Knowing my God has gone before me gives me boldness to offer my own creative acts in a world where beauty can be tainted and harsh realities seem like the only reality. There are awful places in this fallen world and there are people who have a desperate need to see and remember the artistic qualities of their Creator. In the past I have felt discouraged when evil triumphs at the cost of innocence, but I am growing to understand that God’s artistic quality is a powerful tool in these circumstances. I am hopeful that the creative character of God can bring changing and lasting redemption to people who have lost their sense of beauty and have not been given spaces to create, and that God will use creativity to speak to their souls. The spiritual dimension of art reaches places inside of people where only God can enter, yet it is a privileged calling for the artist to be the instrument God chooses to reveal Himself.