Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Is Art That Important?

Monday, through a snowstorm, over a mountain pass, a friend and I hauled a few of our creations to the Durango,Colorado, Art Center's show- "Four Corners Commission", juried by Veryl Goodnight, renowned sculpture and painter, who has settled back in Colorado, after a few decades in Santa Fe.
Maybe it was that I finished one of my pieces at 4 o'clock that morning- felt like I was back in college again- but seeing art work- not adorning wall, with good lighting-but leaning here and there, sometimes two or three frames deep, piled on pedestals, with bubble wrap surrounding the frames-well, to be honest the whole lot, including my stuff- really didn't look that impressive.
I have no doubt, that come Friday night, when the art reception is,when the jurying is done and the artwork is hung perfectly on the walls, and set on the pedestals, and the lighting is just so, when the titles and prices of hundreds or thousands of dollars, are mounted next to the work and the winners are announced- the same artwork that was not that awe inspiring on Monday, leaning on the floor- will be seen in a whole different light.
I was talking to a friend about the whole thing, and we agreed- Art- really- is nothing- grandiose doodling- but still someone doodling- a few bucks of material- painted, scratched or put together-on some surface.
But then again Art is everything- We build museums to house artists doodles- the Louvre, the Met- and what once was irreverently leaning on the floor of Van Gogh's studio- being overlooked by everyone-since he maybe sold one piece of artwork in his life- now- is protected by guards, sensors and climate controls and insured in the millions.
Hitler went searching for art- and the French kept most of it from him- hiding Di Vincis literally in barns and root cellars. Pharaoh and Roman Popes spent much of their lives, concerned about what "doodles" would adorn their tombs. Even our first ancestors, as soon as they picked up a stick, to hunt and survive with, picked up a stick to draw and record- but what?
"I was here, I existed, I leave this behind to speak for me?"
NPR- had an interesting piece on "Obama and the Arts"
where he talked about the importance of the Arts in tough times and how it helps define us as a nation and helps us look towards better times.
Tuesday, found me down at Battlerock, teaching and as I watched my little kindergartner's delight in turning water blue and dragging a paint brush over their paper- I was still pondering why " Art is so important?" and I thought back to what my friend said in our conversation- that we were created in God's image and God is a creator and I think that is what it is.
The essence of God in us, makes us need to create- the reason why the first stick was picked up and a image was made on a rock, why children, before they can speak are creating- delighting in the "senses" of this world- the sights, sounds, smells and textures.
As it says in Romans chapter one- creation is a testament to God-how can anyone look at a mountain top, a soaring eagle or a newborn baby and even question a Creator- but after Paul gives us that argument- he also points out that we humans, unfortunately have "exchanged the Creator, for the created." switching from worshipping the Maker- to what He has made- to worshiping a " energy force" and draw whatever we want from it- as Julie Cameron, encourages in her many "Artist Way" Books.
I disagree with Cameron- there is a Maker behind what is made, a God, who gave us a wondrous world to live in and be inspired by, and generously breathed that desire to create in each of us.
But who also is a "jealous" God- his creations exist for one reason- to speak loudly of His existence. Isn't that the reason we all create- to as I said before- " I was here, this is who I am?" Why would it be any different for the "Great I AM"

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