My mom is my biggest fan. She has a wall in her house dedicated exclusively to my artwork (for real!); not to mention the various other nooks and crannies that contain my paintings and pottery. She used to commission me to paint vines and flowers around the door frames in our house. She greedily snatches paintings off my walls when she comes to visit. And she raised me with the freedom to pursue my interest when I probably should have been doing my math homework (shout out to the old Saxon math book that more times than not ended up under my bed). In return, I reward her enthusiasm by regularly contributing to her collections every Christmas and letting her strip my walls of artwork like the dutiful daughter that I am.
But she’s my mom! Isn’t there some kind of contractual agreement you sign when you take your baby home from the hospital that you’ll dote over her accomplishments no matter how mediocre they might be? Of course she loves my paintings…she doesn’t have any other offspring that can paint so she doesn’t know what to compare it to (although all my siblings possess other unique and amazing skills). Most of my life, I’ve been embarrassed to think that anyone besides my mother would value my artwork. Dare I really think that anyone outside of my immediate family will appreciate what I have to offer?
When I think about the vast sea of art made so readily available through the internet, it makes the thought of sharing anything I produce a little daunting. Just a few minutes on Etsy or any of the plethora of art-sharing sites leaves me curled up in the fetal position in the corner (hyperbole much?). There is so much beautiful and amazing art out there and millions of talented people in the United States alone. What do I have to offer the world that isn’t already out there?
But maybe my perspective needs to change. Maybe it’s not the world I’m trying to reach, but the smaller circles that I influence, whether that’s in person or in my little corner of cyberspace. Maybe part of being in community means sharing our gifts and talents to bless each other and be a demonstration of God’s redemption in so many small ways.
I don’t need to be as talented as Norman Rockwell (my art hero!), or as world-renowned as da Vinci (can I even put myself in the same sentence with that genius?) to be able to bless others through art and beauty. No one has ever painted the brushstrokes that I have or has interpreted the world in the way my art has. I may well be squandering what God has given me when I assume that no one but my mom would value my unique perspective.
And next time you feel like you don’t have anything to offer others that is uniquely you, consider the individual gifts and perspectives that you have and find creative ways to connect with those around you to bless them through those gifts. You may be surprised at the blessings you receive in return.
For more articulate thoughts on the idea of sharing art with the local community, check out my talented sister-in-law’s guest post: A Sacrament of Song: On Exhibitionism, Local Art, And True Community.