Moment of honesty: sometimes I feel like what I do doesn't really matter. I mean, I sit at home and paint (and sundry activities) all day. I know, that probably sounds like a dream and, don't get me wrong, I love art, and
painting has always been a hobby of mine. But sometimes it seems so superficial. As a classic over-thinker,
painting gives me a lot of time to be lost in my own thoughts and to question the reasons for why I do what I
do. When there are terrible things happening in the world and real issues at stake, shouldn't I be doing things
that affect real change in the world?
I don't mean to sound depressing here, I just seek to understand why art is important. Why is there a desire in us to seek and create beauty? And what do these desires mean for us as individuals and as a culture?
Needless to say, I do think art matters. And not just on a superficial level, but on some deeper level. I've said before that beauty in art gives us glimmers of our creator. The world is not a one dimensional place, but a place teeming with life and rich emotions. So it's worth thinking about why there is beauty in the world and what part art plays in all of this. When there is darkness in the world, we do well to look for the light.
First off, we could debate all day about what art really is, but I like to stick to the good old Webster Dictionary definition: the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form...producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.
Art can manifest itself in many forms in many places. I've seen beauty in inner city Chicago. I've seen art in the nature of the National Parks I've lived near. There is art in a well crafted meal or powerful symphony.
So here are some reasons that I think art matters...
Art teaches us to pay attention to the world around us. It freezes a moment or a place and expresses it in a way that forces us to notice something we might have passed over otherwise.
Art is therapeutic. By creating, we are expressing a deeper part of our being.
For many years, art was intended to capture history and now it portrays stories and events that play an important role in who we are now.
Art can transport us somewhere we've never been.
It can incite imagination, especially when the artist leaves things to the imagination.
It brings joy. Some art is simply intended to add life and joy to our lives when we look at it.
Art reflects the beauty of creation.
Art sometimes forces us to ask important questions. Why is this piece important? What does it say about the world we live in? About our God?
Likewise, art can point us to God.
Art reminds us that we are created in the image of our creator. As we create, we image a creative God.
And all of this matters. Bringing beauty to the ordinary matters. Reflecting God matters.
We can show Jesus to others in so many different ways as God reveals himself to us is so many ways.
Over ten years ago, when I was a bright eyed college student, I visited the art museum in Chicago. I took the train alone to get to the museum across town from my friend's apartment. It was transformative. Before I ever thought I would be an artist one day, I wrote,
"I feel a certain oneness with the artist; I imagine what they could have been thinking. This true talent captures reality in such a way that reality becomes beauty, and beauty, art. This is truly breathtaking, and yet, I can breath again. There is art in much of what we see, some hidden that must be sought after, and some more obvious, catching our eye as we pass."
What I do matters. What you do matters. It may not be in the creation of a painting, but it might be in the creating of a thoughtful conversation, a meal, a cozy home. Life is more nuanced than simply black and white, and we can embrace the depth of the gifts God has given us to add light to the world. To open our eyes to the world we live in and really see. And then to create ar
I'd love to know what you would add to the list. Comment below to tell me why you think art matters.