Your Art Matters

The older I get, as I look back on my life and the experiences of my generation fade into oblivion, I sometimes wonder- does anyone care about the things I care about anymore?  Am I the only one who is passionate about the things I’m passionate about?   And, as I look back on the things I’ve learned about the Arts and my craft, I wonder, do they matter?  Do these things hold any significance for the future?

I’m not sure I know the answers to these questions, but it occurred to me that as I sometimes look back to reflect on these things, that perhaps there are young artists, looking forward, who may be wondering the exact same things.  Well, to those young and emerging artists, let me answer at least one of those questions for you- your Art matters.  It matters, not because it will be auctioned off at Christie’s next week for millions of dollars, or because you have been offered a recording contract and a worldwide tour.  It matters because you matter and because your Art is an expression of who you are and who God created you to be.

In an artistic culture that values celebrity and commercialism over content and craft, the search for significance for a young or an emerging artist is a bumpy road, and certainly not a path for the faint of heart.   Being an artist is a complex thing.  An artist is defined both by the Art he produces and at the same time, who he is defines his Art.  Great Art is truthful Art and an artist’s creativity, work ethic, and craftsmanship speaks volumes about who the artist is and what he believes to be true.  When we as an audience hear, see, and otherwise experience works of Art, we are changed by it, by the beauty of what was created, because when we experience it, the beauty of the Art reaches our soul and connects us to God.  We see Him through the artist’s eyes in and through what was created.

So I say to all the artists out there- your singing, your acting, your layouts, your films, your playing, your Art matters.  It matters to you, it matters to the world, and it matters to God.  The journey of an artist is a sacred journey.  From the moment God formed you in your mother’s womb, he gave you a personality, a temperament, and certain gifts and talents.  Those gifts and talents mixed with your desires are what become your passions in life.  In our modern American culture, passion means that thing you are most interested in pursuing or the thing you care the most about.  In biblical terms, the word passion means to suffer.  The passion story is the story of the suffering of Jesus.  As artists, we understand that following your passion can cause you to suffer.  The question is, how much suffering are you willing to endure to do what you are called to do?  Following your passion and striving to do it at the highest-level possible costs you something.

There is a film that came out earlier this year called “Whiplash.”  It’s the story of a young man who wants to play the drums in the top Jazz Band at his college.  The director of the band sets an extremely high standard and expects nothing less than perfection from every member of the group at every moment.  In one scene, the director tests the skill of three drummers by having them play at an extremely fast tempo.  The young man in the story plays to the point where his hands start to bleed and yet, he keeps playing.  Why?  How many of us would have called a time out at that point and asked for medical attention?  And why would a teacher push a student to that point?  Was he masochistic?  Some might say yes, but I think the director of the band wanted to see not only how good the players were, but he also wanted to see how much they were willing to give or to suffer to be great.

Now, I’m not advocating that as young artists you push yourselves to the point of bodily harm, but I would say that it would be appropriate for you to push yourself further than your current comfort level, push yourself further than you think you can go.  Because, to be good at something requires an investment in suffering- an investment of effort, of prayer, of practice, of money sometimes, but mostly of your time and your attitude.  The truth is, to be really great at that thing God has gifted you to do artistically will cost you; the same way that being great on the basketball court, or the soccer field will cost you.  Following your passion will cost you.  But, there is nothing in this life worth having that doesn’t also cost you something. In our common human experience we know that childbirth will cost you, getting fit will cost you, supporting your spouse’s dream may cost you, being a follower of Jesus will cost you, and doing that thing that God created you to do will cost you, if you do it with all your heart- not for awards, or for money, or the applause of men, but for His glory, offering your gifts back to Him with thanksgiving for what he has allowed you to create.

Some of you who have been working at your craft for some time now might say, I’m just not inspired, I’m tired, it’s just too hard, and I need a break.  Well, if you are feeling that way, you probably do.  But after you’ve had a bit of a break, ask God to inspire you and refuel you and then do something proactive- take a class, go to a museum, go to a concert or a play or a musical, watch a classic film, doodle, read a book you’ve wanted to read, cook a great meal, or plant some flowers.  Find a way to reconnect or to connect with the Lord in a different way and then work at your passion, knowing that at times it will cost you, but knowing that in the end, it will be worth it. Look for the Lord and you will find Him and be renewed.  Why?  Because your Art matters.  It matters because you matter, and because it is an expression of who you are and who God created you to be.  And when you share your Art with the world, you draw us closer to God and you make the world a more beautiful place.

1 Comment
  • Ron Owens
    October 27, 2015

    Beautifully written, Jessica. From the heart. We’re so proud of you!

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