Life and Art
Painting on Monhegan Island, Maine
Does art imitate life or does life imitate art? Apparently, whether life merely influences artistic expression or whether art influences our perception and behaviors were questions debated by Aristotle and Plato!
We all are imitators and influencers. We formulate our own life views from the ideas, behaviors, and artistic expressions of the people and the culture we know and then model it to others. Written words may change the course of one’s life as one acquires a personal world view. Fashions reflect the way we feel about ourselves whether mod, goth, hip, cool, professional, or wealthy and fashionable, but they also contribute to one’s sense of self respect and to performance. Violence, drug use, and immorality in tv programs, movies, theatrical performances, or video games may have their origins in personal experiences but also affect attitudes and life styles of those who view these activities.
Creativity is a characteristic of God. He spoke into being all that is good in this vast and mysterious cosmos which displays His ” invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature.” (Genesis 1)(Romans 1:20) If we are created in God’s image, our creativity must be meant to be more than self expression of an emotion, an idea, or a perception. Its derivation is good. So, shouldn’t a poet’s poetry, a photographer’s lighting, a painter’s shades and tones, a musician’s notes and lyrics, a dancer’s steps, and the inking of words point us toward a greater wonder or truth?
Scripture does that. Humanity’s good, bad and ugly behaviors are on display through historical records, revelations, stories, parables, teachings, and exhortations. It reveals life as it is, who we are, and who God is. It directs us to God through redemptive faith. It teaches a universal moral code which gives definition to right and wrong, encourages discernment, holds parents responsible for modelling and teaching moral values, and exhorts us to guard our mind by considering what is good, true, honorable, pure, commendable, and worthy of praise . (Philippians 4:8) Scripture encourages believers to learn from one another, to consider the faith of the Saints, to imitate the character of God, to walk as Jesus did, to joyfully live out the Gospel with mercy, grace, love, kindness, forgiveness, and an enduring peace filled spirit. Scripture is powerful and changes lives when revered.
In truth, we are “works of art!” Whether our image is one of lost, restless, wandering sheep or molded pottery or children of God or a “tapestry”, we are working through the choices and meaning and purposes of our lives in the context of created beings:
“Our lives are but fine weavings, that God and we prepare/ each life becomes a fabric planned/ and fashioned in His care…..We may not always see/just how the weavings intertwine/ but we must follow the Master’s hand and trust His design/ For He can view the pattern/ upon the upper side while we must look from underneath/ and trust in Him to guide….The dark threads are as needed/in the Weaver’s skillful hand/as the threads of gold and silver/ in the pattern He has planned.” (Excerpts from the “Master Weaver”)
“Art” is who we are. As individual people, we have our own distinctive songs, color palettes, and dance moves, but in whatever way our lives are expressed, our giftedness is a tool for good and should honor the One from whom all good and perfect gifts come.