Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Art IS Spiritual In Nature

The last time we met, we looked at additional ways to enhance our self-image. Specifically, we looked at the use of affirmation statements as a way to continually feed your mind positive thoughts about who you are as an artist.

Since it has been so long since our last talk, I hope you were able to put the extra time to good use by creating affirmation statements that are uplifting & help create a positive outlook in your life as an artist.

Remember the quote from Zig Ziglar; “your input determines your output.”

This week we are going to explore spirituality & art. We are going to explore why I believe that creating art is a truly spiritual experience.

Julia Cameron, the author of The Artist’s Way, acknowledges the link between art and spirituality in this quote:

“Creativity is a spiritual force. The force that drives the green fuse through the flower, as Dylan Thomas defined his idea of the life force, is the same urge that drives us toward creation. There is a central will to create that is part of our human heritage and potential. Because creation is always an act of faith, and faith is a spiritual issue, so is creativity. As we strive for our highest selves, our spiritual selves, we cannot help but be more aware, more proactive, and more creative.”

Think about the times when you are in the studio or out in nature creating works of art. Think about the feeling that you experience when you are in the zone painting or sculpting. It is a feeling of joy or bliss that fills your heart telling you that at that moment everything is meant as it should be. At that moment you are doing exactly what you were created to do.

The mural that I just completed in Deep Ellum is a good example. Most every day that I was downtown painting was a time of absolute joy. It didn’t matter that the temperature outside was 105 degrees. It didn’t matter that the surface I was working on was giving me fits because it was so roughly textured. I was doing exactly what I was meant to do at that moment. The experience was joyful, and even therapeutic. It was just me, my paint, a wall & time alone with God. It was extremely spiritual in nature.

I firmly believe that all work is spiritual, especially when it is the work that God has written on your heart to do.

I know that sometimes it is hard to believe that God would be so intimately involved in our lives, or that art could even play a role in God’s plans, but listen to the following verse from Exodus chapter 31 verses 1 through 4 regarding Bezalel:

Then the LORD said to Moses,
"See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability and knowledge in all kinds of crafts- to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of craftsmanship.

As you can see, it was God who filled Bezalel with His Spirit, and it was God who gave him the skill, ability & knowledge to make artistic designs. It was a completely spiritual process that was initiated by the Creator.

If God did that for Bezalel, could He do that for you? For me?

Would he do that for you? For me?

Do you believe that He could? Or would?

Take some time to think about it, to meditate on it & to pray about it.

Now, couple the verse from Exodus I just read with the verse from Jeremiah chapter 29 verse 11:

For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (NIV)

Is it possible that God truly does create us to be artists?

Is it possible that He desires you to prosper as an artist?

If God created you to be an artist, and to prosper as an artist, wouldn’t that make the act of creating art a spiritual process for you?

Again - Take some time to think about it, to meditate on it & to pray about it.

I believe that God truly does create artists, and I believe that He does intend them to prosper as well. I also believe that the very act of creating art IS a spiritual process.

By creating works of art we come closer to the Creator as we engage in the process of creation & we honor Him by creating works of art as we were created to do.

I believe that all work brings us closer to God, because our work is in itself an act of creation. It gives us insight into the Creator of the universe when we take part in the act of creation; whether it is creating a work of art, a poem, a song, or even an engineering report. However, I believe we artists are unique in that there is little framework for our act of creation. We are limited only by our imagination. I believe that brings us closer to understanding how God could create something as extraordinary as the universe from absolutely nothing.

With that in mind, let’s take a moment to examine some quotes from others who have found that there is a direct correlation between art and spirituality:

‘The music that really turns me on is either running toward God or away from God. Both recognize the pivot; that God is at the center of the jaunt.”
- Bono, U2

“The true work of art is but a shadow of the divine perfection.”
- Michelangelo

“To send light into the darkness of men's hearts - such is the duty of the artist.”
- Robert A. Schumann (German Romantic composer, 1810-1856)

“Art is a collaboration between God and the artist, and the less the artist does the better.”
- André Gide (Zid)

“Apart from God every activity is merely a passing whiff of insignificance.”
- Alfred North Whitehead

“Your talent is God's gift to you. What you do with it is your gift back to God.”
- Leo Buscaglia

As you continue your journey over this next week, I want you to start thinking of how your personal act of creating art is distinctly spiritual to you. Ask yourself how your art brings you closer to your Creator. Think about creating affirmation statements that highlight this relationship between your art and your spiritual life.