Because We All Create
“That talk about art is all well and good for those artistic types, but it’s not for me.” Have you ever said something like this? If you’ve harbored secret dreams of doing something you suspect might be artistic, but are afraid or embarrassed to follow through with it, then this is for you. If you enjoy producing something that you consider art–well, read on.
What is art? This is a question many ask, but few answer. The term “art” may conjure vague images. Esoteric people discussing things that you suspect they only half understand themselves. Perhaps it means a painter brushing images on canvas. Perhaps it means any of a hundred different things to you.
I believe art is not limited to certain disciplines, such as painting or music. Real art, true art is anything that creates culture, changes people, and points to deep truths about reality. True art is an ordering of reality to reflect what is
These three characteristics are always linked to each other.
Would you call all of this art? If not, which ones qualify? Why?
Scroll through the seven images below.
While you may define some of the things above as art, others may not. Here are a few quotes from different people attempting to describe what art is. If you don’t know who these people are, look them up. Most of them probably thought a long time before coming up with these statements.
“Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art.” -Andy Warhol 1
“Defining art is huge; I feel like it’s such a subjective thing. It’s more like what’s not art. You know what I mean? I think there can be an art in the way people live their lives, and art can be a gift someone gives to somebody.” -Kathleen Hanna 1
“Art is never finished, only abandoned.”-Leonardo da Vinci 1
“Were I called on to define, very briefly, the term Art, I should call it ‘the reproduction of what the Senses perceive in Nature through the veil of the soul.’ The mere imitation, however accurate, of what is in Nature, entitles no man to the sacred name of ‘Artist.’ -Edgar Allen Poe 2
Art begins when a man, with the purpose of communicating to other people a feeling he once experienced, calls it up again within himself and expresses it by certain external signs.” -Leo Tolstoy 3
“Art is the body’s pronunciation of the soul.”
“All human creativity depends on something deeper than itself.” -Michael Gungor 4
“Art, as far as it is able, follows nature, as a pupil imitates his master; thus your art must be, as it were, God’s grandchild.” Dante Alighieri 1
So you see these people, most of whom I suppose are more intelligent than I, giving definitions that don’t necessarily line up with one another. In some cases they seem to struggle to put it into words. Sort of a “I can’t quite find the right words, but I’ll try” moment. So what defines good art?
There’s an exhibit in Crystal Bridges, an art museum near me, that has this piece of “art.” I have personally eaten of the green candy that is “endlessly replenished.” It hardly felt like a $7.6 million experience to me, although I’m not exactly sure how those feel.
In 2017, the top three artists are Drake, Rihanna, and Justin Bieber (according to my very scientific survey, which involved googling “top artists 2017”). Are these really the people we want to take our cues from on how to produce great art?
We need to think seriously about art and determine how we will decide what is good art (I’m not sure if there is anything like bad art, according to my definition below). The human heart cannot be trusted to lead us right.
Rather than just going by what feels good in art, we must have an underlying principle that informs our art-making and art-enjoying.
Our art should reflect what is real about the world.
According to my understanding of biblical principles genuine art:
– Is true
– Is beautiful
– Is expressive
– Enriches others
– Goes beyond what is necessary
– Tells of a Creator (who created us)
Here is a simple truth with profound implications: Humans must create. Do you know of anyone who has not created something? We are born to be creators of good. The question then, is not “will I create” but rather “What will I create?” When we create good art, we are making a little foretaste of the heavenly on earth.
Art is creating. Not all creating can rightly be called art, but all art is creating. I would define any action or activity that meet the above criteria as art. Work or play, individual or community, big or small, as long as it shows these principles it is art.
At Creation, God said “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness…” (Gen. 1.26a, ESV). And a little later, “And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good” (Gen. 1.31a, ESV).
God could have chosen to create something far simpler than us and our surroundings, yet he chose this unbelievable complexity, this stunning beauty just because he could. God created not because he had to, but because he wanted to. He created us to carry his image, which includes the compulsion to create good things. Now obviously, we cannot create ex nihilo, because we are not God. We simply take the materials and talents God has given us and use them to reflect glory back to him.
The verses below talk about making disciples, but I think they can apply to all our actions.
“For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done” (1 Cor. 3:11-13, ESV).
|Daniel Yutzy lives in Huntsville, Arkansas with his wife. For fun, he teaches music at a local church school, conducts choirs or ensembles, and dabbles in finger-style guitar and choral composition. He is as passionate about learning as he is about teaching. He enjoys being with people who know what is important and act accordingly. Alternately, a well written biography, novel, or history will keep him occupied for hours. He loves soft rain and beautiful corners of this marvelous world. God has blessed him beyond necessity.
1. “Art Quotes at BrainyQuote.” BrainyQuote. Xplore, n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2017.
2. Poe, Edgar Allen. Proverbia. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Apr. 2017.
3. Tolstoy, Leo. What Is Art? Trans. Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky. London: Penguin, 1995. 38. Print.
4. Gungor, Michael. The Crowd, the Critic, and the Muse: A Book for Creators. Denver, CO: Woodsley, 2012. 1+. Print.