Keeping Art Alive

      There is a deep sense of pride when one is doing something that explores or carries on a family tradition. If a child’s father is a doctor, the child will feel a sense of pride if he/she too, chooses that path for him/herself. If one’s mother is a teacher, one will carry that tradition on proudly when he/she passes the boards and is certified to teach as well. Familial ties are tightly wound with emotions; not just in professions, but in everyday tasks.

      I sit on the floor and paint with all the shades of red, until I feel what is missing. Paintbrush in hand, I am my great grandmother, a lady I never had the privilege of meeting, an artist who painted fine china with even finer brushes. I pick up a pen and slowly, neatly, write words that deserve to be felt as they are formed; every curve, line, stroke intentional. Pen in hand, ink smudges along my arm, I am my father, embellishing every birthday card with calligraphy and pressed flowers. I clumsily stitch up the loose seam on the collar of my shirt, and I am my grandmother, a well-versed seamstress, sewing beautiful, intricate clothes for my whole family. As I explore the different ways to create, I feel more deeply connected to the members of my family who created before me.

      I don’t consider art a talent of mine, but I do consider art one of the most accessible, hands-on ways through which I worship, as well as connect with those I love. I explore my relationship with Christ in an intimate way when I am creating, for He is, always has been, and always will be the greatest creator. Not only did God speak everything into being, but during His time on earth, Jesus, too, was a creator through carpentry. How beautiful an opportunity, to be able to engage in creating as our heavenly father, too, created. How extraordinary to think that we, God’s creations, are able to create as an act of worship to point back to Him.

      After being actively involved with art all through grade school, I didn’t know whether it was something I’d carry with me through college. I knew it was something that I loved, and I couldn’t imagine not bringing my supplies with me when I moved out. However, space was limited, and after a few weeks passed and my boxes full of paint, brushes, canvases, and pens went untouched, I decided I’d take them home. But every so often everybody, no matter who we are surrounded by, feels alone, and that hit just in time for me to realize that art, my comrade, had to stay. Art was a way for me to choose to sit down with God for a few hours and immerse myself in imitating Him, loving Him, and finding solace in His presence. It is written in Psalm 61:2 KJV, “…when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” This is my prayer as I create. For it is when I am exploring my faith through artistry that I feel that sense of pride any child feels when he or she follows in his or her father’s footsteps. Life becomes overwhelming, and I feel alone, misunderstood, or even simply confused. But when I create — when I pull out my paints from under my bed and  invite inspiration to wash over me — I am looking at my life as God’s creation, and imitating His strokes. He leads me to higher ground, and there I am restored.

      After six days of creating, God admired His artwork, and said that it was good. This last step has proven helpful when using art as worship. It is all too easy to look at a completed piece and, with a swift shake of your head, declare it a mistake, declare yourself a failure, and discard the creation without a second glance. Even though God’s creation was perfect, He gave it a second glance, and He took the time to say that it was good. It reflected Himself in its perfection. Likewise, when worshipping through art, we need to look at the finished product, and see the goodness in it; see the goodness in ourselves, God’s creation.

Matt Wolek/Waltonian      It doesn’t take much to grow discouraged when putting yourself into a work of art, especially when it doesn’t turn out the way you had hoped. But God saw His work and said that it was good. He saw man and woman and said that they were very good. So when I feel discouraged, I look to my father’s creations to see the goodness around me. I look at what precision went into creating each member of my family, creating every color on my palette, every thought in my mind. I follow His lineage of creativity, and when my canvas is complete — wet paint, imperfect lines, and smudges where my hand slipped — I say that it is good, I say that He is good, and I remember that I am His creation, therefore I create for Him.


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