catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 13, Num 5 :: 2014.03.07 — 2014.03.20


A masterpiece

I was recently leading a middle school group of youth at our church in a lesson about the transfiguration and using a sketch-based game as an introduction. Several students cheered at the thought of getting to open the morning with drawing. Others gave exasperated sighs and began choruses of “but I’m not good at art” or “I’m not that creative.” To their surprise, the less enthusiastic ones were the youth who more fully captured the idea of the activity.

The immediate split between those in the room who were “creative” and those who were not was a bit shocking. In an age when artistry is so widely defined, when the bridges between areas that once seemed so distant, like science and music, are more supported than ever, we still get the message at a young age that we are either “good” or “bad” at art — that if you can’t create a masterpiece, you might as well not even try.

And there are a few things we should be particularly concerned about when people are either labeled as inartistic. First off, these early, ingrained categorizations mean that we need to look at all of the kinds of art we are pointing out or exposing to our children and youth — at home, school, church, everywhere. We need to see how they are learning to find art in the every day, ordinary stuff that they can touch, taste, see and feel.

It would also be an incredible thing if we better understood and acknowledged the vulnerability the artistic process requires. Think about how this might change our conversations around art projects stuffed in the bottom of backpacks and hung on refrigerators — pieces chosen for display in a school gallery and pieces rejected from these galleries, projects that take more of the student’s time and energy than the class may allow.

And how would this understanding change the way we allow for art at home? Maybe there would be more spontaneous dance dusting parties, more colorful dinner tables, fuller and probably messier dress up bins, more room in the garage or back yard for experiments in curiosity, piles of journals, mad-libbed grocery lists…

Lastly, we need to be more intentional about living into the truth that creativity is not an end product, but a process. Whether we are being creative in actual, physical art, our relationships, our finances or with our time, creativity is a lifelong journey of learning. The only end product that will really matter is a life full of sometimes messy, always beautiful experiences that connect us to the world. A life like this is the greatest masterpiece we can create.

your comments

comments powered by Disqus