Where ART thou?

25 year!

mom and I backstage

Today I wandered up to the shop: what used to be our laundry room/schoolhouse, it is now my mom’s art studio, lined with so many bookshelves, and my dad’s shop in the attached three car garage. It’s quite a funny set up, I will admit; it describes my family and upbringing well. An isolated building for inventions and such, it is not more than a couple hundred yards from our house, among juniper trees and livestock corrals on our property. In the shop we all have left our scattered ideas and often unfinished projects. I would like to change that trend and finish all that I start. The more projects I can bring to completion or ideas to realization the better.

I was looking for some construction paper and beads to make Christmas cards. I got the urge to make something in what seems like years since I’ve had time. It’s nice to not have a schedule or schoolwork to hold to. When it was our school room/craft room the place was bursting with paper, clay, books, and various craft supplies. Now the shop is littered with mom’s paintings and sketches, remains of leather craft projects she taught the 4-H kids, and Elizabeth’s Chinese cut out clippings. I used to spend hours up there in that shop, late into the night, whether it was drawing paper dolls, building my dollhouse(which is yet finished), ceramics, sewing stuffed dolls and clothes for them, or beading jewelry, I was constantly on some creative project. Now in my twenties, I wonder, what happened to me? I don’t find time to let my creative juices flow; it’s no wonder I feel discontent and disoriented! I need that outlet. Yes, it was partly filled by my devotion to countless hours of dance, but now that that’s not my life anymore, where am I going to fill that need? While I may be no conventional artist, I am an artist nonetheless, and this artist needs to be freed. I wondered how I found myself writing fiction while I am pursuing an English degree. It goes to show has to come out somewhere!

Well, I didn’t find any construction paper, but I did find other interests among the catastrophe inside that shop. I found a book from the 1960’s or 70’s titled “Art and Craft”. Original. The first and largest section is called “Teaching Art”. It struck home. While I am I the midst of sorting out how I can adequately use my gifts, I know that I want to support those who want to keep our art forms alive. I want to support them by bringing awareness, perhaps through journalism, or by being an inspired artist, writer or performer. While I do not feel called to be a teacher, I know there is a need to keep art alive in our education systems. It is an invaluable tool for teaching culture, history, understanding, among other things. That book impressed upon me the need to support teachers in all the art forms. I am looking forward to seeing what God will do with all the talented young artists I know today. What better way to reach this hurting and broken world when they crave beauty, entertainment and love?

I wish I could split my days between an art museum or dancing and performing. Oh, and spending time outside in the great outdoors too. These things are good in themselves, but I’m in conflict with my inner artist. I wonder why, if God has given me a love for performing arts, in particular ballet, would he not want me to continue using it? Sometimes I don’t want to believe Christians who try to console me by saying “it must be God’s will that you move on.” Perhaps, but I know those are people who are not artists and do not respect dance. I believe it is a lie that artists are all self-absorbed, heathen lunatics. I think one of the best ways to express our admiration and gratitude to the Lord is through different types of arts and dance and music. The arts are very important to Him. Christians should be among the first to keep art alive.

While dance is changing to adapt to modern audiences tastes: classical ballet to more contemporary exploration of themes, we need be careful we don’t lose that specific technical performing art that has made such an impact on the culture of America as well as dancers themselves. The quality does not have to be sacrificed for the content. For me, performing is one of the best feelings in the world, but it is not just for me; it is about portraying something or telling a story for the audience. Now what that something is I believe is what comes forth from each of us as artists and Christians, whether we do an oil painting, architecture sketch, take photographs, play violin or sing opera. It is the Holy Spirit within us that gives us freedom to use our creative talents because they were given to be used by Him in us. If he endowed some of us with such special creative tendencies and talents, we must be in the wrong to deny them. I would desire to see Christian artists flourish and stand up for the Lord. I have seen examples of this, but quality “Christian dance companies” are rare. I don’t think we necessarily have to be involved in a Christian organization to make an impact for the Lord in this hungry world.

Regardless of whether or not every artist is called to use that directly in ministry, we are fulfilling God’s command to love Him and to love others, for the purpose of furthering His kingdom. Just as each individual part of the body has to work for the body to work, all the artists need to be creating and doing their work in order for the whole body of believers to be functioning the best. Beside art’s expressive commodities for the artist and often to engage the viewer or audience as well, art has a transcendent quality for promoting peace and good will among men. Often ancient peace treaties were marked with the giving of gifts. As for performing arts, they can bring up a topic or appeal to universal emotions that words often cannot express. The topic of the performance does not necessarily have to be some religious matter, likewise with music or dance, but the common thread the performers have with humanity allow for open up dialogue with the audience, to get them to consider or search harder for something… I can’t help but wonder how an artist’s work could not ultimately reflect God’s free gift of love and forgiveness to us. Perhaps God’s love is seen or stirred up in us through a photograph of the hungry or homeless, the swell of the piano, or the fire of the flamenco dancer’s skirt.

Join me on this search for my purpose as an artist: sometimes struggle, confusion, and change of plans would discourage. I feel that I have so much beauty and love to offer through my talents, but I am in stuck and immobile because of my own limitations. I tell myself there are other things that need fixing first before I can indulge in my talents again. Yet I know the parable of the talents and how the master was pleased with the one who actively his talents and not with the one who went and hid the talents. Talents were coins the, of course, but I have always applied this parable to natural talents. I have been given a lot, but I run the risk of complacency if I don’t soon find how I can invest them in the future. I am tired of hiding them under what is “acceptable” or easier, like working and going to school. I have come to this acknowledgment several times: If I was made to dance, and I try to bargain with the Lord to do something else, I may be successful, but I don’t think I will be happy.

Entering the dance world again is something I question because of past hurt and because frankly, it would take a miracle of hard work and dedication. I have asked the Lord if I am called to do something else now with my life, to take away that desire to dance, because the longing is so great. I don’t know why I insist on making myself suffer by not allowing me to do the thing I love. It is safer and easier to stand by. I doubt myself, as I always have. I don’t look at past accomplishments and say, “Rebecca, you are a good dancer.” There are so many uncertain in the dance world that make me wonder if I could ever live that life again. If I do dance professionally again, or choreograph, it will look different than I ever imagined. It will have to be all in, all involved, but not all consuming.

Through my struggles and roadblocks I have found the most important truth: My identity is in Christ. No, it is not in being a dance, or an artist, or a writer, or even a sister, mother, lover, friend. It is in Christ. All those other identities are included but are secondary. So I will be pleased and content with wherever the Lord places me. I believe He hears my heart’s cries, and will answer them in His perfect time. All I can do is pray and trust Him, and seek out opportunities and pursue them as they come.

When I return to Columbia I would love to pick up a job at an art gallery, if the Arts Institute will not have me as a full-time intern. Starbucks has been good for me for many reasons, but I think I need to surround myself with what I love and want to do. I want nothing more than to not be lonely and spend my time creating, and I would prefer that to be mainly dance. This was good. I know where I stand. I am going to England for half a year to gain what I can learn there from the friends I will make and people I will meet, and perspective from a different culture, but also for an idea of what the arts need and what I can offer.

Today I wandered up to the shop: what used to be our laundry room/schoolhouse, it is now my mom’s art studio, lined with so many bookshelves, and my dad’s shop in the attached three car garage. It’s quite a funny set up, I will admit; it describes my family and upbringing well. An isolated building for inventions and such, it is not more than a couple hundred yards from our house, among juniper trees and livestock corrals on our property. In the shop we all have left our scattered ideas and often unfinished projects. I would like to change that trend and finish all that I start. The more projects I can bring to completion or ideas to realization the better.

I was looking for some construction paper and beads to make Christmas cards. I got the urge to make something in what seems like years since I’ve had time. It’s nice to not have a schedule or schoolwork to hold to. When it was our school room/craft room the place was bursting with paper, clay, books, and various craft supplies. Now the shop is littered with mom’s paintings and sketches, remains of leather craft projects she taught the 4-H kids, and Elizabeth’s Chinese cut out clippings. I used to spend hours up there in that shop, late into the night, whether it was drawing paper dolls, building my dollhouse(which is yet finished), ceramics, sewing stuffed dolls and clothes for them, or beading jewelry, I was constantly on some creative project. Now in my twenties, I wonder, what happened to me? I don’t find time to let my creative juices flow; it’s no wonder I feel discontent and disoriented! I need that outlet. Yes, it was partly filled by my devotion to countless hours of dance, but now that that’s not my life anymore, where am I going to fill that need? While I may be no conventional artist, I am an artist nonetheless, and this artist needs to be freed. I wondered how I found myself writing fiction while I am pursuing an English degree. It goes to show has to come out somewhere!

Well, I didn’t find any construction paper, but I did find other interests among the catastrophe inside that shop. I found a book from the 1960’s or 70’s titled “Art and Craft”. Original. The first and largest section is called “Teaching Art”. It struck home. While I am I the midst of sorting out how I can adequately use my gifts, I know that I want to support those who want to keep our art forms alive. I want to support them by bringing awareness, perhaps through journalism, or by being an inspired artist, writer or performer. While I do not feel called to be a teacher, I know there is a need to keep art alive in our education systems. It is an invaluable tool for teaching culture, history, understanding, among other things. That book impressed upon me the need to support teachers in all the art forms. I am looking forward to seeing what God will do with all the talented young artists I know today. What better way to reach this hurting and broken world when they crave beauty, entertainment and love?

I wish I could split my days between an art museum or dancing and performing. Oh, and spending time outside in the great outdoors too. These things are good in themselves, but I’m in conflict with my inner artist. I wonder why, if God has given me a love for performing arts, in particular ballet, would he not want me to continue using it? Sometimes I don’t want to believe Christians who try to console me by saying “it must be God’s will that you move on.” Perhaps, but I know those are people who are not artists and do not respect dance. I believe it is a lie that artists are all self-absorbed, heathen lunatics. I think one of the best ways to express our admiration and gratitude to the Lord is through different types of arts and dance and music.

The arts are very important to Him. Christians should be among the first to keep art alive. While dance is changing to adapt to modern audiences tastes: classical ballet to more contemporary exploration of themes, we need be careful we don’t lose that specific technical performing art that has made such an impact on the culture of America as well as dancers themselves. Performing can be the best feeling in the word: willingly give yourself to the audience to portray something. Now what that something is I believe is what comes forth from each of us as artists and Christians, whether we do an oil painting, architecture sketch, take photographs, play violin or sing opera. It is the Holy Spirit within us that gives us freedom to use our creative talents because they were given to be used by Him in us. If he endowed some of us with such special creative tendencies and talents, we must be in the wrong to deny them. I would desire to see Christian artists flourish and stand up for the Lord. I have seen examples of this, but quality “Christian dance companies” are rare. I don’t think we necessarily have to be involved in a Christian organization to make an impact for the Lord in this hungry world.

Regardless of whether or not every artist is called to use that directly in ministry, we are fulfilling God’s command to love Him and to love others, for the purpose of furthering His kingdom. Just as each individual part of the body has to work for the body to work, all the artists need to be creating and doing their work in order for the whole body of believers to be functioning the best. Beside art’s expressive commodities for the artist and often to engage the viewer or audience as well, art has a transcendent quality for promoting peace and good will among men. Often ancient peace treaties were marked with the giving of gifts. As for performing arts, they can bring up a topic or appeal to universal emotions that words often cannot express. The topic of the performance does not necessarily have to be some religious matter, likewise with music or dance, but the common thread the performers have with humanity allow for open up dialogue with the audience, to get them to consider or search harder for something… I can’t help but wonder how an artist’s work could not ultimately reflect God’s free gift of love and forgiveness to us. Perhaps God’s love is seen or stirred up in us through a photograph of the hungry or homeless, the swell of the piano, or the fire of the flamenco dancer’s skirt.

Join me on this search for my purpose as an artist: sometimes struggle, confusion, and change of plans would discourage. I feel that I have so much beauty and love to offer through my talents, but I am in a state of complacency. I tell myself there are other things that need fixing first before I can indulge in my talents again. Yet I know the parable of the talents and how the master was pleased with the one who actively his talents and not with the one who went and hid the talents. Talents were coins the, of course, but I have always applied this parable to natural talents. I have been given a lot; how will I invest them in the future? I am tired of hiding them under what is “acceptable” or easier, like working and going to school. I have come to this acknowledgment several times: If I was made to dance, and I try to bargain with the Lord to do something else, I may be successful, but I don’t think I will be happy. Entering the dance world again is something I question because of past hurt and because frankly, it would take a miracle of hard work and dedication. I have asked the Lord if I am called to do something else now with my life, to take away that desire to dance, because the longing is so great. I don’t know why I insist on making myself suffer by not allowing me to do the thing I love. It is safer and easier to stand by. I doubt myself, as I always have. I don’t look at past accomplishments and say, “Rebecca, you are a good dancer.” There are so many uncertain in the dance world that make me wonder if I could ever live that life again. If I do dance professionally again, or choreograph, it will look different than I ever imagined. It will have to be all in, all involved, but not all consuming.

Through my struggles and roadblocks I have found the most important truth: My identity is in Christ. No, it is not in being a dance, or an artist, or a writer, or even a sister, mother, lover, friend. It is in Christ. All those other identities are included but are secondary. So I will be pleased and content with wherever the Lord places me. I believe He hears my heart’s cries, and will answer them in His perfect time. All I can do is pray and trust Him, and seek out opportunities and pursue them as they come.

When I return to Columbia I would love to pick up a job at an art gallery, if the Arts Institute will not have me as a full-time intern. Starbucks has been good for me for many reasons, but I think I need to surround myself with what I love and want to do. I want nothing more than to not be lonely and spend my time creating, and I would prefer that to be mainly dance. This was good. I know where I stand. I am going to England for half a year to gain what I can learn there from the friends I will make and people I will meet, and perspective from a different culture, but also for an idea of what the arts need and what I can offer.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s