When I was younger, I had the privilege of being surrounded by creativity. Both of my parents were formed by trades; my father a carpenter, and my mother an artist. My three sisters and I were constantly encouraged to make something. Similarly, my mom showed me one of the most mind blowing discoveries that saved me throughout my time as a student, the other side of the paper! Oftentimes in class, I would hastily finish assignments and move from being a collaborative part of the classroom environment to a menace. Until, my mother invited me to join the world of the other side of the page. If you flip over a one-sided copy assignment, you are greeted with a blank canvas. I was encouraged very early on in my singing, participated in all city choirs, and that led to over a decade of participating in choral singing. Even before that, the excessive banging on pots and pans in the kitchen was my percussive obsession. My parents even invited us to own our rooms by painting the walls however we would like. On the job site, Dad gave me a tool belt, scrap wood and nails and invited me to look cleverly at my surroundings and create accordingly. Needless to say, I was raised in an environment conducive to creativity, art and beauty.
As I moved on to high school, I recognized that this upbringing brought an entirely different perspective of life. I was encouraged to pursue singing, I was encouraged to make art, and so, it became my passion. It all culminated my sophomore year when I was asked to play Enjolras in Les Miserables for our school’s musical. From there, I was engulfed in a life of artistry, and was encouraged to bring beauty to the world.
Fast forward to today, as a Worship and Arts pastor, and I am realizing time and time again, that not everyone had the same upbringing I did. Not everyone was encouraged in their creativity. Being exposed to art is not everyone’s favorite activity. Where I long to discover new beauty, oftentimes others long to line their pockets. Creativity, artistry and beauty are what makes my heart see Jesus more clearly, and I would venture to guess that I am not alone. In an ever changing world, beauty is an eternal trait that continually leads us back to a loving Father. Beauty is something experienced time and time again, and its origin is in creation.
As a musician, I am inspired by the mastery and proficiency of others in their craft. People are amazingly skilled in a limitless array of talents. Mankind, by its very nature, is collaborative artistry. In creation, we see the collaborative mastery of God expressed in and through mankind. For instance, in the act of love making, two become one in a collaboration that can result in making a child. And then the mother acts as the majority life source, giving of its nutrients to grow a baby. The creating and raising of children is art. Civilization’s future is built on the shoulders of the artistic expression of reproduction.
If humanity can be viewed as an art form, than at the absolute core of our being is a desire to beautify and create. This desire stirs the self in a way unlike other longings. By engaging in what other individuals are investing in, we are collaborating. This exchange of appreciation is collaborative beauty.
In defining or gauging something’s influence on culture, we have pillars of society that become our measuring stick. From the United States Constitution we see life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as America’s major fight. Various religions have their own understanding. Beauty is an eternal expression that infiltrates all levels of society. In short, for us to engage in the heightening of the human experience, we must collaborate in the ways mankind has been designed to engage. Man must create.
Our cities deserve cultural investment. By engaging locally, we don’t strictly have a hipster’s approach to life, but humanity’s responsibility to collaborate at its simplest interaction. Artists are continually putting themselves on the chopping block, giving their expression of the human experience, both as a response and as a gift. If we neglect our entirely God-given trait to collaborate to further the reaches of beauty, than we have missed one of man’s greatest earthly responsibilities.
Is shopping local enough? Sure, that is a beautiful collaboration. However, when was the last time you went out with the idea of engaging in culture? With the increase of technological ease, man’s understanding of creativity, beauty and art has shifted away from an open minded expression across all mediums to neglecting “primitive” technique to devour the endorphins and addiction to the fast paced digital world. Human interaction is the easiest way one can be an artist, by collaborating and creating thoughts, sentiments, humor or story telling. The elevation of art and beauty is mankind’s ultimate act of respect (and obedience) for our Master Creator.
So, I prescribe a genuine effort to further the reaches of art. Go buy a painting that inspires you! Go see a musician that allows the sciences of sound to bring value to every heart in the proximity! Go watch the human form in motion and dance. Whatever you do, don’t just settle for the incredible stuff shared on Facebook. Actually engage in culture. Support local art.