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Lynne P Hollingsworth
In a time when one would be challenged to define in any cogent words, what art IS, what defines it, what categorizes something as 'ART'... I stand here to share my own artistic efforts, my own creations, my own art....But more specifically for this occasion and this gathering, I find myself wanting to talk about the Christian and his or her art, her creation, her outpouring of ..what? and from ...wartists we are so ready to pour ourselves out on canvas, or paper, or on stage, painting a target on our chests, presenting our innermost stirrings to be criticized or appreciated, denigrated or praised. I only know as an artist, I must do so. It could be said that we paint this imaginary target on ourselves when we walk in the world, when we leave our solitary spaces... but artists seem to really step OUT there...put it all OUT THERE... why?
Well, I did not chose art. Art chose me. I learned quickly however that when there is not peace in my spirit, I cannot create; when there is no calm in my heart, I cannot paint; when I am drained by the weariness of worldly things, I run dry. Yet I cannot be passive and stagnant for long, for the need to create is strong, imperative, incessant, challenging and necessary for my being.
We say a piece or a dance performance, or a song, is 'inspired'....it gladdens our heart, or brings us to tears... it touches us deeply for reasons we cannot fathom. In fact this essence of the unknowable withers under scrutiny, to my mind. Inspiration is not a mere myth. There exists a real inspiration, coming not from the Muses, but from the living God, which one is free to follow or not.
The so called ZONE of inspiration is an experiential thing. For me it is the time when I have submitted completely to God and His grace and mercy and love.... then there is an outpouring of this inspiration to the work. I cannot explain it, define it, or draw a picture of it: it just happens, but only if I am in the place to receive it. I believe deeply that my painting "Man of Sorrows" was given to me to execute to show me just how God can and does take me on the journey, as a passenger, following, and not as the captain. That position is taken, in my work, my words, and my life.
The entire soul of the artist reaches and rules his or her work. As a Christian, it is not for me to try to separate my art from my faith. I live and breathe and walk and speak and write and draw and paint my faith, by the Grace of God, with His mercy THROUGH faith. When I question what is happening, or bring too much worldly thought and criticism to it, I in fact, diminish the power that has been provided me. And self criticism is commonplace with artists, creators.... it can be argued that to view your own work with as much emotional distance as is possible can be a good thing, in that you strive to improve it, with technique, with mediums, with emphasis, hues and composition: however, that very emotional distance can turn a gifted piece, an inspired work, which perhaps even the artist doesn't herself understand, to an uninspired work.
It is absurd to try to dissociate in yourself, the artist and the Christian. They are one, if you are truly Christian...otherwise, your art may be isolated from your soul by some system of aesthetics. This is the trap.
If you want to make a Christian work, then be Christian, and simply try to make a beautiful work, into which your heart will pass; do not try to "make Christian."
I know an artist who paints wonderful landscapes and his name is Michael Godfrey. His artist statement is simple and profound --His desire is "that his paintings reflect the wonder of God's creation." I admire him greatly and hold him and his mission in high esteem.
An artist who is wholly a Christian creates Christian art. It may manifest in portraits that somehow portray more of the subject's inner existence, the soul and spirit of the subject; or a deeper illustration of how the artist SEES that spirit, shares its strength or vulnerability. A landscape may indeed have a more incandescent depth, something that bypasses the eyes and strikes the spirit within.
I have always said that my husband Darryl's singing, bypasses the ear in some way and passes directly into the heart. It is that aspect which I have experienced in his singing that defies scrutiny, correction, criticism or technological analysis: it simply IS. It exists, it moves, it touches, it inspires, it comforts, it is of God.
It overflows from a heart suffused by grace.
If someone finds something I have created "beautiful", I have to stress that any beauty which is perceived emanates from my heart, a heart filled with God's love and my awe and wonder; the wonder of the beauty around me, the masterful glory of the clouds in the sky.... therefore it flows, not from me, but from God. if something bypasses the eye and strikes the heart, then I have succeeded. So I continue. I am on a journey, as we all are, growing and learning.
I create because I must. I know I must strive not to please people, but to glorify God. Perhaps this is one of the most difficult aspects of the artistic journey: to learn to trust God completely in the face of worldly criticism and advice, well meant though it may be. Indeed, this is perhaps the challenge of the Christian on his or her journey PERIOD.
I must run my own race, surrounded and encouraged by those who have journeyed before me. I am Christian, and my art is, therefore Christian.