“Most people have been brainwashed into believing it’s their job to copy-edit the world, not design it.” – Seth Godin, The Icarus Deception
Art is part of a thriving family life, and creativity is one of the building blocks of a healthy and adaptable home environment. It is essential that we incorporate the value of art into our everyday lives as we raise our children; the cultivated, creative spirit prepares them to flex adeptly to any number of relational, material, and spiritual challenges that will emerge in the future. Inevitably, challenges will not take by surprise those who are comfortable with change, risk and outside-of-the-box thinking.
The creative life helps our children give expression to their individual voices. An artful life encourages everyone to participate; it cultivates sensitivity, awareness and attentiveness; it fosters courage; it establishes a life that is flexible and open; and is all about matching unlikely pairs (siblings, parent and child, neighbours) in initiatives that often reap uncommon and unexpected results. Art consistently revels in collaboration and cooperation, two ideals that are often in short supply.
As we raise our children to become life artists, we model for them the wonder of a God who is intimately invested in the dynamic expression of beauty and potential on the earth. God, Himself, is the original artist.
We mustn’t let our familiarity with the first chapter of Genesis rob us of the absolute magnitude and wonder of the truth that He created the heavens and the earth. God invented everything that nature documentaries brag about; the hummingbird, water-buffalo, tree frog and barn cat were all intentionally, thoughtfully, delightedly created by a God whose very nature is artistic and visionary. His Glory revels in expressions of beauty and hope-filled expansion.
God loves complexity, order, design and creativity. On both the micro and macro levels of creation God established patterns that would be mirrored throughout the heavens and the earth (for example, Fibonacci Numbers, Buckminster Fullerene, etc.), because His glory knows no bounds. Creation highlights His majestic glory and extends an invitation for us to enter in to a story and reality that is more magnificent than we can imagine.
God is a creator and we are His children, bearing His image and DNA; being creative is part of who we are. Our expansive, unlimited God loves to participate with us in the creation of new amazing art every day.
Feed the Birds
Recently, my twelve-year-old drew me aside to examine his work at filling the bird feeders that hang on the pergola in our backyard. “Notice anything, Mom?” He inquired.
He had layered different types and colours of bird seed – like rainbow rock strata – as he had poured it into the bird feeder.
He brought art to the feeding of sparrows. Will the birds notice? Not likely, but God does. Because of who God is, He even delights in seeing the tiny chickadees attended to in royal form.
Art is Everywhere
Creativity does not equal arts and crafts, or exclusively the fine arts. Art is not simply wild streaks of glue colliding with glitter, fluorescent feathers, and paper plates at the hand of an enthusiastic four-year-old, nor is it merely the professional application of oils painted on canvas in a studio. More comprehensively, art is life in its fullest expression, in every direction.
Though I would be amiss to claim a comprehensive definition of art, I believe it is possible to chip away at its essence in order to see how essential a component of life it is for all of us, especially those of us who desire to be and grow world-shapers. Here, I will speak of art and creativity interchangeably. The two are hand-in-glove and so I cannot distinguish much between them; as I define art, I describe creativity as well.
The essence of creativity is an openness, a perception of life that sees potential where others see limits. Artists make connections between often unrelated things, combine two or more different ideas, and then put the new concept to use.
Creativity is not necessarily about conjuring up original ideas; as Solomon so sagely reminds us,
“There is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9, NIV).
However, it is about combining and applying old ideas in ways that have never been done before.
Marriage is the perfect example of the joining of two disparate ‘things’ to make a new collaborative manifestation by forging an unique expression never yet seen on the earth! The analogy expands, as we consider the offspring of the marriage union, a very visible picture of the virtually limitless combinations of potential inherent in the combination of two humans’ DNA. There is no new DNA forming, it is the combinations that are novel with each new child.
I believe that creativity is part of our spiritual DNA. Because we are made in the image of God, we carry similar potential for beautiful expressions of life, and inventive solutions to respond to the needs around us. A redeemed soul has access to the mind of Christ – the creative force of the universe! Ponder this a moment, and recognize the remarkable immanent inheritance we have as children of God.
Internalize this: everyone is artist… You are an artist. Art is not just for experts or for little children; it’s for all of us in the middle. Believing that art belongs at one end of the expertise spectrum or another is swallowing a lie; art is a part of our living inheritance now!