The Art of Sharing

I’ve been reading Amanda Palmer’s book “The Art of Asking” I’ve been a fan of hers for years. Her music is hit or miss for me, but her philosophies about music industry ever since her Kickstarter seemed right on. She, in my opinion, was asking the right questions about what is art and who “owns” it. Then her Ted Talk came out, and I fell in love. If you haven’t seen it, take a few minutes:

So I’m actually listening to the book on Audible because she reads it and mixes her tracks in between chapters and it’s super fun. So I don’t have an exact quote or even know what page it’s around, but somewhere she said something about art isn’t truly art until it’s shared. 

This was weeks ago when I heard this and admittedly, I can’t shake it. I am an artist, a creative body, I also believe every human is. We were created and we create, this is part of what it means to be “created in God’s image” we can also be creators.

“Then God said, ‘Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.’
So God created humankind in God’s image,
   in the image of God they created them;
   male and female God created them.
God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.’” – Genesis 1:26-28

First, yes God totally refers to God’s self as a plural. Second, I take this “likeness” to not mean a physical one, but a spiritual/creative likeness. This verse also talks about how dominion of the earth and its creatures shall be given to humanity. God is entrusting humanity with the ability to care, create, and flourish, we are to create life, fill the earth and we are to “rule” as God would, for we are made in their image.

Given this, I would argue that we are creatures, creative beings, all “artists” in our own way, and that is a part of us that is in the image of God. Maybe not “art” the way it is defined by a museum or school, but I would argue as defined even by Webster:

Art: the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, … producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.

Yes, the definition talks about paintings and sculpture, music and dance. But writers and actors are also artists, designers, architects, linguists, the way we speak to one another is an art form, the ability to argue and convince, so are mathematic calculations. Now wait a minute, you say, that may be crossing the line… maybe but math and science have an artistic element to them – chemistry, physics, biology, astronomy, “producing works appreciated for their primarily for their beauty or emotional power”.

Think about it. It’s a scientist who has the ability to take plants of the earth, through mathematic calculations, manipulate them in a way that produces penicillin which heals millions of infections a year, or chemotherapy. And it is through the masterpiece of a photograph that shows a clear PET scan, cancer free. Tell me the paleontologists who biopsies the cell and can definitively tell the patient “benign” doesn’t produce “a work appreciated primarily for it’s emotional power”?

Is art not anything that has the ability to evoke emotion or beauty? Maybe not, or as I was struck by in The Art of Asking, maybe not until it’s shared.

One of the things I appreciate most about Amanda Palmer is she has navigated what it’s like to create community wherever she goes. She appreciates and recognizes the human need to be in relationship. In a lot of ways her book is a long, filled-in version of her Ted Talk, but this is okay, it’s worth reading anyway. (an aside- I showed this to my session as we talked about Stewardship a few years ago, I think we could learn from it in that way)

I am astonished at her imaginative ways of creating planned events and impromptu ones. Her ability to use technology to connect with others. For those who believe social media creates superficial relationships than you are missing an ability to connect to people on a level like never before.

People want to be seen, people want to be heard, and yes, people want to be asked. They want to see what is true and authentic, and real. Trust needs to be built, you must be sincere. Don’t ask if you don’t need it and don’t offer if you can’t.

If I write a book, is it art if I never share it? Never speak my words? If I make a painting isn’t it just a painting that I painted if I never show it to someone? It doesn’t become art until It is given to the world to be viewed, it isn’t art until it has the opportunity to be appreciated. Not all paintings should be shown, not all writing should be read. I write and they are works of art when I share them with people on this blog or preach the words in a sermon. If not, it is just writing or journaling, for they cannot be appreciated.

There is also an art of listening. The list goes on and may never stop.

This is an idea I’m playing with, an unfinished thought, but as an artist I also believe art is never really “finished” so I’m just going to leave this here for you to think about, critique positively or negatively. Whatever you want…


Moving into Darkness

So saying “I’m not giving up something for Lent, I’m taking something on” kind of drives me crazy.  But saying “Jesus gave his life for me so I will give up chocolate” equally drives me crazy.  So during the season on Lent what are we to do?

For years my husband and I have been in the practice of giving things up for Lent.  One year we went vegetarian, another year we gave up a car (went down to 1). 

Who ever said that giving something up was not taking something on also? When we gave up a car we were forced to communicate in a new way.  We could no longer be passive about each others daily lives, we not had a vested interest.  Where are you going today, how long will you need it.  At the time we lived next door to the church I was working at so I had to check with him before I planned meetings away from church, or I had to organize a ride for myself.  It was a great discipline.

This year I have given up fashion.  Well, in a sense.  For the season of Lent I will be wearing all black, no makeup and no jewelry except for a simple wedding band.  The idea for me is that I express myself through my clothing and my jewelry, what if I no longer had that artistic expression?  What if I had to express my creativity in other ways? What ways would those be?

It is a challenge in expression.  I am excited to see what happens.

However, four days in I feel myself moving into the darkness of the clothing I wear.  But a good Lenten practice is a journey, and as much as i am fighting the black, I am curious to see where it leads me.

God of Light, you walked a dark path which we mark by this season, be present with me- So that when you rise, I may rise to new life with you.