Soapbox: Is Art an Idol?

 

Life is full of art, don't miss it.
Image from Pixabay. Edits by me.

The other day I saw a quote on Pinterest that got tangled up in my brain. No amount of wishing, or thinking, or pondering sponged it away. I batted at it. Hissed at it. Ignored it. It only crossed its arms, stuck out its tongue, rolled its eyes, and remained. So, dear readers, I’m going to write about it. I’m going to write about it because it irritated me so much. I found it so offensive, I couldn’t let it go.

The bad part? I didn’t save it. I can’t find it. I’ve looked and searched all over Pinterest and the internet for it. No such luck. (I must be out of faerie dust.) I can’t give you the exact quote. You’ll have to trust my memory and live with the gist of the quote instead of the exact words.

Here’s the quote that sent me into a tailspin:

You’re an artist. Your art is more important than spotless dishes or a meal for a neighbor. Make your art.

(The wording was a little more “artistic” than that, but that’s basically what it said.)

What?

You’re art is more important than spotless dishes or a meal for your neighbor? Since when did art become the god of our society? Of our hearts? We’ve made art our idol. In our culture if it’s art, if it’s your art, no one can say otherwise. No parent, teacher, spouse, child, or any one can tell you anything negative about the amount of time and effort you put into your art. If they dare, they’re squashing your spirit. “Nobody needs that kind of negativity in their lives.”

That’s the artist culture. That’s that kind of things artist tell other artists.

How selfish can we be? How self-absorbed?

Instead of making sure my family has clean dishes, I should let them get sick because my writing is more important than their health. If my neighbors or friends are struggling, I’m off the hook on helping them cause I wanted to write this morning? The fake people in my head are more important than the real people around me?

This is the kind of thing people pin when they’re feeling guilty about how they’re treating fellow human beings. Art isn’t more important than people. Art isn’t the height of human experience. It is a gift, a part of human experience. It is one of the many facets that make us human.

Everything in life is art.

Many women think they aren’t artistic, but their homes are beautifully decorated and very welcoming. They love to host teas and shower people with food and drink. I know women who don’t think they’re artistic who make beautiful quilts, or sew their own clothes, or grow beautiful gardens. I know women who cook healthy and delicious meals. All of that is art. Every element of life is art. Have you ever worked on a project where you didn’t have the choice of creating beauty?

You make choices. Choices are the root of creativity.

Painting, drawing, writing, and music aren’t the only art forms. They don’t sit up on a higher pedestal than someone who can raise chickens. They communicate emotionally to the soul, yes, but so does a tree. So does a well landscaped front yard. So do clean dishes.

Once we start regulating art to only painting, drawing, writing, and music, once we see it as only something a few of us can do, and once we see it as more important than all of life, we’ve made it a god. And any god other than God is a tyrant.

Try it. Try putting art above all and watch your marriage crumble. Watch your children grow up alone and filled with bitterness. You may create beautiful things, the world may sing your praises, but they will go home to their safe, warm beds where someone took the time to do the laundry (another art form) and they will sleep peacefully together.

Don’t make a gift from God an idol. Don’t let it run your life to the detriment of everything else, and don’t sell yourself short. Open your eyes to the art that is all around you! Don’t believe the lie that only a few special people are artistic. (Granted, there are a few special people who are Michelangelo, but only a few. And artist like him do give up almost all for their art. Make sure this is what you want to do.) If you’re making a choice, you have the chance to be creative. Creativity is often useful, found in the home, and welcoming to those around us. Creativity isn’t afraid to sacrifice for others. If you have an artistic gift, use it. Use it in all of life, but don’t believe the lie that all of life should bow down before your art form of choice.

“I’m an artist!” they exclaim loudly.

Art, artistic-ness, creativity, on a certain level is ordinary. You aren’t a special unicorn who magically has art that some suburban mom raising three kids while managing her home doesn’t have. You paint, or write, or make music, or YouTube videos, while she washes clothes, getting spots out that are unidentified. She makes meals that both taste good and are nourishing. She cleans a house quickly and efficiently. She spends her free time teaching her daughter to sew. Or maybe she just enjoys taking pictures of her girls. She manages budgets, meals, laundry, and education. She oversees the decorating and improving of all that is around her. Every element of her life is art, for she is making choices every moment of every day for beauty instead of squalor.

Artists hate to think of themselves as ordinary.

This world hates to think of anything, especially ourselves as ordinary, but we must find balance between the ordinary and the unicorns, or we miss out on the magic of this life.

Because art speaks so strongly to the soul, we want to believe it is special. But, if we’re not careful all we do is take away the beauty of the every day. We take away enjoying a sunrise on our back porch with a cup of coffee. We take away the joy of the art of making a good cup of coffee because that’s something most of us do every day. We lose the art of the home when we say the home isn’t a well spring of creativity. If art is only regulated to one or two extra-gifted people, then the rest of life becomes a gray monotony of boredom.

If art is in every choice, if every choice is seen as a chance to grasp at beauty, to be creative, then the world around us, the mundane, becomes magical. We begin to share different artistic gifts. You make quilts. I write stories. She bakes cakes. He grows roses. We can share, bathe, in the beauty of different gifts. The mundane again, becomes magical.

Don’t sell yourself short. Don’t make art more than it is, and don’t miss out on the art around you. It’s not an idol. It’s a gift. Use it. Enjoy it. Seek it out in its brown garb and its golden gown. See both! Open your eyes to the joy of spotless dishes and a meal created in love and shared with others. There is your art, my dear friends. There is the art of the everyday. There is the artist in us all.

Quote taken from The Hidden Art of Homemaking by Edith Schaeffer.
Quote taken from The Hidden Art of Homemaking by Edith Schaeffer.

 

 

 

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2 thoughts on “Soapbox: Is Art an Idol?

  1. I love this SO much! Very well written, both encouraging and convicting. It’s so easy to let the “ordinary” things in life suffer for the sake of “art.” Finding beauty in the ordinary not only brings more balance to our lives, but, in my opinion, speaks deeply to the soul just as much as, if not more than, “high” art. It’s easy to forget though. Thanks for the reminder and communicating to my soul with your blog post. 😉 ❤

    Liked by 1 person

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